New York Hockey: New York Islanders

Rivalry week in New York

February, 4, 2013
With the first few weeks of the 2013 season already in the books, some key matchups lie ahead for the three local NY/NJ teams.

On Tuesday, the Devils host the Rangers in the first rematch of last year's Eastern Conference finals. The Rangers are still struggling to string together wins -- they have done so only once this season -- and the Devils have dropped four of their last five. Still, the reigning Eastern Conference champs lead the Rangers by three points in the Atlantic Division.

The Rangers face another tough test Thursday against the Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Although the Isles were blanked on Super Bowl Sunday by backup netminder Johan Hedberg and the Devils, they're off to a solid 4-3-1 start, good for third in the Atlantic.

Post-lockout chat wrap

January, 9, 2013
Now that hockey is back, we answer all your burning questions in the first post-lockout live chat of the season.

Read the chat wrap here.

Tavares flirting with 30?

August, 26, 2011
I’ll level with you: I’m pretty excited to see the Islanders get to training camp.

Most of it is professional curiosity. Of all three NY-area teams, it feels like the the Isles have the most pieces in motion that need to get set before the start of the season. The Rangers’ roster seems fairly settled and the Devils’ roster won’t be normalized until Travis Zajac rejoins the team. The Islanders have a lot of parts in motion ... and a lot of those parts still have that shiny newness to them.

Forget the situation surrounding the Nassau Coliseum (non)renovations. Forget that the Isles finished dead last in the Atlantic for the past four seasons. Forget that the rival Rangers inked the best free agent on the market while the Islanders couldn’t convince Christian Ehrhoff to stick around after trading for his negotiating rights. That’s all the past. The future is what the start of the season is all about and the Islanders have a ton of young players that could kindle notions of a playoff run in the next few seasons.

As Insider’s Summer Skate series jumps to the Island, Hockey Prospectus author Timo Seppa provides a projection that John Tavares will make a solid leap forward this season. Moreover, in a separate piece, Insider contributor Neil Greenberg claims that Tavares has a very good shot at

Devs try to drop pounds, pick up points

December, 28, 2010
Well, it’s official. Christmas is just a lousy time of year for guys named John MacLean -- no matter the spelling. After terminating the die-hard head coach, he of the 9-22-2 debut, GM Lou Lamoriello said the rookie bench boss did not deserve all the blame.

That didn’t stop him from dropping the axe two days before Christmas. On a game day.

The change has helped little thus far, but after falling -- hard -- to the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Devils and new head coach Jacques Lemaire now have a little bit more time to get their legs underneath them before taking on the New York Rangers Wednesday. And it looks like the Devs' New Year's resolution will be to drop a few pounds.

Here’s a look around the snow-covered media world of the Devils.

Morning Links

NHL not close to Isles intervention

December, 10, 2010
Don't hold your breath on the NHL stepping in to help halt the downward spiral of the New York Islanders franchise.

In his Friday blog for ESPN Insider, E.J. Hradek sat down Deputy Commish Bill Daly for a little Q&A. During the interview, Hradek asked how the league felt about suggestions that the NHL should intercede in the Islanders affairs, as suggested by NY Post writer Larry Brooks in a Dec. 5 column. Here's Daly's response:
"I don't think this is a situation that even comes close to warranting the league stepping in," Daly said. "You know, Charles Wang bought this franchise more than 10 years ago. He's expended numerous amounts of his own personal resources building the franchise and trying to build a winner on Long Island in very difficult business conditions because of the arena he plays in. He continues through the process of trying to secure a future for that franchise and having a new arena."

Sounds like the league still supports Wang in full, with Daly even pushing the Lighthouse Project angle with his allusion to "difficult business conditions." When Gary Bettman attended the Columbus Day game between the Rangers and Isles, he too seemed to be lobbying the Long Island politicians with his comments to the media. To that end, Daly's comments seem to be status quo from the NHL, despite sagging attendance numbers and a dismal showing in the standings.

