Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Okposo Out Indefinitely, Surgery Required

The team has just issued a terse statement on the status of Kyle Okposo:

"The New York Islanders have announced that forward Kyle Okposo has an injured right shoulder that requires surgery and will keep him out indefinitely."

What a great beginning to this season, wouldn't you say?

I'll have more on this situation as we learn the details.

UPDATE (3:20PM): According to Newsday's Katie Strang via Twitter, Kyle has a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The report also says that he may be back by December.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Disturbing Injury News

It didn't look good when defenseman Mark Streit left the Nassau Coliseum ice hunched over on Saturday afternoon, and now it appears that Islanders fans' worst fears have come true. Although there hasn't been an official announcement yet from the team, Newsday's Katie Strang posted this disturbing piece of news on Twitter. Streit will miss a significant portion of the season, a huge blow to the defensive corps.

Additionally, Strang reports that Kyle Okposo will have another specialist look at his shoulder tomorrow. Hopefully Kyle and the team are being overly cautious, but this is somewhat discouraging news for a team snakebitten by injuries in recent seasons.

Lastly, and perhaps only marginally related to team health, the Islanders announced that they are inviting five players to camp on tryout bids.

Dean McAmmond, Manny Legace, Anders Eriksson, Krys Kolanos, and Joel Martin will get shots at earning jobs with New York.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who Gets Hurt In A Scrimmage?

Mark Streit does, apparently. While the Islanders don't yet know if there is a legitimate cause for concern or not, Streit did leave today's Blue versus White scrimmage with an apparent shoulder injury. Streit fell awkwardly into the boards after a check from behind from Matt Moulson. Coach Scott Gordon said that more information won't be known until tomorrow (9/26) or Monday.

In other injury news, Kyle Okposo was seen sitting among the crowd of 2,000 or so sporting shorts and his Minnesota Twins hat. Rob Figren was also seen in the seats nursing his ailing foot. Also missing, but unseen, was recovering captain Doug Weight.

Rick DiPietro was also doing his best to injure himself (we kid), at one point belly-flopping towards the boards while chasing down a loose puck. He also got into a bit of a scrum with Jon Sim, though the goalie described the action as a "love tap." At the end of the day Rick mentioned that 11 AM was an odd time to play hockey, but said he was no worse for wear after the event. That's good to hear.

The white team emerged the victor after a makeshift "overtime" skills competition, 5-4. The coach thought the day's event served the team well heading into their pre-season games, though he did not go into much further detail.

More news on the Weight situation as it unfolds.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting to Know Mr. Snow

This afternoon I had the great privilege of participating in the first (and hopefully not the final) "roundtable discussion" with Islanders management. Dee Karl, Tony Stabile, and I were guests of General Manager Garth Snow. There were no guidelines set or any off-topic areas to be avoided. There have never been any such rules, nor are we ever fed potential story lines by those who oversee the Blog Box. Just so you know.

I bring this up because just hours prior to our meeting with Garth emerged the unsettling news that prospect Kirill Kabanov had again been late to a team practice. While potential discipline for Kabanov falls entirely within the jurisdiction of the coaching staff, as far as I know, it does lead me into a convenient segue on a topic that I broached with Mr. Snow.

I was eager to discover how involved he is in the drafting process, since the success or failure of picks like Kabanov reflect directly on his reputation as a General Manager.

"I'm always hands-on in regards to the meetings with the scouting staff," Snow told the group. "If I don't get a chance to see a player first-hand [then] I'll see him though video." He continued in greater detail explaining the process, insisting that the communication he has with the team's regional scouts is the quintessence of the drafting process. "I go right to the [scout] that's seen [the player] twenty, thirty times."

He characterized the time leading up to the draft and the event itself as "fun." He noted that while it's an unrealistic goal, "every team wants to get every pick right," and that's his goal as well. Furthermore, he feels that he and his staff need to be especially correct about first round picks, due to their high value and ability to alter a franchise's course. By "correct" he meant in assessing both their talent and attitude.

Which brings us back to today's events.

While neither Garth nor any team officials commented on Kirill Kabanov's situation, it doesn't take much cognitive ability to realize that the Islanders are extremely upset with the young man. Garth, when speaking on other topics unrelated directly to drafting, stressed more than once how important the character of the men on the teams he builds is to him. He encapsulated that sentiment by sharing a motto of sorts: "Good people can do great things. And I believe that."

This past July I interviwed Kabanov for the first time. By now you all know his basic story: A 1st-round hockey talent that fell in the draft due to off-ice issues. In my brief assessment of him I noted how Kirill charmed the media, saying the right things. If you read the entire piece, though, I wondered if he was really as genuine as he wished to appear.

