While it was a typical steamy July day outside, it was cool and relaxed inside today at Iceworks in Syosset, NY as Okposo Net visited Islanders prospect camp. It was a chance for us to get our first up close and personal looks at players like (2008 1st rounder) Josh Bailey, Jesse Joensuu, Tomas Marcinko, and Blake Kessel, but we also wanted to check in with Kyle and see what he's been up to.
As it turns out, Kyle is just like you and me (well, without an NHL contract, mind you). He's been spending his free time with friends, playing golf, and generally relaxing (no mention if that includes hours of PS3 time). He assured me that it's not all fun in the sun, though, as he has been working hard to improve his skills at the University of Minnesota's hockey facilities. He mentioned his quickness and speed as areas that he's focusing on (even though he looked plenty quick and agile to our untrained eyes as he darted across the ice in a white #21 sweater during the scrimmage). Improving his "first step" burst is an important factor to him in upgrading his game in order to excel at an NHL pace. With the uncertainty that currently surrounds this team, I suppose all he can do is make sure that he's in the best possible shape and preparedness come what may this season.
Other than the scrimmage and our brief chat, it was a pretty laid back and fan-friendly atmosphere, as these events usually are. Kyle and many other players took time to informally sign autographs, answer a few questions, and take pictures with those who wished. I noticed a few youngsters even came away with pucks, which goes farther than you can imagine in building player-fan relations. It's good to see the Isles do right by their loyal fans who have stayed with them through, frankly, a lot of rough road.
Before we head out, a few loose ends that didn't quite make their own blog entries:
Thanks to the ever-resourceful Greg Logan of Newsday, we recently learned that Sean Bergenheim and Jeff Tambellini re-upped with the Islanders. Please be sure to check out Greg's blog when you're done here.
Also, we meant to ask this at the end of last season, but we finally asked Kyle which rivalry, Islanders-Rangers or Gophers-Badgers, was more intense for him to take part in. He gave the slight nod to Isles-Rags, but acknowledged that the crowds at UW's Kohl Center can get pretty intense too.
Remember, keep checking this page as we learn who will lead the Islanders in 2008-2009 and for more interesting Kyle tidbits. As always, thanks for reading.