Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chasing the Rumors or Chasing Our Tails?

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Billy Guerin is speculated to have been traded or is very close to being traded. Keep up with the Blog Box tonight on their respective websites (I'm guest blogging on Gary Harding's tonight). Also, don't forget to check back for updates on the game and the Trade Deadline in the days ahead.
Personally, I think it'll be between four teams: Boston, New Jersey, Montreal and Washington.
(Photo courtesy of AllPosters.com)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Brendan Witt Receives 5 Games for Elbowing Incident

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As predicted the NHL was not lenient when it came to disciplining Brendan Witt. He received a 5 game suspension today after facing an NHL hearing. Here is the story from TSN.ca:

ISLANDERS' WITT SUSPENDED FIVE GAMES FOR ELBOW ON HAGMAN

New York Islanders defenceman Brendan Witt was suspended five games Friday for an elbow to Toronto Maple Leafs' Niklas Hagman on Thursday night.

Witt had a disciplinary hearing with NHL's senior vice-president and director of hockey operations, Colin Campbell on Friday.

The incident happened in the third period of the Maple Leafs' 5-4 shootout win over the Islanders.

Witt was assessed a 5-minute major and a game misconduct on the play.

The veteran defenceman has seven assists and a minus-31 over his 49 games with the Islanders this season.

On Friday, Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said Hagman would be sent back to Toronto and not play on Saturday in Ottawa against the Senators.



For the record, Witt was NOT assessed a Game Misconduct but rather a 10-minute misconduct which effectively took him out of the remainder of the contest.

Brendan's Blunder May Cost Him The Next Few Games

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This year, there have been many a suspension decision handed down by the NHL's resident Dean of Discipline, Colin Campbell, that have left many hockey fans scratching their heads. Mike Mottau's flying hit on Frans Nielsen garnered a measly two games while Thomas Pock's elbow to Ryan Shannon's noggin received 5. The inconsistency of the number of games really isn't the issue here. Brendan will get what he gets and he'll have to like it.

What I don't agree with is the stance that many hockey outlets around the blogosphere are taking with this unfortunate incident. From my vantage point up in the Blog Box last night, it clearly looked like Witt was merely trying to prevent Niklas Hagman from playing the puck. When Hagman tried to anticipate Witt's path and attempted to get around him Witt did what any hard-nosed defenseman would do in that situation: take the body, stop the man, do whatever it takes to get the puck out of the zone. For that I can't fault him.

I can fault him however, on his methods. All too often, even in the youth hockey ranks, I've been forced to call elbowing and high sticking penalties because players are not taught to keep their sticks and elbows down from a young age. Thus, they perpetuate a cycle of unnecessary violence that carries through all the way to the professional level. Obviously, in my mind, Witt was simply doing his job. The unfortunate truth is that he reacted to the situation without thinking about the consequences for Hagman's grey matter and caught him right on the kisser.

It was apparent to me as Referee Ian Walsh skated over to the scorers table, (as Witt was being escorted off the ice) to announce the penalty, that he understood the nature of the play to be accidental. It was almost in a reluctant tone that Walsh assessed a 5-minute major and a 10-minute misconduct to Witt.

My suspicions were confirmed about Walsh's reluctance post-game, as both Head Coach Scott Gordon and Witt himself stated that when they received the explanation from Walsh, he made it clear that he understood it to be an accident. The lack of a game misconduct illustrates that to me. It still however, doesn't afford any leniency in my mind when it comes to supplementary discipline. Even though both Witt and the Coach were receptive to the explanation of the major penalty, it still doesn't diminish the fact that it is a league mandate that blows to the head should be severely dealt with by the League.

After the game, Brendan expressed his apologies for the incident. He made sure to note in his media scrum, that he went out of his way to ask the doctors if Hagman was going to be okay. It was certainly clear that Hagman definitely suffered some kind of concussion just based on how he got up. Despite his attempts to reassure a fellow professional that what he did was an accident, I'm sure this will cost the veteran d-man at least 2 games and possibly more.



From an Official's Point of View

Last night, a man and official I have great respect for, took the ice to ref the game between the Isles and Leafs. Ian Walsh (#29) is a product of the USA Hockey program and a leader and mentor to young officials such as myself. I hope his example of officiating can be used by young hockey players to join our ranks and flourish under a better, more structured system than Ian ever had growing up. It was good to see you out there Mr. Walsh.




Photos courtesy of CBC.ca, PensionPlanPuppets.com and Jamd.com (Cache of a Getty Image)

For any Questions, Comments or Interpretations on Bonehead Calls e-mail me at DougD84@optonline.net or Leave a Comment in the Comments Section.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Time is NOW!

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I just received word that the final scope of the Lighthouse Project has been approved by the Town of Hempstead unanimously. This is fantastic news on a major hurdle that had been plaguing the project since early in the application process.

