The Islanders playoff run may be over, but that definitely doesn’t mean that there has been a shortage of news and stories to come out of Long Island over the last two weeks. So with that, let’s get to this week’s Potvin’d.
- Islanders coach JackCapuano seemed to make it clear that heading into Game 7 in Washington, he was putting a premium on experience. When asked aboutthe absence of Anders Lee from the lineup,Capuano provided multiple answers, some more confusing than others. But in general, he implied that those who had gone through previous playoff battles were more suite for pressure that comes with a Game 7.A loss like the one the Islanders experienced in Washington prompts plenty of second guessing from a fanbase, but I think in all the immediate uproar that occurred after the Isles were booted from Cup contention, the Anders Lee question was a legitimate critique. There is not much debate as to how well Lee had performed in the playoffs; it was not good. Yet one would think that for a young players, at some point, they are going to need to learn to overcome a slump and step up their level of play. Lee was the second leading scorer for the Isles this year, and was deprived of an opportunity to see just what a Game 7-type situation is like. It may provide the proper motivation for next year, but I question if it was worth it.
- While the fact the Islanders aren’t still playing hockey is depressing to any fan of the team, there were some positives that came out of the season-ending interviews/reflections. For one, JohnTavres and KyleOkposo provided some insight into the mindset of the team during this playoff run, and for a young team, I think it speaks to a bright future ahead. Both made mention that in the locker room, this roster really felt that they could win the Stanley Cup; not in 2017, not in 2016, but this year.Now granted, professional athletes tend to believe in themselves 100% until facts prove otherwise, but one doesn’t get a sense that’s what we were hearing from the Islanders captain and his teammates. All season long, even during the stretches when New York was playing at the top of their game, the players to a man seemed to downplay their achievements. Everything was about sustaining win streaks, playing the long game, etc. This team has high expectations for themselves, and with this recent loss, I have to think it’s going to lead to an Islanders squad that is even more focused.
- As the pictures of the ice being removed from the Nassau Coliseum for thefinal time tricked in yesterday, there was plenty of talk about the move to Brooklyn. I touched on a few thoughts on the move in my column on the Coliseum, but wanted to dive a little deeper into what I foresee happening in theBarclays Center.There has been a great deal of discussion over the 5 year “opt-out” clause that exists in the contract between the Barclays Center and the Islanders. From what has been reported, if both parties would agree to the idea, the Islanders could indeed leave Brooklyn. The idea has gained traction amongst Nassau County politicians, who continue to demonstrate a tenuous grip on reality.
Here’s what is going to happen in Brooklyn: the Islanders are going to make money, and lots of it. A modern facility, a young and exciting team, and oh yes an arena located in one of the biggest cities in the world, are all going to give the Islanders a respect and financial security they have not seen in decades, possible ever. There will definitely be a drop off in terms of Long Island-based fans just due to the travel aspect, but the potential to pick up new fans is huge.
The Brooklyn Nets of the NBA had outstanding attendance for this few first year in the Barclays Center, and have only recently seen a drop off, with the quality of the roster as the primary factor. So in essence, a bet on Brooklyn is a bet on the Islanders continuing to grow and develop as a team. If that doesn’t happen, then as the old saying goes, all bets are off.
- Since the next major NHL event the Islanders will be able to take part in is the draft, it is worth remembering that Garth Snowmade a statementearly on in the 2014-15 season that showed what direction he thought the teamwas headed in; the ThomasVanek trade. While Snow may have overestimated the impactVanek would have in the immediate future, let us not forget that the Islanders also had to make a choice with their first round draft pick last year. Either the Islanders could send the 2014 pick to Buffalo, or they could defer and send Buffalo their first round pick for this year’s draft.2015 in hindsight turned out to be the year of the tank, as teams jockeyed to be afforded the privilege of drafting Connor McDavid. At the time of the Vanek trade, some in the media questioned the Islanders decision to defer their pick to 2015, considering the crop of talent that was going to be available. Of course, as this season demonstrated, Snow made the right call with regards to the deferral. Granted, the Isles GM needed to radically improve the roster over last summer in order to look as smart as he did, but the point remains that Snow did make a bet on the Islanders future, and it paid off.
- To close out this edition of Potvin’d, we have to briefly talk about Garth Snow’s decision to retain head coach Jack Capuano and his staff. If there was any aspect of the end of the Islanders’ season that caused the most debate, it was over Capuano’s future with the team. This is also a topic that I’ll be covering soon here on the NYSportshub, but the 2015-16 season will be Capuano’s greatest test as a leader. The team that has been built for him is the best squad in decades, proven by a 100+ point season this past year, and the exciting crop of young talent that is set in stone for the next few years. If the Islanders repeat their performance from this year, it will be very hard to see a scenario in which Capuano returns.