It was no surprise to me that Chris Simon would be back in the line up for the Islanders the very first day his suspension would end.
My friend Kevin Gibson from TSN emailed me yesterday morning that it was confirmed Simon had a roster spot.
“Ha! I knew it two days ago.” I wrote back.
It wasn’t a fact I had heard from a reliable source, it was purely “woman’s intuition“, knowing Ted, and reading between the lines of every press conference he had given in recent days.
There was no way he was going to let Simon wait to get back to work.
I told Gibby “He’ll give him 6 shifts to get him started.”
I was off a little. Ted gave him 9 shifts and 6:17 of ice time.
I didn’t expect Jeff Tambellini to be sent back to Bridgeport, but someone had to go and Jeff drew the short straw.
Well, not really since Tamby has a huge impact for the Sound Tigers who are also doing very well right now.
That full moon is working magic for both clubs right now.
I personally didn’t hear the fan reaction when Chris Simon stepped out onto the ice for his first shift back.
I don’t know if I was preoccupied with my laptop, or on the phone getting great news about the birth of a friend’s new baby boy, but I didn’t hear any reaction from the crowd.
I watched his next few shifts carefully to see how he reacted and how others reacted to him.
He seemed only slightly uncomfortable, but more so because of rust than fear. Later he said that his timing is off, but his wind is good. He had been skating all along.
I took notice of the size difference between Chris and St. Louis when they were on the ice.
Yes, he is a massive man, even among other massive men.
He isn’t exceptionally fast, but he certainly is intimidating, and you can see that he thinks on the ice, not just reacts.
I say that because it’s a sharp contrast to Sean Bergenheim who, just like my original favorite Jason Blake, plays with wild abandon and excessive energy.
He is a joy to watch but it will take Sean’s hands a little while to catch up to his feet, the same way it did with Blake.
I’ll be sure to be there to see it when they do.
After the 1-0 Islander win over Tampa, the press conference had that same giddy feeling as it has the last few days now that it is SIX wins and definitely classified as a “streak.”
When they win, the room is more crowded than usual. Greg Logan, our exceptionally hard working Newsday beat writer, came in chuckling and shaking his head.
I knew the feeling.
“Who ARE these guys?”
I waited toward the back of the media gaggle so that I could see Nolan walk through the door.
As soon as he did, he flashed that smile that I so enjoy seeing. That “winning” smile of his, and then he quickly recovered his composure and took his place at the podium.
It was then, when the reporters asked him about Simon’s first shift that I was surprised to hear there was a negative reaction from the fans.
“What?” I looked over at my fellow Blog Boxer Tom Liodice; he nodded to me indicating that there were some negative reactions.
Ted’s take was that if the fans pay their hard earned money, they are entitled to their opinions, but that Simon is a professional and he’ll deal with it.
What he didn’t say was that you’re only as good as your last shift, and the fans have a very short attention span. The minute Simon does something positive for the team; he will be a hero again.
In the locker room, Simon was the last one to speak with the press.
Unfortunately, this morning is the first time that ITV’s post-game coverage has a problem!
The morning that I NEED it, I can’t get the video.
I won’t be able to quote Simon, but I will be able to tell you that I watched his eyes and his reaction to the pointed and often painful questions.
There is no smoldering fire in his eyes, no hatred, and no evil within.
He spoke softly, he nodded in agreement, and he looked the inquisition in the eye while responding thoughtfully.
He is there to work toward the betterment of the team. He knows his role, what he needs to do, and what is expected of him.
He is grateful, sincerely grateful, for his teammate’s reaction to his return, and does not begrudge the fans their reactions.
The callers on Thursday’s NHL Live’s XM radio show sounded off about his return.
Some irate fans called for a boycott of the Islanders for putting him back in the line-up.
There were angry posts on our message boards when it was revealed that Tambellini would be the sacrificial lamb to offer Chris a bench seat.
But I personally, would like to implore the fans to at least give Simon a fair chance. Give Ted the credit he is due for making the decisions he feels are necessary.
In other words…PLEASE…ISLANDER FAITHFUL: BE PATIENT! BE FORGIVING.
And most importantly, non-judgmental.
For who of us is without sin?
Let him cast the first puck.