We spoke to friend of the site and current NHL Network pundit/former New York Islander goaltender Kevin Weekes about a cocktail of topics surrounding your New York Islanders. Kevin offered his thoughts on the Islanders’ current goaltending situation, his time as an Islander, his take on the John Tavares situation and his feelings on his longtime friend Josh Ho-Sang.
Let’s start with the goaltending, and more specifically, the Slovakian enigma that is Jaroslav Halak:
“I don’t know what happened but, I was working the World Cup of Hockey for ESPN and Jaroslav Halak was the best goalie in the tournament. I think that was a poor miscalculation not having him there last year. And then everybody said, ‘But he went down to Bridgeport and was awesome.’ Well, yeah — he’s an NHL goalie he’s supposed to be awesome in the American Hockey League. I think that’s what cost them the playoffs. It was one point.
“The biggest thing with Jaro is that he’s a deceiving goalie. He’s not the biggest, or the strongest and he’s not necessarily the quickest or the most athletic, but when he gets on he’s so good. His reads are on point, his positioning is on point and his timing is on point and all of those things are heightened when he’s on his game. When he’s confident, he’s a different goalie. His confidence takes his game to a different level. He’s also not afraid of the consequences. Not everybody has the stomach to play in the playoffs or the stomach to play in Montreal, let alone in the springtime in Montreal. I’m a big proponent of Halak’s. Even when he went to the AHL, which like I said should have never happened, he was great to all the players and staff down there. I understand the frustration the Islanders fans had with [the three-goalie] situation.”
Swooning over Josh Ho-Sang (before his assignment to the AHL):
“I’ve known Josh Ho-Sang since he was a kid. In fact, I’ve known his dad, Wayne, since we were kids together. I actually know Josh’s Uncle Brucie even better — we used to ride our bikes together when we were young and then we moved east to Scarborough and they moved to Thornhill so I haven’t seen them in forever. My dad used to see him and his wife at the rink all the time and he would always tell me, “Wait until you see Wayne’s kid.”
“Josh has always been a highly skilled, highly talented player coming up in Toronto and I think he’s done a lot of maturing as well, which is great for him. Hockey can be a very traditional sport in a lot of ways, where everything needs to be done the same way. There’s a lot of uniformity and for Josh, he’s a little more free-spirited and “non-traditional” in terms of his approach, or some of his interests outside of the game and maybe different elements of his personality. But he’s been able to channel that in a way that’s helped him rather than hindered him. I’m happy to see he’s doing well.”
Evaluating Garth Snow and the men upstairs:
“It’s been interesting with the Islanders because there have been so many moving parts with the Islanders. The arena deal, the ownership, the logistics of playing in Brooklyn and navigating that major change for a lot of the Islander fans. It’s been difficult. Nobody knows at this point if this ownership group sees Snowy as the guy going forward. It is still a great opportunity for him.”
On his short stint with the Islanders in 2000-01:
“It was a great opportunity for us, being young players. When you’re a young player and you get the chance to play good minutes, it’s great. It was unique and I loved playing in the market. I remember being on the plane, getting here from Vancouver and finally getting here and I just thought it was awesome. I just thought it was awesome to play in the New York Metro area. The Islanders were different than my experience playing for the Rangers or Devils. I felt like the Islanders were scrappier. It was kind of like, hey — we’re here too, don’t forget about us. Hey, we had one of the best dynasties in the history of the game, so you can’t forget about us. But at that time we were in a rebuilding phase.”
On “The Move”:
“I think it’s kind of changed now with not being at the Coliseum anymore and playing at Barclays but the bulk of the great Islander fans still reside on Long Island, so it’s kind of different and a little disjointed right now.”
You didn’t seriously think we’d let him go without fretting over John Tavares, did you?
“Everybody has a different take on whether or not Tavares will stay. Everybody has something different to say about it. Some people say he’s 70 percent gone, some people say 30 percent gone and others say he’s 50/50. The biggest things for me is that Dougie is the coach. Weight has done an excellent job to this point he and JT have an excellent relationship. But where are things going? What’s the next move with the franchise? What’s happening with the building? Where are they going to be playing? And when is all of this decided? And of course, do they make the playoffs? Your playing years are something you can never re-claim and you want to maximize on those years as best you can. You never know what’s going to happen. He’s highly competitive, he’s hyper-focused and he wants his team to have success. You don’t want to be a spectator while everybody else hoists the Cup.
“He is dialed in and wants to win and be a part of something good. You have him there so they need to do everything in their power to re-sign him. So what that situation looks like now, I don’t know.”
We’d like to thank Kevin for his time and we’d like to remind you, the reader, that you can catch Kevin all season long on NHL Network.