Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finally...Compromise

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A sight that we'd love to see again. Compromise between Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Kate Murray (left), Nassau County Executive, Tom Suozzi (middle) and Principal Lighthouse Developer, Charles Wang (right). (Photo Courtesy of Let There Be Light(house))
Very early this morning, I awoke to the blaring of the radio (**Side Note: At this point if anyone were to call me a "glutton for punishment" I'd have to say nothing...other than agreeing with them.**). As I lay there in bed in a half-roused stupor, I caught the most important news I've heard in a month: Charles Wang has finally agreed to meet with Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead Board to discuss scaling down the Lighthouse Project.

Ever since Charles' hard deadline of October 3rd, the outlook on the Project has been relatively gloomy. From the announcement on Opening Night that Charles was looking at all his options, including selling or moving the team, to the recent false report that the Lighthouse had gotten it's plug pulled, to Suffolk County Executive, Steve Levy, publicly announcing via Newsday (which is owned by Cablevision which owns MSG, who in turn also owns the Rangers) that Suffolk County would be more than happy to take the Islanders in if Nassau and specifically the Town of Hempstead failed to approve re-zoning, to even Sen. Dean Skelos (R-NY) trying to get the process going again. Now, at long last, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

We've said all along that the Project most likely would not look the same at the end as it did in the many rendered drawings of the site when planning first began. That's how real estate and property negotiations work. The developer, in this case Lighthouse Development Group, is expected to shoot for the moon and throw every possibility into the mix to see what they can get approved. On the flip-side, the local governments who approve the environmental review, in this case the Town of Hempstead, have the job of paring back what they deem to be unnecessary to the core of the property development and a compromise is reached.

Compromise. There's a word we haven't heard much over the course of this long, overdrawn process. It's time to sit down at the bargaining table and hash out the details boys and girls.

Now, there is finally something to rally around. The people of Long Island have done their part to keep the momentum going. Now it's up to the people in charge of the situation to step up to the plate and give the people what they want. It's time to "Meet Me at The Lighthouse!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thank Goodness That's Over

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****UPDATE 12:00PM: I just received the official Press Release from the Lighthouse Development Group. It appears below.****

October 15, 2009

For immediate release

This statement was issued by Charles B. Wang, Principal of Lighthouse Development Group and Owner of the New York Islanders, at 11:30 a.m. today.

“Yesterday’s report on the Lighthouse project which appeared in the Long Island Press is untrue. There are no plans to abandon this project which is so vital to the future of Nassau County and Long Island as a whole.

As far as the status of the Lighthouse project, we have submitted to The Town of Hempstead and Supervisor Kate Murray all the studies and required documents. A lease has been negotiated. Supervisor Murray and the Town Board need to make a decision on the zoning.

Long Island stands in this defining moment waiting for an answer. Yes or no.

Moving forward, we will not discuss any meetings in the media. Any reports of meetings should be considered untrue.

My heart is still on Long Island. I love Long Island. This is where the Islanders belong. Let's play hockey."

I apologize for over-reacting last night to the Long Island Press story on the potential end to the Lighthouse Project proposal.

Charles Wang has come out publicly through a more accredited news source: Newsday, which is owned by Cablevision, who owns Madison Square Garden, which in turn owns the NY Rangers, to state that the Lighthouse Project is still on!

I think the fact that there wasn't any kind of immediate response to the LI Press article is what worried many of us who believe in the Project and in turn maybe we took action too quickly in denouncing the possibility.

Stay up-to-date on every bit of Lighthouse news by keeping it locked here, going to the official blog site and reading my colleagues posts (from the BlogRoll on the left hand side of the screen) and Twitter feeds. We'll keep this situation as updated as possible and let you know if there are any other developments. Let's get the Lighthouse Project approved already!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All That Blood, Sweat and Tears... And For What?

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It's amazing how your personal life sometimes correlates with the goings on of the outside world. Tonight, I had my first Physics exam of the semester. While I was toiling away on said exam, thinking that my world might come crashing down around me if I did poorly, the world surrounding my life on Long Island fell flat on it's face with an audible "thud". The news came pouring in seconds after I had left the classroom: "The Lighthouse Project is dead."