Thank you to everyone who gave their support and their heart and soul to see this project through to hopefully groundbreaking ASAP.

I'll be back with updates later on this evening.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meet Me at What is the Next 25 Years on Long Island

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I am a Long Islander.

I was born here.

I was raised here.

I learned to have a passion for hockey here.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a part of the fabric of 1401 square miles of some of the most densely populated land on the planet.

That is why I need the Lighthouse.

All of you who read this blog and have a passion for Long Island as a whole, should ask yourself this question: "What does the Lighthouse mean to me?"

I am a young man in search of a path to call my own. It has become a reality in the years after college that I was going to have to move off this Island that I've called home for the first 24 years of my life. The unfortunate truth is the fact that young people simply cannot get a foothold here with the cost of living and the lack of alternatives that would allow me to strike out on my own.

With that being said, it is my firm belief, that if two Long Islanders in Charles Wang and Scott Rechler want to give the place I live an identity, a place to call our own and something we can be proud of, we should give them the support that is necessary.

The Lighthouse transcends anything that happens with the New York Islanders. This is about Long Island. This is about you, me and everyone that has been contacted and shown their support (nearly 180 outreach attempts have brought back a 100% acceptance of the project).

This is about 60,000 construction and 20,000 permanent jobs.

This is about a Sports Complex that will attract State Championship after State Championship for all youth sports on Long Island.

This is about an improvement to the quality of life for all of us on Long Island. With roughly $60-$70 million dollars generated in revenue each year.

This is the "Imperfect Storm" as one Lighthouse Development spokesman stated.

Without your support this whole project could fall through the political cracks like so many before it.

It's time to take a stand and make our voices heard.

Tonight 2/21/09, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a "white-out" will be held to show how seriously we Long Islanders are about improving our lives. This is our time. This our home.

This...is our Lighthouse.

Please show your support by coming out in full force tonight and on Tuesday 2/24/09 at 10:30AM for the Approval of the Final Scope of the Project by the Town of Hempstead. The Lighthouse Project is ready. The Environmental Impact Study is ready.

Are you ready?

Friday, February 20, 2009

TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD!! Campoli and Comrie Headed to Ottawa

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Could this be the beginning of what some of us have speculated to be the eventual fire sale here in Islanderland? We could be on the verge of something huge. From the official press release:

Uniondale, NY, February 20, 2009 -- The New York Islanders have acquired center Dean McAmmond and a 2009 first round draft pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for defenseman Chris Campoli and center Mike Comrie.

“We’re excited that we are able to add another piece to our rebuilding plans while bringing in someone like Dean who will provide additional depth for our team,” said Islanders General Manager Garth Snow. “The Islanders organization would like to thank Mike and Chris for their contributions both on and off the ice over the past few seasons.”

McAmmond has played in 44 games with the Senators this season, scoring three goals and four assists for seven points. In 916 career NHL games, the 15-year veteran has recorded 176 goals and 246 assists for 422 points and 442 penalty minutes. The 35-year-old Alberta native was originally drafted by Chicago in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

The Islanders also receive a 2009 first round draft pick, which originally belonged to the San Jose Sharks.

Campoli was drafted by the Islanders in the seventh round (227th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. In 228 career NHL games – all with the Islanders – he recorded 20 goals and 63 assists for 83 points. Comrie was signed by the Islanders as a free agent on July 5, 2007. The 28-year-old Edmonton native has played in 503 career NHL games, scoring 151 goals and 180 assists for 331 points with Edmonton, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Ottawa and the Islanders.
This is the kind of trade that many of us on the inside have been speculating to happen in quite some time leading up to the deadline. What we never knew was that Garth would pull it off and not only pick up a solid two-way player in Dean McHammond but also ANOTHER 1st round pick in this year's draft. Great work by Garth working the phones and getting pieces that the Islanders will need to continue this rebuild.

In my mind, Mike Comrie should have been gone a while ago. I'm just glad I got to meet Hillary Duff before he left. Comrie never really seemed to be the right fit here even under Ted Nolan save for a few games at the beginning of last season against Buffalo. I wish him the best going back to the city and team that he nearly helped bring a Stanley Cup to.

The big surprise for me here is Campoli and I guarantee he was the lynch pin of the trade. It's a refreshing site to see that Garth trusted his coaching staff and his instinct in dealing Chris to Ottawa. They could use a good young puck-moving defenseman and Chris fits that bill. Here he just never found his legs and niche under Scott Gordon. He'll have a long a very productive career and I can only wish him the best as well.

I'll be back to update everyone on Dean McAmmond and what his impact on the team will be this evening. Enjoy this fact while you can: If the Islanders were to finish in 30th place, which seems likely, they will have 4 picks in the top-40 of the draft. Party on Garth!!

