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Video: In Which New York Islanders Coach Jack Capuano Defines 'Battle Level'

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If winning is the only thing, then battle level is the everything to the only thing. I think.

This is not a love song, this is not a love song, nor is it a satire from our Zeitgeist series.

With "battle level" a favorite in New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano's vocabulary -- and thus a common inspiration for quips from the gallows-humor leaning Isles fans who frequent this site -- it has become the inspiration for satire and t-shirts.

Now, in an instance of life imitating satire imitating life, the Islanders official site has gotten to the bottom of what Capuano and some of his players mean by "battle level."

Naturally, it is everything.

"Battle level is everything. You'll hear coaches talking about compete level all the time. You can play any system in the world you want. X's and O's are important, but at the end of the day it's about those 50/50 pucks and your battle level. Playing solid defense, that's where it starts. It's the name of the game."

Capuano continues the explanation in the video (embedded and linked above), as do his defensemen Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic.

To be clear here: We're not saying "battle level" isn't a thing. (Hey, after all, it's everything.) Most nights, hockey carries such a thin margin between winning and losing that bookies could take it or leave it. The difference between the NHL's best and worst possession teams straddles five percent on either side of 50/50, which is to say special teams, bounces, goaltending, the proverbial "execution" and, yes, battle level can be the difference.

In a sport of 45-second bursts of energy, pushing to win those "battles" -- and indeed, avoiding nights where you are visibly "going through the motions" -- are part of the process and, as Capuano rightly notes, is part of every coach's lexicon.

(And yes, right about now we are taken back to the old NHL Network coach parody commercials circa 2008.)


But just as when you have to describe the same thing over and over you start to lose any variety to your vocabulary, so too when you hear the same term over and over -- particularly amid losses -- it becomes both reality and muse for ridicule.

So anyway, now you know, fully and completely, what battle level is. (And by that we mean: An excuse to hawk t-shirts.)