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Islanders Training Camp: Making special teams special

We talkin' 'bout <em>practice</em>?!
We talkin' 'bout practice?!

Pardon me this bit of background: Six years ago, this '94 strike-deceased former baseball fan was coaxed back into following that sport by a well-written blog. A year later, that blog moved to a startup network called SB Nation. Upon seeing SBN's interactive tools combined with a writer I liked, I started to think, "What if they had this for the Islanders?"

But in U.S. media, hockey comes last, so I didn't pay that idea much mind until James Mirtle had his old site and occasionally linked to Pension Plan Puppets, which was ... "wait a minute--SBN has hockey now!" I realized. I didn't so much want to blog about hockey as I wanted an SBN site on the Isles, but I started to think: "If you want it, you might have to do it yourself." I did a trial year on a now-defunct blog network (which stupidly deleted its archives). That same year, then-Islanders PR head Chris Botta conceived of the Islanders BlogBox, one of just a couple of NHL teams willing to explore this new realm.

Writing about the Isles helped me process my thoughts on the team, and I loved the way it brought me closer to other fans -- like a virtual sports bar that's always showing Islanders games. I jumped to SBN but didn't think about the BlogBox because I'm about 1,000 miles and 7 NHL arenas (depending on your route) from the Coliseum locker room.

This season, however, thanks to friendly support and your readership, I'm happy to share I'm "in" the revamped BlogBox, which features several good writers in this evolving medium. That should open up more coverage opportunities for this site (when I'm not being lazy). But I wanted to let you know it doesn't change the approach here: This place is designed and maintained for people who love hockey, love the Islanders and want to discuss it -- good times and bad -- in a thoughtful way with a dose of humor. Hockey, like all sports (except golf, which appears to be a vehicle for self-loathing), is supposed to be fun. That's the goal here.

Thanks to everyone for your participation and help. A bunch of camp links and video after the jump.

(Sorry for all that "me" talk. Like traffic figures for this Web site, I promise to only do that about once a year. But I wanted y'all to know what I'm about here, lest we ever take ourselves too seriously.)

A Couple of the Better Videos

Travis Hamonic on his approach, being a pro, how to make the team:


Nino Niederreiter (I confess, I dig hearing a German accent talk hockey) says he's getting more comfortable with the Gordon system::


Parting thought: "They can't do that to our pledges. Only WE can do that to our pledges."