Tag:New York Islanders
Posted on: May 24, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 1:01 am

Reports: Rafalski, Weight set to retire

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski and New York Islanders center Doug Weight -- American-born players with Stanley Cup titles to their credit -- are reportedly both expected to announce their retirements soon.

Rafalski, 38, hampered this season with back and knee injuries, is expected to make the announcement “in the coming weeks,” Rogers SportsNet reported on Monday. The Detroit Free Press reported that the GM Ken Holland has not been informed by Rafalski about his status for next season:

“I know there are tons of rumors out there,” Holland said. “Rafi has told me he’s not 100% sure what he’s doing next year. I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, and he’s doing a lot of thinking about whether he’s playing next year or not. But I haven’t talked to him in a week.”

Rafalski could not be reached for comment.

He has one year and $6 million left on the five-year, $30-million contract he signed in the summer of 2007.

The Islanders put out a release calling for a news conference on Thursday where Weight “will announce his decision on the future of his NHL playing career.” Newsday reports that Weight will likely retire and take a position in the organization.

Rafalski, who has been paired with Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, was part of the Red Wings’ last championship team in 2008. He also won Cups with the New Jersey Devils, the team he broke into the league with in 1999-00, in 2000 and 2003.

Weight debuted with the New York Rangers in 1990-91 and played for the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks before he joined the Islanders for the 2008-09 season. He won the title with the Hurricanes in 2006.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 11, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 2:53 am

Islanders could have a winner in arena proposal

It may not be as imminent as the situations in Phoenix or Atlanta, but the New York Islanders’ tenure at the aged Nassau County Coliseum is untenable.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said as much in a release today that was circulated before a news conference that announced plans to put a new arena next to the current 39-year-old relic with $350 million in funds from county-backed bonds. Voters will go to the polls Aug 1 and a simple majority is all that would be needed to finally give the Islanders a new pad.

“Without a new arena, we will lose the Islanders, shutter the aging Coliseum and besides losing present jobs, will lose the currently substantial economic benefits including all the existing arena and secondary jobs,” Mangano said.  “The construction of a new home for the Islanders and the redevelopment of the Coliseum site will generate thousands of construction and secondary construction jobs plus thousands of permanent jobs.”

The overall bond would be for $400 million with $50 million going to a new minor league ballpark. Former Islanders executive and founder of the Islanders Point Blank blog Chris Botta wrote in a special column for ESPN New York that this referendum should gain approval, unless both the Islanders and area politicians “really whiff on this empty-netter.”

Since we’re talking about the Islanders AND politicians, maybe Isles fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. Botta, however, said the date this referendum will be voted on shouldn’t go unnoticed:  
The key here is Aug. 1. Think about it. The vote is not going to be on Election Day, when tens of thousands of Nassau residents would be in position for a knee-jerk rejection of a $400 million expense by a bankrupt county. (The fact is, county taxes are not expected to go up if Wang gets the dough for his building on the Coliseum property. The bond will be covered by eventual revenue from the new facility).

The Aug. 1 date, mandated by Mangano, naturally irks the opposition. Aug. 1 is a Monday in the summer. Think about the people who will be inspired to vote Yes or No, to make the effort to drive to the polling stations to take a stand on one issue on a Monday during a Long Island summer.

But it may not be that easy. Brian Gallof of HockeyIndependent.com reports the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority -- the state-appointed agency that oversees the county's finances --  isn't all too happy with the proposal. 

NIFA is deeply concerned about the County Executive’s proposal and its fiscal implications for the County. There was no consultation with NIFA regarding this major proposal announced today. During the control period, greater coordination is warranted.NIFA’s approval is required for all County borrowing, including the $400 million in new debt proposed today, and for all major contracts.

Minus this failed attempt, the Islanders are likely headed out of town once the lease at the coliseum expires in 2015.

The Lighthouse Project, the brainchild of Islanders owner Charles Wang and county leaders, was all but doomed from the start. The proposed multi-billion dollar project included not only a new arena and a minor league park, but also residential neighborhoods and a five-star hotel. 

