Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stand Up and Take a Bow

It's the first day of 2008, and I feel like handing out some accolades...

To the Islander players, for finishing 2007 with a strong 5 wins in 6 games, including a convincing one-off road-trip victory in Carolina on New Year's Eve. The only team out of reach at the moment is Ottawa. It's going to be a wild second half.

To Ted Nolan, for instilling in his team
the belief that a squad without a top-tier offensive player can reach the top tier of the league.

To Richard Park, for running away with the opportunity to break free of labels and stereotypes that limited the roles he had been given throughout his NHL career. Maybe he won't finish the year on a scoring line, but he continues to prove that he can be one of those guys.

To Wade Dubielewicz, for answering the call and those who doubted his ability to do so (myself included).

To Rick DiPietro, for transforming himself into a leader with presence, deserving of high praise.

To Jeff Tambellini, for being named AHL Player of the Week and making it difficult for people to forget about him.

To John Hynes, Kyle Okposo, Rhett Rakhshani, Tyler Rueggsegger, James vanRiemsdyk, and the rest of the U.S. National Junior Team, for advancing impressively through the preliminary round of the WJC and earning a bye into the semis. Isles prospects Okposo and Rakhshani have been overshadowed on the scoring leaderboard by vanRiemsdyk, Colin Wilson, and Jordan Schroeder (not to mention Isles propsect Robin Figren playing for Sweden) but their line has been recognized numerous times for dominating play and they made significant scoring contributions to Team USA's 4-0 start.

To Brendan Witt, for being the kind of warrior that every good team needs.

To Freddy Meyer and Blake Comeau, for making Aaron Johnson's return to the active roster a very interesting story.

To Bill Guerin, for filling the role of captain admirably, and for demonstrating that there's plenty of life left in him.

To my colleagues in the Blog Box (and some outside of it), for their outstanding work, which provides us all with an unprecedented richness of Islanders coverage, and for their
spirit of generosity.

This was not meant to be a recap of the 2007 portion of the season. These were simply some people who stood out in my mind recently.

And here's a fun one...The other day I was checking in on Team USA's performance at the WJC via the live updates at onlajny.cz (thanks to Slap Shot). At the top of the page, I noticed the in-progress score of a game in which Skalica was trouncing Trencin 7-0. Remembering that Skalica was Ziggy Palffy's hometown, I clicked on the scoreboard link. Sure enough, there was Ziggy all over the scoresheet with a goal and 3 assists. That one brought a smile to my face.

Ziggy was the first player I can remember being proud of. I remember watching him quickly go from being a young, struggling talent to an NHL-caliber sniper and feeling proud because he became exactly what the Islanders hoped he would be. It's too bad that his 3 consecutive forty-goal seasons didn't coincide with better results for the team. Sadder still, that his time on the Island was cut short by frugal ownership.

Please note that the playoff confidence poll is still open. If you haven't voted yet, please feel free to voice your opinion. Vote "10" if you think the Isles are a lock for the playoffs, "0" if you think they have no shot, or any other degree of confidence in between.

1 comment:

7th Woman said...

It's been a heck of a season so far, that's for sure! Here's to a healthy and "winning" 2008!