Blog | Orange & Blue

Isles Alums Set to Star in Playoffs


Isles alums set to star in playoffs



The Islanders didn’t qualify for the NHL playoffs yet again this season. But that doesn’t mean you have to just root against the Rangers who did. There are a handful of former Islanders’ players who are key contributors on at least 13 of the 16 teams in the playoffs.

Only the Ducks, Rangers and Kings don’t have any former Isles on their respective rosters.

The players range from big names of the Isles’ past like Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and veteran Todd Bertuzzi, who has been with Detroit in recent years, to more recent stars like former team captain Mark Streit (Philly) and recent trades Thomas Vanek (Montreal), Matt Moulson (Minnesota), Andrew MacDonald (Philly) and Peter Regin (Chicago).

Former Islanders with other teams in the NHL Playoffs
Minnesota Wild: Matt Moulson and Nino Niederreiter
Colorado Avalanche: PA Parenteau
Chicago Blackhawks: Peter Regin
St. Louis Blues: Keith Aucoin
*Dallas Stars: Tim Thomas
San Jose Sharks: Raffi Torres
Detroit Redwings: Todd Bertuzzi
Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara
Montreal Canadiens: Thomas Vanek
Tampa Bay Lightening: Eric Brewer
Columbus Blue Jackets: Black Comeau and James Wisniewski
Pittsburgh Penguins: Taylor Pyatt
Philadelphia Flyers: Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald
*Tim Thomas never actually played for the Islanders, but his rights were acquired last season in a trade with Boston.

Chris Vaccaro
Author: Chris Vaccaro
Chris R. Vaccaro is a journalist, author and professor from Long Island. Vaccaro, who serves as Sports Editor of The Topps Company, is an adjunct journalism professor at Hofstra University, a board member for the Press Club of Long Island and has written five books about Long Island sports history.

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Isles rank No. 2 on SI’s fan misery list


It’s hard to believe the Islanders were in the playoffs and nearly knocked off the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs just a year ago. It’s like the 2012-2013 season was an anomaly.

The 2013-2014 season is more like it. Islanders’ fans are used to this. A majority of the fan base is too young to remember the glory years. The names and history of the team that won four straight Stanley Cups from 1979-1983 is pushed to some banners on the rafters at the ancient Nassau Coliseum.

Instead, most fans have bad memories; ones of poor trades, mismanagement, embarrassing owners and lots of losing. 

For all its poor decisions and even worse performances, Sports Illustrated recently ranked the franchise as the second worst in hockey for fan misery. Only the Maple Leafs, who have as much history as any franchise in sports history, yet have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, provides more misery for its fans, according to SI’s feature.

The Isles’ misery story read as you’d expect. They chalked up the franchise’s worst trades, news stories and failures to bad management. From conflicted owners to lackluster general managers, the Isles have had their share of weak and daunting tailspins.

The same week this story came out, happened to be when Charles Wang expressed interest again in selling the franchise. The future was already uncertain with the team headed to Brooklyn in 2015 and now there are even more questions.

Will the next owner actually spend money on talent and invest in the team? Will the next owner keep Garth Snow on as general manager? Is there a chance the team actually comes back to Nassau County for good?

Being anything more than miserable as an Islanders fan isn’t quite an option right now and probably not anytime soon in the near future. Such is life in Orange & Blue.

Chris Vaccaro
Author: Chris Vaccaro
Chris R. Vaccaro is a journalist, author and professor from Long Island. Vaccaro, who serves as Sports Editor of The Topps Company, is an adjunct journalism professor at Hofstra University, a board member for the Press Club of Long Island and has written five books about Long Island sports history.

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Ranking the worst Islanders trades of all-time




The website NHLTradeTracker.com is wonderful for so many reasons. Just when you wanted a list of every trade in NHL history, the wonderful folks at that URL come through in the clutch.

