Pat LaFontaine may be one of the greatest players to don an Islander uniform from 1983 to 1991, but a rift between team owner Charles Wang and LaFontaine has caused the Isles to erase him from their history.
The issue was brought to light yesterday when the Wall Street Journal published an article by Mike Sielski called “Cutting a Star Out of the Picture” (a must read).
The tale is quite simple really: After spending 40 days as an unpaid senior advisor to Charles Wang, back in 2006, LaFontaine resigned hours after Wang had fired then general Manager Neil Smith. He told the WSJ that resigned because he didn’t like the direction the franchise was going. "I believe you treat people fairly," he said in the article. "And stand up for what you believe in."
Since then there has been a rift between the two sides.
In 2008, then Anaheim Ducks General Manager, Brian Burke wanted a credential for LaFontaine so he could sit with him when the Ducks played the Islanders. The team denied Burke’s request multiple times, to his bewilderment, so he provided a ticket for LaFontaine to sit in the Ducks owner’s suite. The Isles told the New York Times Slap Shot blog that he would have been welcomed to sit in a suite reserved for team alumni.
That was the last time he has stepped foot in the Nassau Coliseum.
Over the years the team has neglected to mention his presence in charity events, such as the bike ride from Toronto to New York that Steve Webb and LaFontaine both took part in. The WSJ article notes that the team issued a news release on their website mentioning Webb, but not LaFontaine.
The omission became even more blaring when the Islanders did not induct him into the teams hall of fame, even though he has 566 points and 287 goals as an Islanders, during the 40th anniversary ceremonies. They also left out his “Easter Epic” goal against the Washington Capitals in their opening video:
This, of course has drawn the ire of fans and media alike prompting a very passionate post from Justin Bourne, editor of the Backhand Shelf and son of Islander great Bob Bourne.
And it’s hard to fault anyone for criticizing the Islanders for, intentionally or unintentionally, omitting one of the greatest players to play for this organization. LaFontaine is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and has his number retired 16 retired in Buffalo. It’s hard to fathom why he has not at the very least been inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame.
Not to mention how much of a staple he is on Long Island. Between his well documented charity work to coaching the Long Island Royals to having one of the coolest back yards on the Island. Yet “Long Island sole professional sports franchise” seemingly forgets about him.
And LaFontaine would be great in a hockey operations position with Isles as well.
One can hope that the fractured relationship between the two sides can be fixed and LaFontaine can be welcomed back into the Islanders family. That’s the very least they can do for a man who’s given them so many fond memories.
The Islanders quietly fell to the New Jersey Devils 3-1 as New York wraps up another disappointing season.
Things did not start off well for the Islanders; Patrik Ellias scored just 1:18 into the game to make it 1-0 Devils. But the Islanders Matt Moulson answered back two minutes later. He picked up a loose puck in front of the net and fired it past Devils starter Johan Hedberg.
Midway through the period Michael Haley and Cam Janssen dropped the gloves and gave the fans a good show.
Marty Reasoner was called for hooking at 19:54 of the first period and allowed the Devils to get their second power play of the night. Travis Zajac took advantage of the power play by scoring 22 seconds into the second period.
That’s all it would take to propel the Devils to a victory. Ilya Kovalchuk added an empty netter with 55 seconds left in the game to ensure the win.
The Isles were outshot 20-19 in the loss to the Devils.
Rookie defensemen Matt Donovan, who was making his NHL debut, saw 20:57 of ice time. Donovan had a solid performance tonight and looked like he belonged out there.
The Islanders will host the Winnipeg Jets for their final game of the season at Nassau Coliseum.
Isles Sign Brock Nelson to Entry Level Contract
Earlier today, the Islanders announced they had inked prospect Brock Nelson to an entry-level contract.
The 20-year old forward led the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux in points (47) and goals (28) this past season. He also ranked third in the nation in goals and tied for 12th in points.
During prospect camp in July, Nelson’s improved play had caught the eye of Islanders head coach Jack Capuano.
“Looking at Brock I think he put on 12 pounds after his freshman year at North Dakota,” Capuano told the New York Hockey Journal at the time. “You can see a little more power in his stride and where he came from in a full year, so he’s only going to get better. He’s only going to be a sophomore next year at North Dakota, but he’s one of the guys that if your asking me that sticks out a little bit I can see that for sure.”
Nelson is expected to report to AHL Bridgeport.no comments
Uniondale, NY -- With the Islanders out of the playoffs and after two ugly loses this weekend, there was no one more disappointed about how things have turned out than all-star John Tavares.
The 21 year old has yet to know what the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are like during his three-year career with the Islanders. His team has finished in the bottom five the past two years and is about to again this year.
“Anytime you don’t reach your goal and gain that opportunity to compete for the cup it leaves a sour taste in your mouth,” Tavares said somberly after the loss to Ottawa. “It makes it real difficult watching it and we didn’t reach it this year, but there’s three games now left. We have to stay together, play hard and play with a lot of pride and do the right things. And try to get better and improve for next year.”
This season may be especially hard for Tavares since he has been having a career year. To date, he has a career high 31 goals along with a team leading 78 points. Not to mention, it was a mere four weeks ago that the Islanders were still very much in the playoff hunt, but saw there postseason dreams fall apart after a four game losing streak.