Any one who has read this blog, knows my fervent support for a revitalization of the area surrounding the Nassau Coliseum. Not just to keep my beloved Islanders where they belong, but to give Long Island a new lease on life. Providing people of my generation an opportunity to live, work and grow in the place they've called home for the majority of their lives. All of that came to a possibly sudden conclusion this evening when we learned of Principle Developer Charles Wang's intention to pull the plug on the Lighthouse Project.

To say that I'm saddened and depressed about the subject is an understatement. This was the one chance for me and many like me, to stay here and grow old here. Now it seems, if the news is true, that the dream has faded. The beacon of hope has been shutdown by political squabbling and the inability to compromise. Is this the reason that I've given my blood, my sweat and my tears to see this Project through to approval? All so I could watch it get flushed down the drain like some failed plan for a strip mall that impinges on the landscape of the Island I call my home?

I've had enough. I've invested too much. I don't know how else to feel but betrayed, confused and unsure about when and how this saga will end...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Don't Leave the Kids Home Today!

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Photo Courtesy of thesheaf.com
The Islanders take the ice for their second home game of the season after finishing a disappointing and short road trip to Ontario and Boston. They came away with OT losses in each game and have yet to lose in regulation this season. Today, as Marty Biron gets his second start as an Islander, they look to reverse the trend of taking games the distance and come away with a win in front of a Kid's Day Crowd at Nassau Coliseum. Click the link below for updates throughout the game and for interviews later on this evening once I get home from class. LET'S GO ISLANDERS!

****UPDATE 12:20AM: Check out the rest of the post, which includes my interview with the newest Islander, Robbie Schremp, about how he is adjusting to life on the Isle and the Press Conference with Head Coach Scott Gordon.****

Also, don't miss the posts on today's game from my fellow Blog Box members:


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Period 1
  • So what normally brings new fans into hockey? Fighting, right? Well, the kids in the crowd got a taste of the hockey experience when Joel Rechlicz squared off with Raitis Ivanans about halfway through the 1st period. Not much of bout by any means but certainly a statement that Rechlicz is looking to establish himself as the de facto enforcer for the Islanders lineup.

  • If you're in my position as an official, fighting is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. It is such an integral part of the game and yet has it's negatives that would almost drive it from the mainstream once someone is gravely injured. This will certainly be a topic that you'll see on here and on Lighthouse Hockey.

  • Remember that guy...I think his name was Ryan Smyth? Apparently, Islanders fans haven't forgotten the tearful goodbye in Edmonton and then the "business decision" he made to leave the Island. He got his fair share of jeering when he touched the puck for the first time.

  • The Islanders have really looked like a solid hockey club save for a couple periods and bad decisions so far this season. They're generating chances off the forecheck, cycling the puck down low and managing to be relatively defensively sound throughout the lineup.

  • Has Rob Schremp made an impression on you, the fans? He certainly has opened my eyes to the possibilities and talent that he brings to the team every time he's on the ice. If he sticks with the team then I have to give major kudos to Garth Snow and the Pro Scouting Team for Schremp's waiver wire pickup. Very impressive.

Period 2
  • Marty Biron really looking calm, collected and square to the shooter today. Yet another very good decision by Garth Snow. Not only does Marty bring a very good #1 goalie presence to the ice but a very friendly teammate in the locker room. He just seems like he wants to be here and a part of this team (whether he gets traded sometime during the season or not).

  • Guess who is in the middle of quite a few good scoring chances? Rob Schremp. He's really making a great case to be included in the regular lineup on this Islanders squad. I love me some, Schremp! Butterfly Schremp, Schremp toast, Schremp with garlic and butter, Creole Schremp, Asian Schremp...Jeff Tambellini who?

  • Dwanye Roloson turns 40 today! Happy Birthday, Dwayne!

  • Just for the record, Tim Jackman is not John Tavares!