I’ll cut to the chase and keep this more about the bullet points you’re about to read and less about a longwinded analytical breakdown of why the Islanders have failed on so many trades over the years. It seems like more than the average team, but in reality most teams in all sports make goofball decisions. That’s why general managers don’t last too from team to team.

Putting contracts, walk years, and trade deadline thinking aside, just eyeballing these trades based on star power and how some of these names developed will tell you enough about a handful of the mistakes made by the Isles front office.

Here it goes (key player lost is in bold):

*2013-2014: Thomas Vanek acquired from Buffalo for Matt Moulson, 2014 1st Round Pick and 2015 2nd Round Pick. Then Vanek was traded to Montreal at the deadline for Sebastian Collberg and a 2014 conditional 2nd Round Pick.

*2000: Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen traded to Florida for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish.

*2001: Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and 2001 1st Round Pick (Jason Spezza) to Ottawa for Alexei Yashin.

*1999: Ziggy Palffy, Bryan Smolinski, Marcel Cousineau and a 4th Round Pick in 1999 to the Kings for Mathieu Biron, Josh Green, Olli Jokinen and a 1st Round Pick in 1999 (Taylor Pyatt).

*1999: Robert Reichel, 1999 3rd Round Pick and 1999 4th Round Pick to Phoenix for Brad Isbister and a 1999 3rd Round Pick.

*1998: Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a 1998 3rd Round Pick to Vancouver for Trevor Linden.

*1996: Darius Kasparaitis, Andreas Johansson to Pittsburgh for Bryan Smolinski.

*1996: Wade Redden and Damian Rhodes to Ottawa for Don Beaupre, Bryan Berard and Martin Straka.

There are certainly more, but giving away players like Bertuzzi, Luongo, Chara or Redden way before their primes, or fan favorites like Palffy or Kasparaitis, for little in return tends to sting.

Why Reichel, you ask? He’s the one example of a veteran player who still have some solid years left in the league, but was dealt for little in return. There are dozens of others who fit that bill as well.

Be mindful that other trades may not have happened either without certain pieces being in place over time. Pat LaFontaine was traded to Buffalo for Pierre Turgeon (and other players). Later, Turgeon was traded to Montreal for Mathieu Snider (and other players). Then Snider was traded to Toronto along with Wendel Clark in the deal that brought a first round pick (eventually Luongo) and Kenny Jonsson, a future Islanders Hall of Famer.

Two morals of this story: NHLTradeTacker.com is an awesome and easy to use platform with more info then you’ll ever need and front offices make a ton of decisions that are fun to look back on decades later.

Chris Vaccaro
Author: Chris Vaccaro
Chris R. Vaccaro is a journalist, author and professor from Long Island. Vaccaro, who serves as Sports Editor of The Topps Company, is an adjunct journalism professor at Hofstra University, a board member for the Press Club of Long Island and has written five books about Long Island sports history.

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Islanders Bobblehead Wish List


bobble

It’s known around these parts that my bobblehead collection is a growing thing of beauty. It’s in the 200-plus range. When I travel, I purchase bobbleheads. When I go to games, I purchase tickets to bobblehead giveaway days. Recently I started writing to professional sports team marketing and business executives to pick their brains and consult on bobblehead giveaway ideas.

Many teams, especially in Major League Baseball, understand that a good bobblehead giveaway provides historical context, tells a story and sometimes is good enough to make news. The Dodgers, for example, gave away a Rick Monday American Flag Cubs bobblehead last year when Chicago came to town to honor their former player who happened to make history at Dodger Stadium while playing for the Cubs decades ago. He also played for the Dodgers, so there was a dual connection. This year the Twins are giving away a Lou Gehrig bobblehead on Fourth of July. Why? Because it’s the 75th Anniversary of Gehrig’s famous speech, which happened when the Yankees played the Washington Senators, who eventually became the Twins. It makes sense. It always does.

In the early 2000s, the New York Islanders were very progressive with bobblehead giveaways. They gave out dozens, from legends like Mike Bossy and Bobby Nystrom, to stars of the time like Kenny Jonsson and Alexei Yashin.

