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Islanders News: Bailey in context, Johnston on committing to the Island

In which the next game is finally just over 48 hours away.

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
Islanders lifers.
Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

With a long week between games, the Islanders are now close to final prep for their next game in Nashville on Saturday afternoon. Barry Trotz won’t announce his goalie for that one, but he said whether Semyon Varlamov gets his first start after four weeks or five weeks or more, it’s pretty much all the same. He has to shake off the rust at some point.

Islanders News

We’ve got two Islanders who came to the team from opposite paths — undrafted, vs. first-round pick; hardly playing, vs. a guy climbing up the all-time games and points charts:

  • Ross Johnston spoke to media about his four-year contract extension: “The commitment from the core group and the all-around area of Long Island. It’s been a home for me and I’m very gracious to have the opportunity to stay here.” Barry Trotz continues to say, as he has before, that Johnston’s game has improved and his time may come. [Isles]
  • Somehow after 13 years I’m still taken off-guard by how controversial discussion of Josh Bailey can be. Dan discusses the crazy up-and-down ride of the Isles’ 10th-highest all-time scorer, who committed and recommitted to the Isles when others would not. [LHH]
  • Ilya Sorokin, savior of the Isles long road trip thus far. [Fourth Period | Post]
  • ICYMI: The official site’s Bridgeport report, plus Noel’s review of their weekend.

Elsewhere

Last night’s NHL scores include the Panthers remaining undefeated, the Capitals losing in OT, and the Flyers handing the Oilers their first loss.

  • Nikita Kucherov had “a procedure” and will miss 8-10 weeks. [ESPN]
  • Drew Doughty had a knee hyperextension and will miss 8 weeks. [NHL]
  • Ian Cole of the Hurricanes says this squad reminds him of the Penguins team that won two consecutive Cups. [NHL]
  • The ECHL’s newest entry, the Savannah Ghost Pirates, have a pretty sweet name and logo. [ECHL]
  • 16 stats in the early-going, including poor results from the Isles’ 2nd and 4th lines. [Athletic]
  • Travis Hamonic has resolved the personal matters that kept him from reporting to camp and will be assigned to Vancouver’s AHL affiliate. [NHL]
  • I didn’t read this Leafs article but I’m sure somewhere in there “it starts with me.” [TSN]
  • David Backes, who retired this summer and lost both a gold medal Olympic final and a Stanley Cup final, nicely describes why it’s worth the journey — and the risk of crushing defeat [Athletic]:

That’s the commitment you need to your teammates and to every shift — to say, “I’m all in. And this is either going to hurt like hell, or this is gonna be glorious as all get-out.” And that’s the risk. Either you put that on the line, and you make it that far, or you’re not willing to put that on the line. And Round 1, you’re like, “You know what, this isn’t for me.” And you don’t have enough guys willing to do that. And you never get past those first couple of rounds, and you wallow a little bit in mediocrity.

But if you’re willing to say, “I’m in. I’m either gonna take a gut punch, or I’m gonna raise the Cup.” That, to me, is what you wager in order to get to that point.”

Blackhawks Scandal Fallout, John Doe Interview

The rest of this post is about the Blackhawks scandal, so skim past if you prefer — or engage with sincerity, on a sensitive topic:

  • Current Blackhawks say the dumping of Stan Bowman “probably needed to happen.” [ESPN]
  • But the fallout isn’t complete. [Sportsnet]
  • Kevin Cheveldayoff will individually meet with Gary Bettman. [TSN] So will Joel Quenneville, today. [Sportsnet]
  • NHLPA head Donald Fehr issued an apology to Beach for association not providing him more support when he shared his story. [Yahoo Sports]
  • The Hawks prioritized their Cup run and revenue over taking more decisive action. (And while they are rightly ripped for it, this is hardly unique to their organization). [Sportsnet | Athletic]

The pro hockey player known as John Doe in the Blackhawks/Brad Aldrich sexual assault case disclosed his identity and discussed his story in a lengthy broadcast interview with Rick Westhead, the reporter who broke this story and clearly has Kyle Beach’s trust. It’s a heartrenching but important interview. Maybe one of the biggest parts is why he came forward to tell his story, when asked what he would say to the Michigan teen who later was a victim of the same predator:

I’m sorry I didn’t do more, when I could, to make sure it didn’t happen to him. To protect him. But I also wanted to say thank you to him. Because when I decided, after a teammate asked me about it when I was playing overseas, and I decided to Google Brad Aldrich’s name and that’s when I found out about the Michigan individual, the Michigan team. And because of what happened to him, it gave me the power and the sense of urgency to take action, to make sure it didn’t happen to anybody else. So, I’m sorry, and I thank you.

Hopefully it does inspire other victims to come forward — though unfortunately Beach’s story underlines why that is so rare, and why experts tell us that sexual assaults are underreported: Organizations, brands, bureaucracies, and career/goal-minded individuals have greater incentive to sweep such things under the rug...and hope it never comes out — or more likely, given human nature, hope it’s not something they ever truly have to deal with.

I am not a counselor, nor an expert or case manager, but of the people I know directly who’ve told me about their sexual assault experience at the predatory hands of a known person/person-in-power/acquaintance/relative (as opposed to the rarer “stranger” assailant), in every case the reporting process did not go well, was met with at least initial denial and/or “it couldn’t be” reactions, and the kinds of responses that make an already traumatized and disoriented victim feel worse about themself and their sense of reality, morality, and culpability.

Watching Beach’s interview reflecting on the 11 years since this happened, I recognize a lot of the same factors in his case, and it underlines why so many victims’ advocates want (what some perceive as) harsh accountability for those who knew but did nothing: to make clear that it’s not acceptable to look the other way. On that note, if you’ve ever responded to a mandatory training for sexual harassment or Title IX (or hell, even cybersecurity training) with derision and “This is pointless, why are they making me do this...?” then this case should make clear why, even if the methods to try to prevent it are imperfect: Institutional inertia is hard to overcome, and members of an organization need to understand the gravity of the stakes, lest another life be derailed.

What’s scary is it could’ve been any NHL franchise in this position. (That’s not to defend the Blackhawks, heavens no; it’s to say if you’re upset by this, don’t treat them as the lone gunman. It can happen in your beloved organization/team/group unless there is a strong ethos and protocol in place to act swiftly, something the Blackhawks were unwilling to do even this summer.)

One of the maddening things about what’s happened over the last few days is that none of the executives or players who knew have said they’re sorry. It’s one thing to not understand it at the time, it’s quite another to spend the next decade pretending it didn’t happen or you didn’t know, until a thorough investigation shows otherwise. [Athletic]