New York Islanders: The Sun Is Shining Bright on Long Island
The 2010-2011 season was completed Saturday night, April 9, 2011, in Philadelphia. It was another loss to the Flyers, but nonetheless, the sun is shining brightly on the future of the New York Islanders.
It would have been nice to make the playoffs, but it will give the franchise another piece to the puzzle of very talented and very young players, lead by Coach Jack Capuano.
General Manager Garth Snow must be given credit for assembling this group of young players, which includes up-and-coming superstars John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, Blake Comeau, Matt Martin, PA Parenteau, Franz Neilson and future captain Kyle Okposo leading the offense.
The defense, also very young, was lead by Andrew MacDonald, Travis Hamonic, Mark Katic, Jack Hillen, Bruno Gervais and Ty Wishart.
The franchise now has respect throughout the National Hockey League. This is a team that comes to compete every night and plays hard.
There is a system in place that Coach Capuano brought with him from coaching the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The players were familiar with the system even though the transition was a tad rocky when Coach Capuano was promoted.
When things began to click, the Islanders were the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference from December 16 on.
Another position to examine is goaltending. The New York Islanders had six—that's right, six—goalies during the course of the 2010-2011 season. The two left standing were Rick DiPietro and Al "Big Cubano" Montoya.
If Ricky can stay healthy, this tandem will do very well in getting the Islanders back into the playoffs. However, if there is an injury to either goalies, Kevin Poulin proved his worth, even though it was a small sample.
It is worth remembering that the Islanders lost over 600 man-games this year.
The triage list included Mark Streit, who was lost for the season, Mike Mottau, Milan Jurcina (on and off the injured list all season), Gervais (also on and off the injured list), Mark Eaton (lost for most of the season) and Okposo, who returned in January.
At some point, almost every player missed time with assorted injuries. This must be addressed in the offseason in order to prevent a repeat for the 2011-2012 season.
The one plus to the amount of man games lost was it offered opportunity for many players to gain National Hockey League experience, i.e. Michael Haley, Hamonic, Katic, Grabner, Hillen and Dylan Reese.
The General Manager must re-sign Zenon Konopka. The season totals do not indicate how important he is to this team. Konopka is a leader in the locker room, takes faceoffs and is the spokesman for the franchise. It is imperative that Snow makes this happen.
In the aforementioned vein, Coach Capuano must be signed to a contract. He did a great job righting the ship after the Gordon disaster. The coach put a system in place, let the players be themselves and is the right guy for this job. Snow needs to stay away from the "name" coaches.
One last suggestion for Snow, it would merit consideration to trade the draft pick, which will be no higher than fourth, package it with a young player and secure the services of a name player.
I am not taking about someone who is on their last blade, but a star player who is smart enough to see what is happening on Long Island and wants to be a part of something special. Then, watch out!
This summer should be fun and all should get healthy and the anticipation of next season. Let the ride begin.
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