Alright, it’s really the off-season now and the Islanders lost to the Stanley Cup champions in a tightly contested Eastern Conference Final. Not a bad way to go out, if you ask me. But damn, after watching the Stars against the Lightning, I really feel like the Islanders would’ve been able to handle Dallas and win the Cup.
Anyway, some congratulations are in order. The Lightning were, by and large, the best team in this tournament. They needed five overtimes to conquer their demons against the Blue Jackets and finally beat them in a playoff game after last year’s debacle. But winning that Game 1 sent them off rolling through the rest of the playoffs and they never looked back, right up until their shutout to clinch the Cup in Game 6 last night. They were relentless.
It would not have surprised viewers if Tampa Bay tore it down after last season. This core had been in the mix for years. They had a historic regular season, only to get swept in the playoffs by the second wild card. But rather than rip it down to the studs, they tweaked it a little. Sure, they probably paid a bit much for Blake Coleman, and definitely overpaid for Barclay Goodrow, but it’s worth it if you win it all, right?
I still like to think the Islanders gave them their biggest challenge, though.
We asked you to share one word to describe what you love most about our Islanders.— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 28, 2020
We took all of those words and combined them to fill our logo. The three words that were submitted most?
Okay, now we can crank up the off-season for real.
- GM Lou Lamoriello wrote a letter to the fans thanking them for sticking through the season and assuring them of their preparation for next season. [Newsday]
- At the end of last week, Arthur Staple held a Q&A session. Among the notable pieces were the possibility of trading Josh Bailey and revisiting the Andrew Ladd–Zach Parise trade. [The Athletic]
- He also tried to identify potential buyout candidates, finding there aren’t too many on the Island due to signing bonuses and minimal savings. Relief will have to come via trade. [The Athletic]
- Larry Brooks and Mollie Walker did the same thing, Rangers included. [NY Post]
- LISTEN: Andrew Gross had former Newsday colleague Alan Hahn on the Island Ice podcast to talk about the old days and it was a great listen. So much to unpack. [Newsday]
- Scott Burnside suggested some destinations for free agents this fall. But he watched the Islanders this summer and decided they should sign all the defensemen. Sure, a Torey Krug would look great in orange and blue, but how do you watch this team and say “yeah, more defensemen over here, they don’t need scoring up front!” [The Athletic]
- Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson discussed Bridgeport’s preparation for the upcoming season. [NYI Hockey Now]
- Stan Fischler recalls the first two games against the Canadiens in the 1993 Eastern Conference Final, up in Montreal. [Maven’s Memories]
- The NHL announced its Off-Season Training Protocol. I am curious to see how everything unfolds outside the bubbles. [NHL]
- They’re considering hybrid bubbles for the upcoming season. [TSN]
- A Floridian called the cops on their Lightning fan neighbor for yelling “shoot!” A hockey parody story, it must be. [NY Post]
- Paul Coffey, the record-holder for most goals by a defenseman in a single postseason with 12, was rooting for Victor Hedman, now the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, to beat it. He finished with 10. [NHL]
- WATCH: Elliotte Friedman talked about what the Jets might be looking for in a Patrik Laine trade. [Sportsnet]
- He would be a big prize for any team that landed him, but a team with structure and a sound defensive game would really allow him to do his thing. [TSN]
- Meanwhile, Jack Eichel has not requested a trade from the Sabres, despite the speculation. A story big enough that it got Bob McKenzie out of semi-retirement. [NHL]
- Buffalo has a couple of buyout candidates, including old friend Kyle Okposo. [Die by the Blade]
- In a less consequential trade, the Blackhawks reacquired Brandon Pirri from the Golden Knights in exchange for Dylan Sikura. [NHL]
- Also, the Rangers got the Red Wings to take Marc Staal’s contract off their hands by gifting them a second-round pick. All for “future considerations,” or nothing. [NHL]
- Larry Brooks remembers the hit that probably stunted Marc Staal’s career—and it came from his brother, Eric Staal. [NY Post]