  • With 1:27 remaining in the 2nd and with Blake Comeau in the box for hooking, Anze Kopitar rounded the net and buried one short-side through traffic. A really pretty powerplay goal. Kings take the lead 1-0 into the 3rd.

Period 3
  • Drew Doughty shows why he was a Top 5 pick in 2008. He receives a feed at the top of the circle and blows a slapshot by Martin Biron with 14:29 remaining in the 3rd. Stoll and Purcell on the assists. Kings now lead 2-0.

  • With the Kings still up with 3:32 left in the 3rd, I'm shutting down the operation for now. I'll try to check back with some interview tidbits after I get back from class tonight. Have a good one, folks!

  • Hold the phone! The Isles just scored! With 1:55 left in the 3rd, Matt Moulson gets his second of the season. Okposo and Streit get the assists. The score is now 2-1 Kings. With 1:44 left. the Isles have pulled Marty Biron.

  • The Isles put in the effort at the end but it just wasn't enough to overcome the two goal lead. The final score is Kings 2, Isles 1. The overall record for the Islanders season is 0-1-3.


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Interviewing the newest Islander: Rob Schremp

There has been a lot of discussion on a couple of Islander blogs about the newest Islander, Rob Schremp. So, I just had to find out for myself how Rob is fitting in to the organization and Scott Gordon's system. Here is the short question and answer from my chat with Rob Schremp after today's game:

IslesOfficial: "How do you feel about Coach Gordon's decision to give you the minutes you were looking for in Edmonton and is it true that a 'change of scenery' really does work for a player?"

Rob Schremp: "Absolutely. It's obviously a privilege to be on the ice, so to get those extra minutes shows the trust from the coach. You obviously have to work to get those minutes so I came in with the mindset that I was gonna work as hard as I could and go from there. Things have been getting better and better and my minutes have been going up too. I'm getting some powerplay responsibility, so it's been really good. It's been really good change (for me)."

IslesOfficial: "What did you think of today's game?"

Rob Schremp: "I felt pretty good tonight. We had a lot of good chances. When you're getting that many chances it's a good sign of your line working together. It's getting better every game."

IslesOfficial: "Everyone knows you for your offensive talents and abilities, how do you think you're fitting in on the defensive end of the ice, away from the puck?"

Rob Schremp: "I feel good. We have a great D-corps here, a lot good veteran defensmen back there and having a good D-corps like that helps us forwards."

Head Coach Scott Gordon's Press Conference 10/12/09

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Closing One Chapter and the Beginning of Another: A Season Preview

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John Tavares at Rookie Camp
Tonight is the night we've all been waiting for since April 14th. It's safe to say that Islander fans have been through the gambit of emotions and turmoil during last season and this subsequent offseason. Now, at the very least, we can finally see some vestiges of hope springing forth from the youthful exuberance of a young man who less than 4 months ago didn't know he would be playing in his first NHL game to a raucous Nassau Coliseum crowd. His name is John Tavares and he's an Islander...

****
Whether you believe that this rebuild has taken a turn for the better or you believe that the Islanders will no longer be playing in Nassau Coliseum after 2015, means little to the hype and hope that has been generated this summer. When you combine the smart free agent moves that Islanders General Manager, Garth Snow, has made over the past two years and the excellent job of the scouting team, selecting players that fit the mold that second year Head Coach, Scott Gordon, has instituted, you have the makings of something very special. Tonight, we will have the privilege of seeing the first steps of that rebuild. Tonight, we get our first look at the future.

Forwards

There were very few surprises that came out of Saskatoon's training camp. However, there was one that jumped out at everyone: Matt Moulson. Whether it's his childhood connection with John Tavares or him finally making good on the talent he's been given, we'll never know. Frankly, all I want him to do is what he did during the preseason: put the puck in the net.

Enough has been said about the talent of the OHL's all-time leading goal-getter, John Tavares. Now, is the time to make good on all that talent. He's dynamic and he will make mistakes. I urge Islander fans to not see him as a savior but as a very big piece of the whole. Remember, this is a game where if the team competes together they win. If they rely on one or two pieces to get them through, they'll most likely lose. Just ask yourself, "Who scored two of the Penguins goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals?" Max Talbot, a third-line player who scored when it counted most.