Independent Islanders blog Lighthouse Hockey theorizes why the new proposal could actually succeed. 
Well, I mean, it might not. But in short, it has a better shot because the major political players involved are on board, and it's not a $3 billion-plus proposal that scares the daylights out of NIMBY suburbanites. Presumably these now united political forces can marshal their supporters and "friends of influence" to get it through.
Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray -- a major player in blocking the LHP -- is on board with this plan and was a featured speaker at today's presser. (Yes, she was booed.)

  Of course, just because Wang, Mangano and Murray are all singing the same tune, there are still the hurdles mentioned above -- county legislature, voter referendum and, presumably, NIFA.

-- A.J .Perez
Category: NHL
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 5:53 pm

Calder Trophy: Skinner received my top vote

San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture, New York Islanders winger Michael Grabner and Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner were unveiled as the three finalists for the Calder Trophy -- the NHL’s version of the rookie of the year award -- on Tuesday. This a solid rookie class where an argument could be made for any of these three to be handed the trophy in June. As a proud, voting member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, here’s my top 3:

1. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes: This was one of the votes that I went back and forth on several times before I submitted my ballot. In the end, I gave Skinner the nod since the 18-year-old performed at a consistent level for nearly the entire season on a team that was in the playoff hunt until Game No. 82. Skinner led all rookies in points (63), was second in assists (32) and third in goals (31). He was a fixture on Carolina’s shootout from the beginning of the season and contributed key goals down the stretch, minus which Carolina wouldn’t have even been a contender. Also, I put a slight priority on centers over wingers if all else is equal.

2. Michael Grabner, New York Islanders : While Skinner was the seventh overall pick in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Grabner wasn’t even the Isles' property at the end of training camp. They claimed Grabner off waivers on Oct. 5 and he went on to lead the Islanders in goals (34), which was also tops among rookies. Probably even more impressive was his plus-minus (plus-13), a stat that doesn’t alway treat first-year players too well. At 23, he’s five years older than Skinner. I didn’t use that as a factor in my voting. I also didn't take into account he's one of the best follows on Twitter

3. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks: On a team with Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, Couture was still one of the team’s most consistent forwards. Along with his speed, Couture is a tenacious back-checker and one of the best young finishers in the game. He was second on the Sharks (and among rookies) in goals (32). The line he typically centered with Ryane Clowe along with Heatley or others on the wings was often the Sharks line that got them revved up en route to another Pacific Division title. 

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: April 4, 2011 12:49 pm

NHL award voting boycott spreads

The boycott of the NHL postseason awards voting stretched beyond the New York area on Monday. 

David Boclair, sports editor of The City Papery in Nashville, sent an e-mail to every Professional Hockey Writers Association member explaining why he joined with his counterparts in New York and New Jersey who decided days earlier to forgo voting as a protest for the treatment of writer/blogger Chrs Botta, who had his credential yanked by the New York Islanders in November. Here’s a Boclair explanation why:

As a professional organization, our first responsibility is to our membership, not in trying to placate league or team officials. I proudly stand behind Mr. Botta, and the metropolitan New York chapters of the PHWA.

If the league and this particular franchise have no respect for our position on this matter, which strikes at the very heart of the news gathering process, then any endorsement of whom we believe is the best goalie or the most sportsmanlike player is absolutely meaningless.

Twenty PHWA chapters took part in a conference call on Sunday and a resolution was passed, 17-0 with one abstention, to proceed with voting. As part of the resolution, the PHWA would push for a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the Stanley Cup Final to help clear up the long-running issued with the Islanders. 

The PHWA selects the Hart, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng and Selke awards.

Boclair had an idea if the Isles don’t relent and let Botta back in the press box:

Finally, I am outraged at the arrogance displayed by the New York Islanders in their initial decision and recent response to our concerns and I am open to any sort of sanctions we could levy against them, including a league-wide media blackout.

