I wanted to do this as a live blog, but that just wasn't possible. So, in the spirit of NBC's Olympics coverage, we'll call this a plausibly live blog. As such, the timestamps are only approximations. Yes, you can listen to these interviews yourself on wfan.com. But this way, maybe you can skim here while watching the game instead of trying to listen to two things at once.
1:25: Mad Dog's first utterance of "DiPieto" comes as he announces that DiPietro will sit again tonight. You'd think that with two Rs in his own name, Chris could take the time to slow down and learn to throw one in there for Rick. But let the debate begin...Is Ted Nolan simply going with the hot hand, giving Rick more time to get himself back together, or just looking to motivate the franchise goalie with a little competition?
1:46: Mad Dog just referred to Washington's star player first as "that kid," and then as "Ovchenkin." It was not my intention to make this all about mispronunciations, but that's all we've got so far.
1:58: Talking about the NBA. I guess it was a little far-fetched to think this was going to be five hours and twenty minutes of Islanders programming on WFAN.
2:01: Garth Snow coming up next.
2:06: Mad Dog goes right to "Dubie" rather than attempt Dubielewicz.
2:08: Mike presses Garth for the real message behind playing Dubie. Garth says DiPietro is ready to go and actually expresses a little surprise that Ted decided to go back to Dubie. One can infer that Garth would not have made the same decision.
2:12: Mad Dog unleashes his first "Lavalette." We're getting all of his greatest hits. Come on, Chris. Say it with me: Lav-i-o-lette.
2:13: Garth is really talking up the youth, including those currently on the roster and those still in junior. Names the five draft picks who competed in the WJC.
2:15: Garth has full authority to pull the trigger on trades (e.g., Ryan Smyth) but relies on feedback from Nolan and Morrow, particularly so he doesn't acquire players that Nolan doesn't like.
2:16: Garth still believes that the Islanders control their own destiny. If they go 14-0 the rest of the way, that will be true.
2:19: Garth endorses trimming down the size of goalie pads. Bloggers everywhere mock him mercilessly.
2:21: Garth says that the Islanders are not at a $44 million payroll by design and would pay to the cap for the right players.
A decent spot with Snow, with the most revealing answer being about tonight's starting goalie. If the decision doesn't harm the relationship between coach and goalie, it could go a long way toward making DiPietro understand that Ted runs the room. Playing 78+ games may be fashionable for the top goalies of the day, but it wasn't always that way and doesn't have to be now. It was nice to hear Mike and Chris break down the interview and related issues in the next segment rather than going back to Brett Favre or something. Interviews with Wang, Nolan, and DiPietro were promised for later. Unfortunately, the hosts just don't have the depth of knowledge to ask the kinds of questions they might ask to Willie Randolph or Tom Coughlin.
2:51: Pierre McGuire in the house. Or on the phone, anyway. Wasn't expecting that. Says that Madison Square Garden is hopping right now (i.e., these days, not right this minute). Pierre is bringing a little league-wide perspective to the show. I'm okay with that.
2:58: Pierre has no problem tweaking Mike and Chris about their lack of hockey knowledge: "Tom who? you're probably saying," when bringing up Tom Preissing.
3:01: Chris gives Pierre 10 seconds to comment on the Islanders. Pierre is very complimentary to Ted, Garth, and Billy Guerin for keeping the ship afloat and still being in the playoff hunt. Says that Nolan should be coach of the year if the Isles make it.
3:07: Charles Wang steps to the mic. "Until we win the Stanley Cup, we always can be better." Mr. Wang does not appear to believe in the concept of rebuilding. Paraphrasing: If you don't go into every season expecting to win the Cup, you are a loser. The team's goal is to get a career year out all of its players every year.
3:13: Renovations to the lower bowl of the Coliseum would commence in July 2009 and extend briefly into the season with the team starting the schedule on the road. Upper bowl would be renovated similarly the following the year. July '09 is the earliest they could put a shovel in the ground.
3:16: Transportation, water issues, environmental issues, and other unknowns are the biggest obstacles to the Lighthouse project.
3:17: What happens with the SMG lease, which runs to 2015, has yet to be settled. Buying it out is an option.
3:22: Mr. Wang believes that the Lighthouse has to be iconic, akin to the Arch in St. Louis and other great landmarks.
3:26: If the Lighthouse project does not get approved, there probably won't be a Coliseum renovation. Charles was reluctant to address what happens in that scenario.
3:29: "We built a great team. We have good guys." Charles bristled slightly at the notion that he should just spend the extra $6 million left under the cap, but said that Garth has the financial flexibility to continue building the team. I do sometimes chuckle when radio hosts talk about $6 million as though it's nothing just because the owner is rich.
It's nearly impossible to think of this as a great team. I suppose if everyone actually did have a career year, it would have been great. But that's an awfully lofty expectation to have going into a season.
3:36: In the next segment, Russo speculates that the Lighthouse project is too ambitious and will need to be scaled back. Mike states that figuring out a way to bring in mass transit is the key to everything and a railroad hub could have prevented the Nets from leaving. Then there was some sort of fight about engineering and voices leaking over the airwaves. Mike got angry. Chris sounded embarrassed.
4:08: Wade Dubielewicz on the air! Apparently, he's a big fan of the show. Chris is impressed that he's appearing on a night that he's playing.