Any Questions, Comments or Objections to Bonehead Calls should be directed at directed at you resident Referee at DougD84@optonline.net or in the Comments Section.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

LIVE BLOG TONIGHT FROM THE COUCH: ISLES V. RANGERS

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Update 9:37

Thanks to everyone who contributed tonight to our Live Blog. I hope that there will be a great turnout for the next two games, especially Saturday's Town of Hempstead Night. Let's get the Lighthouse Project rolling. MEET ME AT THE LIGHTHOUSE!!

Cheers!

Shoot That Biscuit Boys!! But Don't Forget to Stop It Too...

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When you're a young kid trying to learn the game of hockey, your first instinct (once you get past the whole skating thing) is to shoot the puck. Scoring is one of the most fun and obviously pivotal occurrences in our great sport. But what happens when talented young men simply can't pull the trigger? You get a player/referee turned team blogger questioning the Coach about why his boys are simply not shooting the biscuit when they get in prime position.

This is the second question I've gotten to pose to the Isles very astute Head Coach, Scott Gordon and I got a very direct answer for my trouble (thanks for giving me the opportunity Seth). My question hinged on an example of a 3-on-1 opportunity that the "Kid Line" had in the second period of Monday's game against the Pens. Kyle Okposo had the puck and instinctively tried to pass across to either Josh Bailey or Blake Comeau and subsequently hit the outstretched stick of the Penguins' defenseman. I pressed Coach Gordon for a solution to some of the unselfish play, especially when someone like Okposo is in that kind of shooting position:


"I think sometimes you get a 3-on-1 and you think that there's gonna be somebody that's gonna be more open than you are and probably talk yourself out of a shot. These are the types of plays that hopefully the players, when they get in these situations, they identify with them the next time they get the opportunities and then realize when you get to a certain point, we gotta make sure that we get a shot."

I know it's instinct for a hockey player bearing down on a goalie to try to get him moving laterally, but there should come a time in a young player's career where he utilizes the gift of talent that has been given to him. I'm sure that Coach Gordon has told the boys on numerous occasions to simply get the puck to the net. In the example I used for my question, if KO shoots the puck rather than trying to dish it off, one of two things could have happened: 1) The shot rips past the goalie and into the net or 2) A big, fat, juicy rebound pops out to the other forwards who are on the rush. Either way, it's a win-win situation and not a squandered scoring chance.

Let me digress a bit. This is not to say that players should shoot from absolutely EVERYWHERE on the ice. In fact, if you've noticed recently, most of the shots the Islanders are taking are from the perimeter. I think Mike Schuerlein of IslesBlogger and Lighthouse Hockey said it best when I asked him about the impact of my question at the presser:


"That's a question I've had for a long time. Why is it that when these guys (the Islanders) get into a good shooting position they pass and when they are in a horrible shooting position, they're shooting?"


It is my hope that in seasons following this initial rebuilding year will grow that killer instinct to shoot and put the other team on their heels rather than take shots from spots that won't generate any other scoring chances. As fans, we can only be encouraged by the progress this group has made over this season. Even though they lose a majority of their games, they never look out of place and seem to be coming together as a team. Let's hope that continues for years to come.


OK, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STAND HERE AND LET THE PUCK HIT YOU...

If you're Joey MacDonald this statement has some semblance of truth. I've never truly been a fan of the goaltending style where it looks like you've taken lessons with Michael Phelps for the backstroke. It always seems, at least to me, that Joey is swimming.

During my Live Blog last game, my friend Dominik over at Lighthouse Hockey was kind enough to drop a comment in about my musings regarding Joey Mac.



"THN had some stat a few weeks back on "save % on rebounds" -- Joey Mac's was not good, no sir."


That being said, Joey has done a magnificent job all season with keeping the Islanders in games and has stepped up quite admirably with "The Franchise" Rick DiPietro out for the season. What bothers me most about his style is not that he does give up a lot of rebounds, but more so that the rebounds end up in high percentage scoring areas (i.e. the slot).

Yann Danis seems to have gotten the hang of deadening the puck when it hits him or directing it to the corner. Joey on the other hand still needs to work on his rebound control. Even Howie Rose, the Islanders play-by-play man had something to say about it:
"Oh, and another (MacDonald) rebound creates potential trouble."
I'm sure it's just something that will come with more time at the NHL level and some good Sudsie goalie coaching.

Any Questions, Comments or Bonehead Calls Should Be Directed to Your Resident Referee at DougD84@optonline.net or the Comments Section.

Photo courtesy of TSN.ca

Monday, February 16, 2009

Game Notes: Islanders v. Flightless Birds

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Can someone please tell me why the Boston Bruins mascot cannot skate? If the "Beast of the East" can't field a mascot that can skate how can we root for hockey in general.

