The New York Islanders take their four-game winless streak into Edmonton, where of course they face two headwinds: 1) the shockingly struggling Oilers finally got their act together with a big, convincing win in Seattle on Saturday, and then 2) their management fired coach Jay Woodcroft anyway.
So the Oilers will likely also benefit from that fired-coach bounce as they aim to impress the new guy, Kris Knoblauch, who I’m sure many will remember for his struggles throwing to first base with the Yankees.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here.
In Praise of Pierre
The NHL’s official site had a lot of nice coverage of the Hall of Fame class, including some narratives by teammates of the new inductees. A piece by Mario Lemieux about Tom Barrasso was embarrassingly short and devoid of substance, but a piece by Ray Ferraro on Pierre Turgeon hit all the right notes.
Full disclosure: I freaking loved (and still love) Pierre Turgeon, who is still my favorite non-dynasty Islander (nobody tell Frans). The Pat LaFontaine contract fight and trade demand was devastating, but Turgeon was the perfect antidote for it. Turgeon was a quiet, humble yet brilliant magician on the ice, and I still marvel at his mix of vision and skills. He had a certain hunch to his posture when he was sizing up his options, especially from behind the net or along the wing, and it was always a joy to see which teammate and lane he was picking out with a pass.
Don Maloney’s short-sighted, lockout season trade of Turgeon — for #$%ing Kirk Muller of all people — was devastation all over again. But being in St. Louis a few years later, I had the surreal luxury of a second act with Turgeon. Mike Keenan did a lot of stupid things as dictator of the Blues, but his best move was dumping Shayne Corson and Murray Baron for Turgeon and Craig Conroy. I giddily told friends how much they were going to love Turgeon (I was right) and I got to bust out my then too-small Islanders’ 77 TURGEON jersey for one of his first games with the Blues.
One more coda on Sneaky Pete: When the Blues hosted an outdoor Stadium Series/Classic/Heritage/Whatever game, the outdoor alumni game beforehand was Wayne Gretzky’s last appearance at one of those (he looked glacial, almost inert, but said he’d do one last game for the fans). Brett Hull similarly looked like a beached barge. But two guys who flew around the ice were Turgeon and Peter Stastny. Dudes clearly stayed fit and could play. It was hilarious watching them skate circles around the rest of the old-timers.
Anyway, I’m just really glad Turgeon gets this well-deserved honor. In terms of class, he was the polar opposite of that lowlife, sore-loser shit-for-soul D*le H*nt*r. Ferraro’s piece is right on the mark, and includes a video with Turgeon — still looking like he could play today — graciously describing all the stops in his NHL career.
- More love for Turgeon, from Derek King and others: “His hockey IQ is off the charts. What takes me five seconds to realize there’s a play, he does it in under a second.” [Post]
- The Isles see this road trip as a great opportunity to build momentum. Honestly I’d just take a couple of wins. [Newsday]
- Matt Moulson chips in with some “try hockey for free” efforts on Long Island. [THN]
- Bo Horvat’s response to question about the “fire Lambert” chants wasn’t as terse as Casey Cizikas’s, but basically the “it’s on us to change it,” etc. [Post]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Stars putting up an absurd seven special teams goals against the Wild.
- So yes, the Oilers fired Woodcroft. [NHL] As is often the case, the Oilers’ struggles are hardly all due to the coach. [Sportsnet]
- It’s a wakeup call (again) for the Oilers players, and the pressure is now on them. [Oilers Nation]
- Although he can’t hit first base to save his life, new Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch should bring an “even keel” approach. [NHL]
- Former Czech national team goalie and (briefly) Flyers star Roman Cechmanek has died at age 52. [NHL]
- Nikita Zadorov is ready to get out of Calgary, and several teams are interested, including the defenseless How Does This Affect The Leafs. [TSN]
- As the current chair of the Hall of Fame, Lanny McDonald relished getting to announce the news to his old teammate, Mike Vernon. [NHL]
- Vernon, Barrasso and Henrik Lundqvist enjoy a unique bond as the HOF finally acknowledges goaltenders again. [NHL]
- Former teammate and competitor Kelly Hrudey describes the smarts and drive that made Vernon a star despite a diminutive frame. [NHL]