I spoke with Hradek a little more about the possibility of NHL intervention about five minutes ago. Drawing on his past discussions with league personnel over the years, and particularly the recent example in Phoenix, he noted that it would essentially take a financial catastrophe for the league to intervene with the Islanders. Players missing paychecks, missed lease payments -- if the Isles bottom out in that way, the NHL could get involved. Right now though, the Islanders are not in a financial fix. They may not be spending big money, and Wang may be giving the impression he doesn't even care about this club, but they're still abiding by the league's rules.

In the Insider interview, Daly goes on to say he feels the Islanders' situation gets exacerbated because of the team's struggles this season and that they're in a different phase of their rebuild project, investing in the draft and waiting for prospects to develop. He closes by saying he believes Wang is "trying to secure the long-term future viability of that franchise on Long island." Sure, but do Islanders fans have to suffer until that happens?

On one hand I agree with Daly. Wang has certainly invested plenty of money in players in the past -- he just happened to invest in the wrong players. But the empty seats, the disrepair of the Coliseum and a salary cap situation in which the Islanders only meet the league minimum because they're still paying those same wrong players -- players who aren't even playing anymore -- certainly paints a poor picture of the franchise. It would be nice for Wang to do a little more for the Isles faithful. In the words of Carl Spackler, "How about a little something, you know, for the effort?"

A Fehrful day in the NHL; Kovy update

August, 27, 2010
FDR famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Well, yesterday’s developments in the NHL may have altered the spelling slightly to F-E-H-R.

The hockey media responded to reports that former MLBPA leader Donald Fehr will soon take over the NHL players association with much trepidation yesterday. The players association has been rudderless since the middle-of-the-night axing of Paul Kelly.

Unlike baseball, whose players association is strong like bull, the NHLPA has been seen as weak and its membership disinterested since the 2004-05 lockout. Fehr’s veteran leadership should change that, which is fueling concerns of another labor stoppage in the NHL after the current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the 2011-12 season.

ESPN’s Scott Burnside writes that the recommendation in favor of Fehr by the search committee, which included Fehr himself, seems a little too convenient.

Devils fans longing to see Ilya Kovalchuk skate in Newark had even more to fear yesterday, as a report from Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov states that if the Devils cannot get a contract approved by the NHL in the next 24-48 hours, Kovalchuk could decide to spend next season in the KHL.

Yuri Nikolaev, Kovalchuk’s agent in Russia, said he had spoken to KHL team SKA St. Petersburg and that a decision will come Friday, according to Sovetsky Sport (via Fire and Ice). It’s been previously reported that SKA St. Petersburg would allow Kovalchuk to name his terms if he came to the KHL. With that kind of offer, Kovalchuk could be kissing his own miniature giraffe by tomorrow night.

Chesnokov allows that it could be bargaining bluster, but to what end? It’s not as though the Russian requires better terms from the Devils. And it’s unlikely that a second suitor from the NHL will jump in at this stage. Particularly since the Los Angeles Kings, Kovalchuk’s other most likely landing spot, just inked D Willie Mitchell for $7 million over two years. The words may be intended to pressure the NHL into softening their stance on Kovy’s contract, but if the NHL is serious about stopping salary cap circumvention, they have little choice but to stand their ground.

Should make for an interesting Friday.

Morning Links

Bettman disputes report; Medvedev lurks

August, 26, 2010
It just wouldn’t be a sunrise without a little new light thrown on the Ilya Kovalchuk free agency marathon. ESPN’s Scott Burnside writes that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denies the NHL nixed the proposal brought by the New Jersey Devils and Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that the league had spiked the second attempt. The Commish may just be parsing words here, as he states, “In order for a contract to be rejected, there would have to be a signed contract submitted," Bettman said. "There has not been a signed contract submitted."

It’s been previously reported that no contract was actually submitted at the much-discussed Monday meeting between the Devils, Grossman and the league, but rather a conceptual framework. Burnside notes that Bettman did not dispute that there has been ongoing discussion between the parties on what the league would allow under the salary cap.

Meanwhile, KHL top boss Alexander Medvedev, on hand in Toronto for the World Hockey Summit, made it clear that his offer to Kovalchuk was still on the table and said he’d received a call from the winger’s agent yesterday.

As reported by Pavel Lysenko of Sovietsky Sport, and posted on the New York Post’s hockey blog, the NHL will only agree to a contract term of 13 years or less. The last framework on Monday was reportedly for 15 years.