2:12: Bruno nails one off the crossbar on a broken play in the Pens zone.

Pretty big crowd today, wouldn't be surprised if it's a sellout.

Joey Mac is looking solid in net as he squeezes one at the 14:12 mark.

2:18: Joey Mac tries to make a pokecheck at the side of the net and misses badly almost allowing the Pens to squeak one in. The scuffle that ensues after is from a high stick that he takes to the facemask.

2:23: Bergie drives hard to net down the left side and creates a wraparound opportunity for himself. Not a bad rush. Could he be trying to up his trade value or make himself look better in Gordon's eyes?

2:24: Tyler Kennedy fakes Radek Martinek out of his jock strap and still manages to A) not shoot the puck and then Jordan Stall misses a wide-open net net.

2:27: Tambellini unleashes a Russ Tyler "knucklepuck" at Fleury that he turns aside. Probably Tambellini's best chance that he'll get all season.

2:29: Giggity. giggity, goo, goo, goo The Isles score off a feed in front from Bergenheim that goes off of Campoli's skate and past Fleury. Isles 1, Pens o.

2:33: Dina the Arena Hostess is do-si-doing with the 4 National's President's during a TV timeout.

2:34: Jackman takes a Holding penalty. Didn't see it though.

2:35: Kyle Okposo making his presence felt on the PK. Doing a real good job in the neutral zone.

2:39: Malkin toe-drags his way to a nice one-on-one effort goal. Isles 1, Pens 1.

3:04: Loudville lets out it's usual taunt towards Fleury without any ill effects.

3:11: Sad news for the guys coming to games these days: The Islanders Ice Girl twins Kelly and Kristy have been let go :( . The Ice Breakers have also been retired from the in-game entertainment. This is a sad day for male Islanders fans...

3:18: Bergenheim is certainly playing like a madman these days. Bailey, Okposo and Comeau still need to shoot the puck more. Youth is being served but are they serving themselves?

3:24: GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!! A goalmouth scramble by the Isles results in a goal making it 2-1. Goal was scored by Frans Nielsen from Hilbert and Bergenheim. That gives Bergenheim a 2 point game so far.

3:28: Streit gets a Holding penalty at the 4:01 mark. Loudville is chanting for Wendy's Chili. It's MAYHEM!!!

3:32: Whitney finishes off a really nice tic-tac-toe passing play with a beautiful wrist shot blocker side to make it 2-2. Assists go to Crosby and Gonachar. It's a powerplay goal.

3:34: Okposo takes a holding penalty after he was mildly interfered with trying to chase after the puck in the offensive zone. The penalty could possibly carry over to the 3rd period.

3:37: A scuffle happens after Joey covers the puck which results in Malkin being shown a seat, bucketless. Fleury made his way to the blueline but no further. Malkin gets 4 for roughing on the play, Sykora to serve. Campoli also gets a 2 minute rough on the same stoppage.

3:40: Now the MAIN EVENT. The Washington Nationals Presidents race on ice. Roosevelt, Lincoln and Jefferson are dropping the gloves and throwing punches. Roosevelt takes second as Washington makes the full circuit and wins the race.

3:56: Time to start the 3rd period deadlocked at 2.

4:01: Mike Comrie misses on a gorgeous opportunity and Sim goes hard to the net creating a bit of a ruckus after the whistle.

4:06: Joey is giving up juicy rebounds left and right. Gary from View from Section 317 said it's a "Buy One, get One Free Sale"

4:14: Hilbert with some good work on Crosby and nearly clears it over the glass for a 2 minute minor. Witt throwing his weight around is a good sign from the veteran d-man.

4:24: The Isles get Fleury over-committing and swimming but can't capitalize.

4:29: The Isles battled hard and got the game to overtime. 4-on-4 the Penguins are one of the most dangerous teams in the NHL. This should be interesting.

4:33: Joey Mac has made a great save on a Ryan Whitney shot and the Isles have generated some good scoring chances.

4:35: Okposo defending a 2-on-1 and Mac comes up with a great left toe save.

4:37: Okie with another great defensive play on Crosby in the closing seconds of overtime allowing the Isles to get to the skills competition.

4:40: Frans to take the first shot and he SCORES! Forehand to backhand and over the pad.

Sykora scores on Mac with a slapshot from about 10 feet out.

Jeff Tambellini snaps a hard wrist shot glove side on Fleury that beats him. Much like the shootout goal he scored at the end of last season again Henrik Lundquist.

Kyle Okposo takes the next shot for the Isles and misses on his attempted "Datsyuk move".

Crosby rolls in as the third shooter for the Pens and is stoned by Joey Mac on a right toe save. Great, hard-fought win by the boys in Blue and Orange.