Normally this past week would have been one of those fantastic annual rites -- hockey's version of "pitchers and catchers report" and a sign of the approaching fall: New York Islanders players are "informally" skating together on Long Island.
Instead, they operate in a strange limbo like their NHLPA fellows across the continent, unsure if they're physically gearing up for a long, hard season, or for a long, silly lockout. Travis Hamonic is not one of the skaters because he prefers to drive -- and he doesn't want to make that drive without knowing there will be a season.
The "big four" reps from the NHL and NHLPA, the Fehrs and Bettman & Daley, also met "informally" Friday and are expected to meet again Sunday. Some are guardedly positive; some are fatalistic. No one much knows outside that room. Maybe even in that room, as both sides are playing versions of chicken -- perhaps fearing getting punked by the other more than they are concerned about the future of this league.
But here's what's going on there and elsewhere:
- More from Hamonic: Still training, still hopeful of a CBA deal.
- Kirill Kabanov is ready for Bridgeport duty. Has a house and everything.
- Mark Streit would play in Switzerland if there's a lockout?
- Joel "speed to L.I. to be emergency backup" Martin is a K-Wing (ECHL).
- Nino Niederreiter is 20 years old today.
- The Sound Tigers have signed Max MacKay, whom Michael Fornabaio cites as Jack Capuano's nephew.
- Mark Katic, heart throb.
- In the attention-starved department, a small team announces it invites Steve Staios to join the roster.
- Here is a fantastic feature on the Lokomotiv tragedy on the one-year anniversary. | Fornabaio notes Alex Klementyev appears to be with their second-division team. | Touching feature on how the McCrimmons are dealing with the loss of Brad McCrimmon, the former NHLer and late coach of the team.
- The BU self study revealing a "culture of sexual entitlement" has yielded some explicit details -- including one player's parent being a known Argentinian* -- and doesn't look good on coach Jack Parker. (*That's a bit of an inside joke, from squabbles of yesteryear. The rest of this topic is not funny at all, obviously.)
- Al Montoya's new mask is cool.
- Branislav Mezei nets a pair. Heh.
- Video: Here are career highlights of Janne Niinimaa. Or uran huippuhetket, if you will.
Lockout This and That: Old pal Zeke Konopka says they're trying. | Why roll backs and escrow are not, actually, the same. (It seems players have never understood how escrow works.) | Buccigross talks to ex-NHLPA head Paul Kelly.
- Any Islanders fan who survived the '90s knows about bad owners. But Harold Ballard was something else.
- Speaking of which ... the Devils owner has reached a deal with his lenders to let him hang on to the team.
- Pretty good human interest story on P.K. Subban, who teams would salivate after if Montreal were ever stupid enough to trade him.
- I know that ESPN team poll is not popular (we mentioned it in the Coliseum post), and here are more reasons why.
- Here are hockey pundits who are followed most on Twitter. Although no links, so ... go find them yourself, I guess.
Bobby Ryan didn't really mean he wants to be traded. Unless they're trying to trade him, in which case please get on with it.