I got a comment from a friend of mine from High School who found my blog that asked why hadn't I written about hockey yet? I haven't spoken to him in years, but he attributed his interest in hockey to my fervor for the New York Islanders during our high school years, when the Isles were a dynasty. Ah, those were the days. Bossy, Trottier, Potvin, Battlin' Billy Smith and of course Al Arbour.
So as any good Islanders fan would, I have chosen the day after the Isles beat the Rangers to write my first piece on hockey. Nothing gets better than that. And "goalie for life" Ricky DiPietro notched his 100th win of his career. Only 13+ years to go.
So a few quick thoughts:
- I would love to be able to get into hockey again. But after the strike the NHL, which is making over $2B in revenue and in the black, decided to air their games on the Versus network rather than ESPN...or any other channel that is carried by cable. Great decision Mr. Bettman. I know the rinks are full, but now the only people who will be part of the fan base are those who actually go to the games. The only games I even have the opportunity to see are Bruins (boo!) games on NESN, which isn't available in hi-def by me. So it's impossible to really watch. So maybe I'll go to a P-Bruins game or even venture up to the (TD Banknorth) Boston Garden this year. But otherwise, except for the "Melrose Line" podcasts, it's impossible for me to follow what's going on and become the fan that I used to be. I still have my Denis Potvin jersey in the closet, but it doesn't get much use anymore.
- The Isles are surprising again this year. Just like last year, no one expected them to be competitive. In fact, I think I recall seeing several pundits pick the Isles to be at the bottom of the standings. After the losing almost half of the scoring from last year (Ryan Smith, Jason Blake, dare I say Alexei Yashin), it was hard to argue. But I just think that it goes to show how GREAT of a coach Teddy Nolan is.
- Was there anything cooler than having Al Arbour come back and coach his 1500th game for the Islanders earlier this month? Well one, thing, have the team come back and win in the third, by beating the Penguins 3-2. Al Arbour was as much of a symbol of the glory years of the Islanders franchise that I grew up with in high school as any player or member of the organization (props to Bill Torrey). I thought that it was a great idea and was happy to see that he's still got some coaching left in those old bones. Watch this Al Arbour tribute video