Morning Links

Rangers, Isles and Devils TV schedule

August, 25, 2010
The NHL released its national TV schedule today, which includes 11 games on Versus for the New York Rangers. That number matches Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington for the most appearances in the league. Meanwhile the Islanders have but two dates on Versus, but that's two more than the Panthers, Oilers and Senators combined. That group combined for exactly zero games on the home of the Tour de France. Neither the Oilers nor the Senators are currently in consideration for an NBC telecast either.

The Peacock may pick up as many as five Rangers games (all against the Flyers or Penguins), while the Devils have three contests in consideration. The Islanders' Jan. 23 game with the Sabres is on the board as well. The schedule for each team on Versus (and the potential NBC games) are below.

New York Rangers (All times ET)
  • Oct. 18, Colorado, 7 p.m., Versus
  • Nov. 9, Washington, 7:30 p.m., Versus
  • Nov. 17, Boston, 7 p.m., Versus
  • Dec. 15, @Pittsburgh, 7 p.m., Versus
  • Jan. 24, @Washington, 7 p.m., Versus
  • Feb. 1, Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m., Versus
  • Feb. 7, Detroit, 7:30 p.m., Versus
  • Feb. 13, Pittsburgh, TBD, NBC
  • Feb. 20, Philadelphia, TBD, NBC
  • March 1, Buffalo, 7 p.m., Versus
  • March 6, Philadelphia, TBD, NBC
  • March 20, @Pittsburgh, 12:30 p.m., NBC
  • March 30, @Buffalo, 7 p.m., Versus
  • April 3, @Philadelphia, 3 p.m., Versus
  • April 4, Boston, 7:30 p.m., Versus
  • April 17, Atlanta, 7 p.m., Versus
New York Islanders
  • Oct. 13, @Washington, 7 p.m., Versus
  • Jan. 23, Buffalo, 3 p.m., NBC
  • Feb. 2, @Pittsburgh, 7 p.m., Versus
New Jersey Devils
  • Dec. 21, @Washington, 7:30 p.m., Versus
  • Jan. 4, Minnesota, 7 p.m., Versus
  • Jan. 23, Florida, 3 p.m., NBC
  • Jan. 26, @Detroit, 7 p.m., Versus
  • Feb. 22, @Dallas, 8:30 p.m., Versus
  • March 20, @Columbus, 5 p.m., NBC
  • April 5, @Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m., Versus
  • April 10, Boston, 3 p.m., NBC
Langenbrunner talks Kovalchuk

Puck Daddy contributor Nicholas J. Cotsonika spoke to Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner today about Ilya Kovalchuk. Langenbrunner, currently in Toronto for the World Hockey Summit, says he believes Kovalchuk "wants to be a part of our team."

Earlier today, Greg Wyshynski posted that the revised contract framework the Devils and Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, discussed with the NHL placed the deal's interminable term at 15 years instead of the original 17. That would take Kovalchuk to age 42, instead of 44. That's not good enough for the NHL, who is perhaps afraid a tennis ball-tipped walker could prove unwieldy on the ice.

Kovalchuk drama drags on

August, 25, 2010
The reported 24-hour window in which many were expecting to see Ilya Kovalchuk sign a contract has come and gone with no progress towards keeping the star winger in New Jersey. The reason? The NHL is still not satisfied with the Devils' second proposed deal.

The New York Post is reporting that the New Jersey Devils’ re-worked contract with Kovalchuk did not pass muster after a meeting with NHL officials Monday to discuss the proposal conceptually. The Post also incorporates some not-so-subtle undertones that the NHL may be forcing Kovalchuk to the KHL by continuing to oppose the contract.

Mike Mazzeo of the Newark Star-Ledger writes that the Devils would not confirm anything on the Kovalchuk contract at an Atlantic City press conference yesterday. They did announce that the team’s AHL affiliate in Albany will play four games at Boardwalk Hall, which is clearly the next best thing to Kovalchuk news.

“Until something’s done, it’s not done,” GM Lou Lamoriello said of the Kovalchuk contract. In a related story, the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. Stay tuned for updates.