“You go through a lot of ups and downs through the year,” Tavares added. “You want to finish strong no matter what the circumstances are and who you’re playing against. Whether you’re trying to get better as a player and grow and learn the game… We just want to stick together and play better hockey than we have the last few games.”
Tavares and the Isles finish out their season with games at New Jersey; home against Winnipeg; and out in Columbus.no comments
Uniondale, NY -- The Islanders’ locker room was not a happy place after this afternoon’s 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on fan appreciation day. The Isles played bad and they knew it.
“It was pretty horrible on our part,” said captain Mark Streit. “They were missing two of their top players, we didn’t take advantage of it, but the way we played we didn’t deserve to win that’s for sure.”
New York opened the scoring 7:55 into the period as Streit finished on a great pass by John Tavares from behind the net. But the lead disappeared before the first period even ended. Kyle Turris lifted one right over a fallen Al Montoya and Matt Moulson to tie the game at one late in the period.
In the second period things only got worse.
With the Senators on the power play Sergei Gonchar scored off a no look pass from Milan Michalek to make it 2-1. Jack Capuano sent out five defensemen to take the face-off after the goal. A move he said he’s done before and was trying to send a message to guys who weren’t playing up to par.
“You know what our forwards weren’t going,” he said when asked about the move. “There were lines that had one shot, there were lines that didn’t even have a shot or attempted shot. There was no urgency in our game tonight. No excuses, but some guys got to look in the mirror.”
But the move didn’t seem to provide much.
Michalek scored a goal of his own three minutes later to make it 3-1. Nick Foligno added another Senators goal before the second period came to close. The Senators Turris got his second goal of the night to make it 5-1 exactly seven minutes into the third period.
“We played too complicated,” Streit added after the game. "We didn’t get the puck deep, we had way too many turnovers and they kept it simple. They work pretty hard and we just played too complicated… Tonight we just played awful.”
Capuano agreed adding, “We didn’t compete hard enough tonight. We didn’t deserve to win the hockey game. We had some guys that played with no urgency in their game at all.”no comments
Uniondale, NY -- It was a night of first for several Islanders on Thursday night. Marty Reasoner scored his first goal as an Islander, Kyle Okposo hit a career high 20 goals in a season and Josh Bailey had his highest points total in his career. This all coming on the same night the Islanders beat the Penguins, one of the best teams in the NHL, 5-3 at Nassau Coliseum.
It was the second game in less than four days the Isles upset the Pens and helped their New York Rivals, the Rangers, maintain their top spot in the east.
Marty Reasoner opened the scoring at the 11:07; Mark Streit skated behind the net, from the far to near side, and hit Reasoner with pass at the top of the slot. It was his first goal as a New York Islander and the first time he scored since March 8, 2011 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I know that he’s waited a while for that,” said head coach Jack Capuano after the game about Reasoner’s goal. “Frans [Nielsen] made a great play, we had some zonetime and he changed at the right time and Marty came right through the slot. The hard work that he’s put in it’s good to see him get one.”
The Penguins tied the game in the second period with the Islanders on the power play. Pascal Dupuis fired a blast past the glove of Montoya to tie the game at one. Kyle Okposo put the Isles back on top eight minutes later when he fired a pass to Nino Niederrieter, who was moving to the net, but had the puck redirected into the net by the skate of Pens’ defensemen Deryk Engelland. Josh Bailey made it 3-1 when he scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 18:36 in the second period.
Kyle Okposo scored his second goal of the night, and 20th of the season, 5:52 into the third period off a feed from Josh Bailey.
The Pens looked to make a comeback; Jordan Staal snuck one past the glove of Montoya at 8:20 and Evgeni Malkin cut the Isles lead to one with 1:31 left in the game.
But Josh Bailey put the kaput on the comeback when he sealed the Isles win with an empty net goal, which was also his fifth point of the night.
“I think as a line we played a really good game and obviously happy to get a couple of points,” Bailey said after the game. “We found a way to get some goals and had a good cycle going there on Marty’s goal.”
Bailey finished the game with two goals and three assist for five points. It was the first time an Islander player has scored five points in one night at the Nassau Coliseum since Niklas Andersson did it back on December 10,1996.
After the game Okposo was happy to have hit 20 goals, but was more complimentary to how the team performed.
“It feels goo to get to 20 goals for the first time,” he told reporters. “I was happy with the way we responded after they had some momentum throughout periods of that game. Obviously Bailey played terrific.”no comments
The Islanders have signed goaltender John Grahame for the remainder of the season to back up Al Montoya. Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported that he should join the team on Friday.
Grahame has not appeared in an NHL game since the 2007-2008 season, when he played in 17 games and had a 3.75 goals against average and a .875 save percentage. Since then he split time between the AHL’s Albany River Rats, KHL’s Omsk Avangard, AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms and the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters.
The 36 year old retired after last season, playing in 34 games for the Monsters, posting a 2.39 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
Before signing with the Islanders today, he had been the goaltending coach for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL.no comments
Evgeni Nabokov is day-to-day with a lower body injury according to Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano.
Nabokov left last night’s 5-3 win over the Penguins after falling awkwardly midway through the second period. It looked like a Pens player, who was hovering around the left side of the net, tripped him up.
The fear is that Nabokov may have a groin injury. He suffered one earlier in the season against Montreal on November 17 and missed 11 games.
As for David Ullstrom, who left last night’s game with an upper body injury, he did practice today with the Islanders. But no information was given regarding his health.no comments