Kukla's Korner Hockey
by William Morrison on 08/10/11 at 11:01 AM ET
Over the last few days, the national and local media have been focusing solely on the initial plan to borrow $400 million for a brand new New York Islanders arena. I am going to focus on something else-the future of the hockey team. “Remember, this is not an ending, this is a beginning,” Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said after the referendum was voted down.
Owner Charles Wang and GM Garth Snow may be disappointed, but they have reason for optimism. The fans also have reason to look at the glass half full. For the sake and sanity of Isles fans, hopefully the team will have a solid year and allow the fans to focus solely on hockey.
The Islanders are coming off a 30 win, 73 point season where they suffered devastating injuries to some of their core players. They recently re-signed their most important restricted free agents-Kyle Okposo and Blake Comeau. Coming off a season in which Comeau set career highs in goals (24), assists (22) and points (46), it is only expected that he increases those numbers this season. Michael Grabner is on the verge of becoming a star. Grabner, fresh off a rookie season when he scored 34 goals, is poised to become a 40 goal scorer. Matt Moulson, coming off a 2010-2011 season when he played all 82 games, will be even more improved after notching 53 points. After suffering a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff last season, stalwart defensemen Mark Streit will be 100% healthy. And, who knows, will Evgeni Nabokov re-emerge as a star?
The Isles also recently acquired Brian Rolston, who should provide some veteran stability in the lineup. After adding Rolston’s $5 million salary, the Islanders remain $1.3 million short of the salary cap floor, so they should be able to add another valuable addition.
Don’t get me wrong, the Islanders are in a tough Atlantic Division. The New York Rangers made quite a splash this offseason and should be much improved. The Penguins will get Sid the Kid and Malkin back from injury. The Devils hired Peter DeBoer to replace Jacques Lemaire in Newark. And, of course, the Flyers will come back strong after a 106 point regular season and a flurry of offseason transactions. The Islanders might not win the division, but they will be improved, very competitive and will hopefully make the playoffs.
The Islanders have a chance to start out the season on a positive note with four home games against the Panthers, Wild, Lightning, and Rangers.
Islander fans have a lot to be optimistic about, but can they remain solely focused on hockey during the season when their mind may be elsewhere? As owner Charles Wang stated in his letter to fans after the August 1st referendum was voted down, “I am not giving up on Long Island and I hope you won’t either.”
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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