Botta worked for the Islanders for two decades and left as the team’s vice president of media relations. Along with running his own blog (Islanders Point Blank), we worked together at the since-shuttered AOL FanHouse. He was the site's lead hockey writer when the Islanders ban began. Here’s what he wrote on this topic over the weekend:

So that there is 100% certainty, understand this: I was not, in any way, behind the movement by the local chapters of the PHWA to protest the Islanders’ decision to ban me by not participating in the balloting for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng and Selke awards. I also did not participate in any of the voting by the three chapters. I was aware of the New York chapter’s decision because they first voted on it three months ago before confirming its vote this week. I learned of the actions of the Long Island and New Jersey chapters around the same time most of you did.

-- A.J. Perez
Category: NHL
Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:50 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:52 am

Morning Skate: Should teams pay for head hits?

Possibly the most interesting of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s five suggestions to help curb the rise in concussions was penalizing teams and coaches who habitually run afoul of the league's supplementary discipline program.

“The notion is if there's a situation or a club where this seems to be out of the norm, something that continues to happen on a repeated basis, it should be addressed,” Bettman (above, right) told reporters at the GM meetings on Monday. 

We suggested yesterday that it should be called the “Trevor Gillies Rule” -- and that was before ESPN.com reported Mario Lemieux sent a letter to the league asking for a sliding scale. Here’s how Lemieux (above, left) would make the fine structure for teams: 
  • 1-2 games: $50,000 
  • 3-4 games: $100,000 
  • 5-8 games: $250,000 
  • 9-10 games: $500,000 
  • 11-15 games: $750,000 
  • More than 15 games: $1 million 

Gillies, an enforcer on the New York Islanders, received what the Penguins faithful felt was a lenient nine-game ban after a blindside hit to the head of Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi on Feb. 11. In his first game back from suspension, he delivered a similar hit to Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck that resulted in a 10-game suspension. 

The Islanders were fined $100,000 for thier role in the brawl against the Pens, although Isles coach Jack Capuano was not sanctioned.

“While there have been 50-plus suspensions since the start of the 2009-10 season, the suspensions themselves don't seem to be deterring these illegal acts and tactics," wrote Lemieux. "And we've often seen repeat offenders. We think it is time that teams also are held accountable for the actions of their players. We propose instituting a policy of automatically fining a team when one if its players is suspended -- with the amount of the fine based on the length of the suspension. This should serve as a disincentive for teams as well as players to employ these kinds of tactics."

And, as the letter obtained by ESPN.com points out, the Pens would be on the hook for $600,000 had this been put in place before the season thanks to Matt Cooke (four games) and Eric Godard (10 games). 

It will also be interesting to see what will be addressed from an equipment standpoint. The league and the players union have agreed to putting soft caps on elbow and shoulder pads in recent seasons, doing away with the equipment that looked like it was suited more for an offensive lineman than a forward. 

Still, not much has evolved when it comes to the helmet. Few players are using the more advanced Cascade Messier Project helmet introduced a couple years ago and Mark Messier, who teamed with sister on the project, thinks he knows why. 

"I think (NHL players) look at it sometimes and feel that because we live in such a bravado world that if they're wearing that helmet you must have a fear ... that you're afraid," Messier told The Montreal Gazette

Line Changes

He should know. For years he wore the old Jofa lid that was marketed as a broomball helmet with the warning “not for hockey use” when I began playing the sport.

To solve this concussion issue -- if that will ever truly happen -- there needs to be change of attitude on a few different levels. If you’re not going to listen to Bettman for whatever reason, it’s hard to ignore the suggestions from Hall of Famers such as Lemieux and Messier. 

Tampa Bay 6, Toronto 2 
Chicago 6, San Jose 3
Vancouver 4 Minnesota 2

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:32 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:48 am
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Posted on: March 4, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 3:56 pm

Surprise: Trevor Gillies gets 10-game suspension

New York Islanders enforcer Trevor Gillies was suspended 10 games for a headshot delivered to Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck, the NHL announced Friday afternoon. 

“By targeting his opponent's head, three shifts into his first game back from a suspension for a very similar action, Mr. Gillies has forfeited his privilege of playing in the League for 10 games,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations, in a statement. “While it is fortunate there was no injury on the play, there can be no justification for a player delivering a dangerous check to an opponent in this manner."