4:09: Doesn't feel a lot of pressure. Sees this as an opportunity and is a little surprised to be in the net tonight.
4:11: Dubie is satisfied with his role right now, but not content. He's satisfied in the sense that last year he was a career minor leaguer and he's now moved up to career NHL backup.
4:13: Mike: This is a great show of respect for Dubie by Nolan. Dubie: I have a big smile on my face today. Wade also indicates that Rick isn't the type to come in and raise a ruckus because he's not playing. That would have a negative impact on the team, but it's not going to happen.
4:14: Dubie: Ted is the greatest player's coach he's ever played for. He allows everyone to prepare in their own way, so it's always on the player.
You gotta love Dubie. Maybe if he's a starter in this league one day no one will be able to go near him on gameday, but I doubt it. You could tell that he was a little jazzed about being on the show, even if it was a short spot.
4:21: "Botta does a great job. He's a good PR guy." Mike and Chris just compared Jason Blake to Jeff Weaver--both guys who found a home somewhere and should have stayed where they were successful. Now that Mike learns the terms Blake got in Toronto, he can't blame him for leaving. Chris says the Isles did a good job not signing him to those terms.
4:25: Rick DiPietro on the air. He was listening to the show earlier. He's disappointed at not playing in a game of this magnitude that's a must-win, but "You've gotta be a team guy," and Dubie played really well.
4:27: "The coach makes a decision and I'm going to support that."
4:28: Russo: "We all know how great a goaltender you're going to be." Rick says he'll continue to get better and he'll reach his maximum potential when they win a Cup.
4:30: Watching Mike Richter play his entire career with one team influenced his decision to sign a 15-year contract. He also just likes living on Long Island.
4:32: Sitting at home with a concussion watching the team play last year was even harder than sitting on the bench watching.
4:35: Having the long term deal gives him the ability to focus solely on becoming a better hockey player.
4:38: Baseball was a passion of Rick's growing up. Francesa is now on the Dustin Pedroia bandwagon after killing him last year.
Nothing too exciting from that segment. DiPietro sounded every bit the good soldier.
4:49: Bill Guerin's turn. Starts off with questions about his days with the Devils.
4:51: Being the little brother to the Rangers is about the same as an Islander as it was with the Devils.
4:53: Bill was impressed by how much the Core of the Four members seemed like a family.
4:54: Perspective on having played with so many teams is that he's fortunate to have had a long career in the league.
4:55: Guerin not really surprised that Dubie is playing tonight. Coaches tend to go with the hot hand and Ricky will be fine with it.
4:56: Decision to sign with the Isles was influenced by the team's immediate effort to commit to him. Other teams expressed interest but didn't give him anything concrete.
4:57: Doesn't really have an answer for all the shorthanded goals.
4:58: Really likes the direction the team is going. Good young players mixed with a core of veterans. "Teddy is a great coach...has his finger on what guys need."
4:59: Botta has seen Springsteen 40 times. That easily beats my record for most times seeing a band. Guerin has seen him 7 or 8 times.
5:05: And, finally, Ted Nolan. Chris says that the Islanders do a wonderful job every time the show is out there. Coaching staff began discussing goaltending situation right after last game. "What's best for the team? What's best for the player?" Combination of Ricky maybe being rusty and Dubie playing well led to their decision.
5:07: Ted: How players handle situations like this separates the good athletes from the great athletes.
5:08: DiPietro is very likely to play Saturday against Philly. Going with Dubie is not trying to stretch his luck--it's not a case of luck. Dubie is a "pure, old-time hockey player."
5:10: "We're not blessed with a whole bunch of dipsy-doodlers playmaking types of guys...We have to play basic hockey." They're a good team when they keep it close, have a good chance of winning close hockey games.
5:11: "The offense is almost like the weather. Some days it's there, some days it's not."
5:11: It takes a great mindset to succeed when the team doesn't have a player that can steal two points with a timely goal.
5:12: Ted thinks that the mindset of his team (having to grind out wins over the long haul) should be successful in the grind of the playoffs, but you have to get there first. Mentioned Park and Hilbert as being important players that we don't talk about all the time. He sometimes tries to fly the wings or rush the defense to create more offense. Half-jokes that he'd love to try it the other way with a bunch of stars on the roster.
5:13: Doesn't think Simon was a distraction. Prevented certain teams from pushing the Isles around and taking advantage of them. Thinks they need a player like Simon.
5:15: "The game's in great hands right now because we got some tremendous athletes and tremendous people in this game."
5:16: Growing pains are tough to go through while the young players are developing. Nolan is enthusiastic about all the young players.
5:17: "We're blessed to play this sport." Says he's more of a motivating type of coach, but you have to know what you're doing.
5:18: Charles and Garth leave him alone and let him coach.
That's about it. Mad Dog's overall take on the Islanders is that they are standing still. Every March we find them struggling to make the playoffs, and then they bow out in the first round. Not groundbreaking analysis, but not inaccurate either. The show did a really nice job for Islanders fans, giving the organization plenty of airtime, if not keen perspective or expert questioning. Now, if they would just focus on the Islanders regularly for a little bit of time instead of for four hours once a year, we'd really have something to get excited about.