Friday, July 31, 2009

Why SNY May Not Be an Option for Point Blank

As Islanders fans everywhere mourn the potential loss of Islanders Point Blank, they have offered no shortage of fix-it schemes to keep alive the best source of insider news, analysis, and storytelling the Islanders community has ever had.

One of the most popular suggestions is that Point Blank operator Chris Botta contact SNY about moving the blog to SNY.TV's blog network, which has Matt Cerrone's wildly successful MetsBlog as its flagship.

Last September, I wrote the following:

"If Chris Botta's new Islanders Point Blank blog (site not yet active) is as promised, 24/7 coverage (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), then the Islanders community is in for a treat. Botta can do for the Islanders what Matt Cerrone has done for the Mets, but with the credibility and contacts in place from the very start."
Mission accomplished.

Obviously, Point Blank, from the perspective of content, is a perfect fit for SNY, which lacks an Islanders blog. But do we really think that the network is going to offer Chris the kind of compensation that would allow him to continue blogging full time and still take care of his family? Unfortunately, I don't see it—not in this economic climate, not with major partners at SNY having lost $700 million. Someone is going to have to prove how the network could make enough money from Point Blank to consider footing the bill for its resources AND paying the writer an acceptable salary.

Then there's this.

A while back I contacted a significant figure at SNY about them not having an Islanders blog to see what the site's interest would be in adding one (not even mine, necessarily—it would take a good crew of bloggers contributing, assuming they weren't paying much, if at all). Here's what he told me:
"As of now, they only have interest in a Rangers blog, which, frankly, isn't doing very much traffic, so I think hockey is taking a back seat."

Of course, at the time, no one was talking about the Islanders blog being Point Blank, with its impressive traffic, engaged community, and international reputation for excellence.

Anyway, that's what we're up against as far as the SNY option for Point Blank.

Whatever happens, I wish Chris the best of luck and hope we continue to hear from him, whether in a professional capacity or at his pleasure.

If I'm being totally honest, I'll tell you that Point Blank made things difficult for those of us who do this on a part-time basis. It was a challenge to have anything meaningful to say and not feel pushed to the margins in the shadow of the constant and exceptional coverage that Point Blank provided. Trying to keep up was never even a consideration.

That being said, I hope along with everyone else that the challenge continues. It would be a shame to have something so good go away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tavares Officially an Islander

Press releases from NHL teams show up frequently. Many of them are yawnful (I'm allowed to make up words 'cause I don't sleep much these days). Occasionally, a press release gets you pumped up.

Such is the case with today's news that John Tavares has signed his three-year NHL entry level contract with the Islanders. Kudos to both sides for getting this relatively simple negotation completed before anyone really had the chance to ask, "Hey, how come Tavares isn't signed yet?"

Smooth sailing. Island breezes. All good things in this summer of expectations.

General Manager Garth Snow on the signing:

It's an exciting time for the Islanders organization as we develop our young talent into a contender. John provides another important piece to help us achieve our ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup.

Tavares comments:
I'm excited to officially become a part of the New York Islanders organization and begin my professional career this upcoming season. I look forward to joining the Islanders and be part of a team that's ultimate goal is to bring the Stanley Cup back to Long Island.

In other news, B.D. Gallof has a first-hand report on the Islanders' interest in free agent forward Alex Tanguay. According to Tanguay's agent, Bob Sauve, any presumed interest does not exist.

Snow seems to be deadly serious about letting his young forwards sink or swim this season while letting the signed veterans find their place among the future leaders of the team.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Draft Reflection; Free Agency Day 2

In the days leading up to the draft, Garth Snow was already being lauded for his handling of the first selection. By not tipping his hand at all, he was keeping the Islanders squarely in the spotlight league-wide, while simultaneously piquing the interest of the fan base. Upon converting the tap-in of actually selecting Tavares, Snow has continued to receive praise.

In the end, the most important thing is that John Tavares ended up in an Islanders uniform. But Snow's approach to selecting the sorely needed goal scorer does carry at least one potential negative consequence. By allowing Matt Duchene and Victor Hedman to be 1B and 1C to Tavares' 1A, Snow has inextricably linked the three players in the minds of many fans. These fans will be following the careers of Duchene and Hedman the same way they follow Luongo, Gaborik, Spezza, Heatley, and every other could've-should've-been.

Indeed, when you weigh it, it's a small risk for the crowning moment the Islanders were able to orchestrate on the evening of June 26th. 10,000 fans roaring their approval isn't often achieved in June. And the solution to all that could ill? Tavares goes out and pots 40 a year for at least the next decade. How hard could that be?

The great thing about the draft being over is that it's finally starting to feel like Tavares is really an Islander. Even if you were 100% sure that the Islanders would draft him, there was something uncomfortable about the relationship, fostered no doubt by members of the media intent on making it uncomfortable. But there was a sense that even if the Islanders drafted Tavares, he wouldn't really be theirs. At best, he was a loaner, conscripted to Uniondale according to the rules.

Now, that feeling has completely drained away. What remains is a potential star for Islanders fans to enjoy free from paranoia about Tavares bolting, snowballing, or blowing away like a leaf.


On day 2 of the 2009 free agency period the Islanders have focused on organizational depth. The newest Islanders/Sound Tigers are goalie Scott Munroe, left wing Jeremy Reich, and defenseman Brett Westgarth. Details provided by the team:

Munroe, an undrafted goalie from Moose Jaw, SASK, has been a part of the Philadelphia Flyers organization for the past four seasons. He received his first call-up to the National Hockey League last year with the Flyers. The 27-year-old net-minder posted a career year last season with a record of 31-19-0-4, a save percentage of .926 and four shutouts. Munroe led the Phantoms to the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of the past two seasons. During the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs, Munroe made 65 saves in a five overtime contest against the Albany River Rats to earn the victory in the longest game in American Hockey League history.

Reich has played in a total of 99 NHL games scoring two goals and four assists while compiling 161 penalty minutes. The Craik, SASK native has been a part of the Boston Bruins organization for the past three years and played under Islanders head coach Scott Gordon his first two seasons with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Last season, the 6-1, 196 pound left wing, served as the team captain of Providence, setting single-season career high numbers of 21 goals and 13 assists for 34 points in 76 games. Reich was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round (39th overall)of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Westgarth played the last three seasons in the AHL. Last year, the 6-2, 215 pound defenseman played for the Worcester Sharks, AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, scoring nine points (2 goals and 7 assists) while totaling 137 penalty minutes. Westgarth, a native of Amhertsburg, ON, is a Princeton University graduate who skated for the Tigers from 2002-2007 where he compiled four goals and 20 assists for 24 points.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Roloson Signed to Two-Year Deal

Greg Logan reports on his Newsday blog that the Islanders have signed veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson to a two-year contract worth $5 million.

At first glance, this is a fine solution to the questionable status of Rick DiPietro for the upcoming season. Once given the job, Roloson was very solid in Edmonton last year and can fill the gap until DiPietro is ready to fully carry the load again or, in the worst-case scenario, one of Nate Lawson, Mikko Koskinen, or Anders Nilsson is ready to step in.