Morning Links

More on Devils' NHL meeting

August, 24, 2010
The local press has a little more on the Ilya Kovalchuk development from yesterday. Mark Everson of the New York Post points out that the window may be closing for NHL teams to reach a deal with the Russian LW, as the KHL starts up play Sept. 8. Kovalchuk has shown little interest in that league to date, however. Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov reported on what Kovalchuk might receive from a KHL club earlier this month.

The Post story also credits a source as saying the Devils are working to move D Bryce Salvador, perhaps to the Dallas Stars, to free up his $2.9 million in cap space.

Tom Gulitti of The Record adds a quote from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirming that no new contract was submitted at yesterday’s meeting.

With the flurry of activity yesterday, most seem to expect a new contract to be submitted today, though there has been nothing concrete reported. While you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for breaking news, scoot a little closer and check out today’s links.

Morning Links
  • Beyond the Blueshirts has a translated interview with Alexander Frolov from Russian site, explaining why he picked the Rangers over the KHL. He says the Rangers are a respected franchise and blah, blah, blah … Look, it’s a great interview, but when it comes to the KHL, forget the money. Forget the rep of NHL teams. There are other factors at play.
    In the NHL your worst road trip is the long flight to Vancouver. In the KHL it’s to Khanty-Mansiysk, located in the heart of that thriving tourist Mecca known as Siberia. One of Khanty-Mansiysk’s most notable enterprises? Its “large beast farm.” Rick Steves is all over that one.
    Check out the town on this map. Oh, and be sure to scroll out to see how, uh, close it is to other Russian cities. I-95 looks pretty appealing now, eh Alex? Who wants Roy Rogers?
  • Former Providence College standout Mark Fayne inked a deal with the Albany Devils. Fayne, a defenseman, was drafted by New Jersey in the fifth round in 2005.
  • The Islanders’ Behind the Number series hits you with some knowledge on No. 23, which belonged to Bob Nystrom.
  • Blueshirt Banter goes waaaaay inside the shootout with some serious Rangers-related stats.
  • Newsday’s Steve Zipay tweets the Rangers will unveil their third jerseys in November. SNY Rangers Blog’s Adam Rotter says they’ll likely be throwbacks to honor the team’s 85th anniversary.
  • Lighthouse Hockey compares the Islanders’ forwards current salaries with those on the 2008-09 squad. It’s a stark contrast.
  • Chris Botta writes on NYI Point Blank that Butch Goring will succeed Billy Jaffe on MSG’s Islanders broadcasts.
  • The World Hockey Summit began Monday, bringing some of the sport’s most influential figures to Toronto. ESPN’s Scott Burnside has more.
  • While the NHL spent part of last week sampling new rules for future implementation, at least one change will take effect for next season. As E.J. Hradek reported, the NHL will now use overtime and regulation wins as the first regular-season tiebreaker, excluding shootout victories. That change wouldn’t have had much impact last season, but it would have flipped Florida and Montreal for the final Eastern playoff spot in 2008-09, with the Habs owing seven of their 41 wins to the shootout.

Summer Skating

August, 23, 2010
With training camp coming right around the corner, talk has started to turn to some of the NHL’s young players on the cusp of cracking the big league roster.

A pair of summer series took a look at the New York area franchises late last week. ESPN Insiders can check out some player projections from Puck Prospectus and get a glimpse of the future, as E.J. Hradek lists key prospects to watch for in camp. Here’s a taste:

New York Islanders: Nino Niederreiter

The lefty-shooting right wing doesn't turn 18 until Sept. 8. In fact, he was among the youngest players in his draft class. While he'd probably be better served by another season of junior hockey, I won't be surprised in the least if he's wearing blue and orange on opening night.

New Jersey Devils: Alexander Urbom

Eyeballing him during the Devils prospect camp last month, he reminded me of a young Vladimir Malakhov. I'm not saying he's that good; rather, I just felt he has same lanky build. He seemed to have good feet for a bigger player and he looked comfortable and confident during the prospect scrimmages. Of course, it's hard to say what it really means to look good (or bad) in a summer prospect game.