The rest of the forward corps is pretty much all returning from last year's squad.

Josh Bailey has especially impressed me by his work ethic and willingness to make good on the promises he made after the final game last season: "I want to get stronger, put on some weight and work on my shot", he said. After an offseason that has seen Josh put on nearly 20 pounds of muscle, I'd say he delivered and you will see a marked improvement in his play this year.

Kyle Okposo is yet another player who I'd like to spotlight in his continued efforts to not only show the league that he belongs in the elite power forward category but also display that there is very solid, young leadership on this Islanders squad. If he's able to stay healthy this season, it's not out of the question for Kyle to break the 60 point barrier.

The rest of the forwards are composed of wily veterans like Richard Park, Trent Hunter and newly anointed Captain, Doug Weight. Adding that kind of wisdom to a relatively young and inexperienced group of forwards will certainly be a welcome group of voices in the locker room.

Defense

Here's where the fewest changes were made and the most mystery lies. How will an aging blueline fare in Go-Go's system. Granted d-men like Martinek, Gervais and Streit (last season's point, ice-time and plus-minus leader) will be able to keep up and probably exceed expectations, but what of Brendan Witt. I would hate for him to repeat last year's extreme minus performance(-34). I doubt this will be the case. Brendan is too proud and too much of a warrior to let a season like that happen again.
Andy Sutton
However, I think the player to watch this season will be towering 6'6" 245lbs. defenseman, Andy Sutton. Last season, Andy came to camp in the best shape of his life and his skating was markedly better than ever. If he can manage to stay healthy, this might be his breakout year. Unfortunately, if he does play well, there is a very good chance that the behemoth will end up on the trading block when the trade deadline rolls around.

Goaltending
Dwayne Roloson
When Free Agency began on July 1st, it was a sure-bet guarantee that Garth Snow would be in the market for a goalie. Well, he got his man and more. Dwanye Roloson and Martin Biron (the most surprising free agent pick up of the offseason) will be your goaltenders for the 2009-10 season (or at least until Rick DiPietro gets his act together). Both are very capable #1 keepers and the competition for time between the pipes should be fierce.

This is in stark contrast to the goaltending situation of a year ago. I'm am a huge fan of both Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis. Please, don't get me wrong here. But this is a completely different situation. When a team knows, that the goalie they have in net will bail them out when they goof up, that confidence will influence every aspect of team play.
Martin Biron
Not only do Biron and Roloson being the stalwarts in net help on the ice, but they also allow Rick DiPietro, the former face of the franchise, to heal at his own pace and without him having to risk his long-term health on coming back too early. The situation that happened last year with Rick's knee will not be repeated and that can only make Islander fans happy that their management team is taking steps to ensure the rebuild goes forward as planned.

Coaching

Nowhere in this organization has there been such a steady and educated group of coaches than the three taking the helm this season. Head Coach Scott Gordon and his two Assistants Scott Allen and former Islander Dean Chynoweth will be able to keep the system running at full speed all season. With his penchant for teaching younger players how to be professionals, Gordon was tailor-made for this job. Now that most of his core is intact, he can do less teaching of the system and more refining the on-ice product. I think this will be a very good season for these three men behind the bench.

Final Predictions

Yes, I know. The Lighthouse decision looms large on tonight's proceedings as today is Owner Charles Wang's date for "certainty" about the Project. However, I think if tonight, the fans show how passionate and supportive they are of this team and this organization, everything will take care of itself in the end. There is no reason to panic...yet.

As far as the season prediction goes, I believe there will be a healthy improvement over last year's, Last Place, finish (61 points). With the backstoppers to inspire a young group of forwards and a "D" corps that is eager to make up ground that they lost last season due to injury I believe that the final totals will be:

10th place in the Eastern Conference, 4th in the Atlantic Division and 81 points.

Now, let's go out and have some fun and get this 2009-10 season started off on the right foot by beating the Stanley Cup Champion "Flightless Birds"!

See you at the game!