While Kabanov hasn't committed unforgivable transgressions, I am beginning to believe that my initial "read" of him was accurate. His actions are speaking for him, and not well. On the bright side, though, as fans, many of us are forgiving. Hopefully for his sake, Garth Snow's, and the team's, his youth works in his favor and not against him. He still has time to correct his immaturity and learn from this camp experience.


With respect to Garth Snow, this is only the first of many topics that were covered during the roundtable chat. There will be other installments following this one on various subjects. Garth was generous enough to give us about an hour of his time (and almost as much recorded audio!), so we still have a lot to cover.

Hopefully I'll see some of you at Saturday (9/25) morning's scrimmage. Don't be afraid to stop, say hello, and talk Islanders hockey with me!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some News From Media Day

While prior commitments didn't allow me to join the New York Islanders at today's media day, there was an announcement made a few moments ago. The Islanders have signed Swiss winger Nino Niederreiter to an entry-level deal.

The Islanders are obviously high on the 18-year old Niederreiter, whom you will recall was the team's 1st round draft selection (5th overall) this June. Many fans and media are speculating that the signing is a precursor to Niederreiter making the NHL squad out of training camp.

View the Islanders' full version of the announcement here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Checking In From Rookie Camp

Rookie camp is underway on Long Island, as Scott Gordon and his coaches take up the first task of their 2010-2011 NHL season. Specifically, it's the task of evaluating and teaching some of the heralded young talent that General Manager Garth Snow has stockpiled for the team over the last few seasons.

Gordon, who shared some post-skate thoughts with the few of us in attendance, said that this week is about giving the rookies a chance to display their talents. "Every player has his own special abilities and it's important that they show those," the coach declared. He went on to say that he wasn't overly concerned with this group's mistakes, realizing that they are inexperienced and aren't really expected to perform as a team.

"An opportunity is put in front of them. What they do with it ultimately rests in their hands." He summarized his role nicely, saying, "As a coach you try to teach; your objective is to give the players a game plan that allows them to be successful. Along the way you try to have a little fun with it."

I'm not sure if the players would agree with that last sentiment, though, as we saw a few instances of Gordon taking players to task on the ice. Kirill Kabanov's Day 1 tardiness earned him some extra sprint skating after the session, and more than a few times Gordon halted drills with his whistle to correct players on their positioning.

While we didn't recognize all of the names on the ice, we did all keep our eyes glued to Calvin DeHaan, goalie Mikko Koskinen, Travis Hamonic, Nino Niederreiter, and the aforementioned Kabanov, who sported a bright orange sweater.

We are also happy to report that Calvin DeHaan said he is fully recovered from last season's injury, and is undeterred by the defensive logjam ahead of him on the Islanders depth chart. He mentioned that he has been working on his strength and conditioning with coach Jesse Demers for the last four weeks. DeHaan will be heading to Boston tomorrow when the Isles' prospects play a game against their Bruins counterparts at the TD Garden.

Stay with us for more camp news and views later this week.

Scott Gordon, (Bridgeport head coach) Jack Capuano, and the Isles coaching staff impart their wisdom upon the youngsters.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So Close You Can Smell It

As the title implies, the days are getting shorter and hockey season is nearly upon us again.

But first a few notes to our loyal readers: we haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. We're still here, and are primed to give you more frequent and deeper coverage than ever before.

The Blog Box, with new leadership and the continued blessing of the New York Islanders franchise, rolls on into its fourth season this autumn. Opening Night may not be until October, but we're ready to deliver news and views from training camp, which begins in just a few short days.

Most of the players have arrived on Long Island, ready for another dose of Coach Scott Gordon's tutelage. For a few of the boys it will be their first camp with the Islanders, so we hope to hear from them first. We'll also catch up with Doug Weight, Kyle, and anyone else who'll grant us a few minutes of their time.

While we're not here to paint a completely rosy picture, we must say that many people we've been in contact with expect bigger things from the young Isles this season. We're excited, and we hope our forthcoming stories will encourage you to be too.

Islanders fans have hungered for a team to be proud of, and the page may finally be turning on the rebuild. The Blog Box is also changing, though you won't notice it here. We, the bloggers, are taking our cues from people with a real vision of what the Blog Box can be, which is a refreshing and positive change. Expect more interactivity and videos, for sure. We may even have a special treat for you by the middle of next week.

To our new readers, thank you for choosing Okposo Net. To those of you who have been with us a while, thank you as well, and please stick with us for what promises to be another exciting campaign.