New York Rangers: Mats Zuccarello Aasen

The undrafted 22-year-old (he turns 23 on Sept. 1) opened some NHL eyes with his play for Modo in the Swedish Elite League as well as his Olympic performance for an overmatched Team Norway. In fact, Zuccarello Aasen led the Swedish league with 64 points in 55 games. (Before you get too crazy about that, keep in mind former Ranger Jan Hlavac was the league's fifth-leading scorer as well as its top goal producer.)

There’s plenty more on each prospect and each team, including projections of players on the rise and others whose production is expected to slip back.

Not an Insider?’s 30 in 30 series (Huh, that sounds familiar … ) explores who’s new, who’s nixed and what’s next for the Devils, Islanders and Rangers.

While the only cup talk on Long Island this summer was followed by the suffix of “cake,” the headline of that Isles’ piece taps the team as playoff contenders.

Don’t scoff. The Isles stayed in contention until late January last season, then fell off following a seven-game losing streak and an epic swoon from John Tavares (9 points in 37 games from Dec. 14 to March 14). If the young center can maintain the point-per-game rate he posted in his other 45 games and the team gets consistent goaltending, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t be able to sneak into the top eight teams in the East.

And while Tavares may not have the same supporting cast, another recent No. 1 overall pick shows such an improvement in Year 2 isn’t impossible.

Morning Links
  • The Winnipeg Free Press tells the tale of the Toews brothers, who want to renew their rivalry on the ice. David Toews, the Johnny Drama to Jonathan's Vinny Chase, was a third-round pick for the Islanders in the 2008 entry draft. The article tells about how he once beat his big bro at hockey in the backyard. Before Isles fans get too carried away with his talent, we should probably re-emphasize "once." But that Jonathan Toews kid is pretty sharp, what with his gold medal and Stanley Cup and all.
  • The Sporting News' Craig Custance hosted a round table discussion with NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes (a vet of the Devils, Rangers and Islanders), Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich and new Devils head coach John MacLean. Not that one. This one. The trio discussed this year's most-improved and potential surprise teams (Laich taps the Isles), as well as what it was like to take down Hans Gruber*. (* may not have actually been discussed ... but should have)
  • The Burlington Times News reports on a North Carolina politician who was supposed to actually wrestle an opponent on Saturday (scroll down). Why do you care? Because if the politician got pinned, he'd have to wear a Devils jersey and condemn the Carolina Hurricanes. North Carolina voters getting a dose of the hard hitting issues, indeed. You can see the results here.
  • NESN takes a look at the Devils today, noting that while the Devils could still be dangerous, they need Ilya Kovalchuk for the playoffs. We'll explore the money issues surrounding Kovalchuk on this blog later today.
The NHL released its schedule for the 2010-11 season on Tuesday. Here are important dates for the Rangers, Devils and Islanders:

New York Rangers
Season opener: Rangers at Buffalo, Saturday, Oct. 9
Home opener: Toronto at Rangers, Friday, Oct. 15

New Jersey Devils
Season/home opener: Dallas at New Jersey, Friday, Oct. 8

New York Islanders
Season/home opener: Dallas at N.Y. Islanders, Saturday, Oct. 9

Rangers vs. Islanders
• Rangers at Islanders, Monday, Oct. 11
• Rangers at Islanders, Thursday, Dec. 2
• Islanders at Rangers, Friday, Dec. 3
• Islanders at Rangers, Monday, Dec. 27
• Islanders at Rangers, Tuesday, March 15
• Rangers at Islanders, Thursday, March 31

Rangers vs. Devils
• Devils at Rangers, Sunday, Oct. 24
• Rangers at Devils, Friday, Nov. 5
• Rangers at Devils, Wednesday, Dec. 29
• Devils at Rangers, Thursday, Feb. 3
• Rangers at Devils, Friday, Feb. 18
• Devils at Rangers, Saturday, April 9

Devils vs. Islanders
• Devils at Islanders, Friday, Nov. 26
• Islanders at Devils, Thursday, Dec. 23
• Devils at Islanders, Monday, Jan. 17
• Devils at Islanders, Sunday, March 6
• Islanders at Devils, Saturday, March 12
• Islanders at Devils, Wednesday, March 30

All-Star Game
• Sunday, Jan. 30, in Raleigh, N.C.