Unfortunately, the designs were very basic compared to the stadium giveaways of today. They’re all stubby and round, whereas today’s have actual individualized detail that will catch your eye and force you to appreciate it’s artistic value. I just picked up a Peter Laviolette bobble on eBay for $3.99 and it got me thinking. If the Islanders started giving away bobbleheads again, which five should they do immediately?

1. Bobby Nystrom game winning goal: May 24, 1980. 7:11 of overtime. You know all about it. Now let’s get a bobblehead where Nystrom either has his hands raised in celebration, or is fully jumping with his legs in the air as you see in many historic photographs of the moment.

2. Legends set: The Dodgers have been doing this a lot and it works. Put multiple players on one platform. For the Islanders, you’d expect a legendary lineup of Bossy, Nystrom, Billy Smith, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier.

3. Denis Potvin Stanley Cup: You could do any number of Islanders hoisting the Stanley Cup and the organization should consider it, but if you had to choose one player to hold Lord Stanley it hast to be Potvin. His legacy will forever shine bright as one of only a handful of players in NHL history to captain four straight Stanley Cup winners.

4. Ken Morrow 1980 dual bobble: I’d suggest releasing a bobblehead with Morrow wearing his 1980 Olympic Gold Medal and uniform on one side and him hoisting the Stanley Cup on the other.

5. Tavares Team Canada: I’ll give you one modern idea to chew on. This is very doable and you may even see this one day. A John Tavares bobblehead in Team Canada garb would be a hot item with international appeal.

Chris Vaccaro
Author: Chris Vaccaro
Chris R. Vaccaro is a journalist, author and professor from Long Island. Vaccaro, who serves as Sports Editor of The Topps Company, is an adjunct journalism professor at Hofstra University, a board member for the Press Club of Long Island and has written five books about Long Island sports history.

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Four Isles flex Olympic muscles


isls

As the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi you’ll have to wait a few days until hockey begins. This year Islanders fans can root for a number of countries besides their beloved Team USA.

The farther Canada and Austria go, the longer you’ll have a chance to watch John Tavares (Canada), Thomas Vanek (Austria) and Michael Grabner (Austria).

“It’s a huge honor and was a goal and dream of mine as a kid,” said Tavares in a story in this month’s Islanders game day program. “Watching four years ago I wanted to give myself the opportunity to play for my country and win a gold medal. There are a lot of emotions and to receive the call is pretty special. It’s so much all at once, you just try to grasp it all.”

The Islanders video and public address staff paid tribute to the team’s Olympians as well as the Olympians competing on the Colorado Avalanche during the team’s final home game before the Olympic break on Saturday.

“It’s an honor to play for your country, especially on a stage like this,” said Vanek. “For us, it’s fun to be there. We have a tough task ahead of us. It comes down to goaltending and we’ll have to play smart, but we have some guys in the lineup that can make plays. Are we going to be huge underdogs?

We will be, but we have to play smart.”

Lubomir Vishnovsky was selected to his fifth Olympic games for Team Slovakia, but was not cleared to participate after Islanders doctors evaluated him following the Islanders’ final game before the Olympic break Saturday against Colorado, according to a release from the team. He missed 45 of 60 regular season games so far this season due to a concussion.

“I’m honored to have been selected to represent Slovakia at the Sochi Games,” Visnovsky said in a release. “I’m disappointed that I will not have this opportunity to compete for my country, but respect the decision the Islanders have made. I’m excited to watch Team Slovakia compete throughout the next two weeks and wish them all the best.”

The men’s Olympic hockey schedule kicks off Wednesday in Sochi. Canada opens up against Norway on Thursday, while Austria plays Finland the same day.

Chris Vaccaro
Author: Chris Vaccaro
Chris R. Vaccaro is a journalist, author and professor from Long Island. Vaccaro, who serves as Sports Editor of The Topps Company, is an adjunct journalism professor at Hofstra University, a board member for the Press Club of Long Island and has written five books about Long Island sports history.

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