The incident occurred Wednesday in Gillies' first game back from a nine-game suspension for a blindside hit to the head of Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi on Feb. 11. Unlike Tangradi who had to be helped off the ice, Clutterbuck remained in the gamne. 

Either way, Gillies was considered a repeat offender by the league. 

Gillies met with NHL officials in Toronto on Friday, a sign that he was in store for a lengthy penalty. In the 33 games that he has played in this season, the 32-year-old winger has 124 penalty minutes and one point. As New York Times SlapShot blogger Chris Botta points out, Gillies has played less than four minutes over his last two games and has been suspended a total of 19 games. 

Gillies will forfeit it $60,975.60 in salary and will be eligible to return March 26 for a game against the Flyers

With players like Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby on the shelf for long periods of time with concussion-like symptoms and the revelation this week that late NHL enforcer Bob Probert had signs of a degenerative brain disorder, a double-digit suspension was likely an easy call for the NHL.

Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:56 am
Edited on: March 2, 2011 4:21 am

Morning skate 3-2-11: Quick payoffs

Jason Arnott assisted on the equalizer for the Washington Capitals with 48 seconds left in regulation. Rostislav Klesla’s helper was part of the Phoenix Coyotes’ late run. Scottie Upshall forced OT with a second-period goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets

Overall, several deadline day acquisitions made immediate impacts as they donned new sweaters on Tuesday. That’s not even counting Brad Boyes (power-play goal for the Buffalo Sabres) and Cory Stillman (goal and an assist for the Carolina Hurricanes), both acquired days before Monday’s deadline who also contributed to their new teams. (OK, it was also for an old team in Stillman’s case.)

Here’s a breakdown of the highlights: 

GREAT 8 RESURFACES: No, not the ice -- even if Alex Ovechkin has blended into the background during some games as much as your average Zamboni driver this season. Ovechkin, who is almost certain to finish with a career low in goals, scored his 25th of the season -- and quietly his league-leading ninth game-winning goal -- in overtime to send the Caps to a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders. (He also had a secondary assist on Brooks Laich’s goal in the final minute of regulation.) Nathan Lawson, playing his ninth NHL game, made a game-high 40 saves before Ovechkin made a stellar deke 1:55 into the extra period. Here’s the video: 

DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE DESERT: The Phoenix Coyotes’ rally from two goals down late in the third period against the division rival Dallas Stars sputtered not long after Ray Whitney tied the game with 38 seconds left. Radim Vrbata took a hooking penalty – an infraction Stars forward Mike Ribeiro made sure the refs didn’t miss -- with 13 seconds left in regulation. Jamie Benn then scored with five seconds left in regulation (video below) as the Stars moved up two slots in the standings with those vital two points via the 3-2 victory. 

Bruins’ PERFECT FINISH: The Boston Bruins wrapped up their first 6-0 trip since Bobby Orr roamed the blue line with a 1-0 victory in Ottawa. (That 1972 season was also the last time Boston hoisted the Stanley Cup.) Nathan Horton banged in the game’s lone goal early in the third period for the Bruins, who were called “spaghetti-legged” by CSN Boston’s Joe Haggerty. Tuukka Rask, who won his fourth consecutive game, made 33 saves in the shutout. 

LINE CHANGES: Buffalo Sabers goalie Ryan Miller has appeared more locked than at any point this season, which doesn’t bode well for teams vying for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Miller stopped 29 shots in the Sabres’ 3-2 victory over the host New York Rangers --- the seventh consecutive game he’s given up two or fewer goals. Entering play Wednesday, the Sabres are a point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East and Buffalo has two games in hand. . . . In a night that featured eight one-goal games and one two-goal game that included an empty-netter, no contest went as long as Columbus Blue Jackets-Vancouver Canucks. Roberto Luongo, who has been knocked previously for his play in the shootouts, earned a 2-1 decision after an eight-round shootout. . . . The San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers also won in shootouts. The nod for the snazziest goal in the post-overtime portion goes Edmonton’s Linus Omark. Here's a look: 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com