Posts Tagged ‘new york islanders’

John Tavares acknowledges that he deserves blame for the New York Islanders‘ shortcomings during his tenure, and wishes the team had accomplished more, but he’s at peace with his contributions.

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward expressed as much when asked if he was surprised by Islanders president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello’s comments from earlier this week in which the former Leafs GM said there was “no aftermath” in the wake of Tavares’ departure, and that it would be different if Tavares’ Isles had won championships.

“In the nine years (I was there) we made the playoffs three times and got past the first round once, so we obviously fell short of where we wanted to get to and we didn’t have as much consistent success as we (would have liked),” Tavares said to reporters, including TSN’s Mark Masters, on Saturday.

“Being the captain there as long as I was, I should shoulder a lot of that responsibility in not doing a good enough job and leading that team,” he added. “I wish I could have done a better job, but I know I gave it everything I had, and looking back, I have no regrets in the way I performed … I just obviously wish we’d had more success and done a better job.”

Tavares departed the Islanders ranking fifth on the club’s all-time points list and seventh all time in goals, despite sitting outside the top 10 in games played.

He signed a seven-year, $77-million contract with the Maple Leafs as a free agent on July 1.

Advertisements

Former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner exited his final game of the 2017-18 season on March 29 with what the team revealed as a lower-body injury. He was not seen in the dressing room for the rest of the year – even on locker cleanout day.

In a first-person story published by The Athletic on Thursday, Lehner admitted he was addicted to alcohol, sleeping pills, and had suicidal thoughts leading up to his mysterious disappearance late in the season.

The night before his final game on March 29, Lehner called Andrew Allen, the team’s goalie coach, and told him he was in a bad place and wasn’t sure if he could start the following night. The two agreed to discuss it at the rink the next morning, where Lehner then told him he was good to go.

Throughout the game, he dealt with exhaustion, chest pains, and blurred vision. After the second period, he had a panic attack and could not return to the ice.

“The phone call I made to Andrew the night before? I was drunk,” Lehner wrote. “I wanted to kill myself. I was extremely close multiple times. The battle playing hockey was nothing compared to the battle inside my brain. It was at its worst.”

Lehner then attended the NHL/NHLPA’s rehab program in Arizona, where he went through a three-week detox which he described as “one of the worst that they had seen.” He had been taking sleeping pills for the last seven years.

Five weeks into the treatment, Lehner was diagnosed with bipolar 1 with manic phases.

After exiting the treatment center, Lehner had to get his mind back on hockey. As an unrestricted free agent, he needed an employer.

“One of the hardest things now was getting back to hockey. I am an addict that was diagnosed as bipolar and ADHD with PTSD and trauma,” Lehner said. “I had never had a sober season of hockey my entire career. Those manic swings, I could see the pattern. When I was hypomanic and in a good mood, I was a solid goalie. The depressive state, not so much.”

Lehner says that Sabres GM Jason Botterill was supportive throughout, and understood when the team decided to go in a different direction after signing Carter Hutton as their netminder. He felt a change of scenery would be best as well.

He met with many teams – one of which questioned why he was a “bad person or a bad teammate” – but didn’t receive any offers. He then met with New York Islanders president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello.

“I had two great meetings with (Lamoriello) and, looking back now, those meetings became some of the best moments in my life. We talked about family and life.”

Lehner, now sober, signed a one-year deal with New York on July 3.

Lou Lamoriello is ready to turn the page.

The New York Islanders president of hockey operations spoke candidly Tuesday about the departure of John Tavares.

“There’s no aftermath. Players come and go,” Lamoriello told Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.

“It’s different if they had won championships. It’s different if they had had a lot of success. They haven’t done much – and I don’t say that with any disrespect. Haven’t been to the playoffs the last couple years. Things haven’t worked out the way everybody would have liked them to, from what my understanding is.”

Since drafting Tavares No. 1 overall in 2009, the Islanders have qualified for the postseason three times, winning one playoff series against the Florida Panthersin 2016.

“So, an aftermath? There’s no such thing in my mind,” Lamoriello, who joined the club’s front office in May, continued. “What the players we have here should be thinking about is not making the playoffs last year, and that’s what the goal should be. Teams win, not players. Individual players win some games, but teams win championships. And that’s what we have to create.”

In addition to Tavares leaving to join his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, the club lost one of its top blue-liners, Calvin de Haan, to the Carolina Hurricanes via free agency and its starting goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, signed with the Boston Bruins this summer to be Tuukka Rask‘s backup.

Like Lamoriello, new head coach Barry Trotz is looking ahead to the future.

“I don’t think with us we mentioned John once, other than when we get asked,” Trotz, who signed on to be the Isles’ bench boss in June for a reported five years at $4 million per season, told Cyrgalis. “We move on. We’re not looking back, we’re looking forward.”

The Islanders brought in veteran free agents Valtteri FilppulaLeo Komarov, and Tom Kuhnhackl, and traded for a familiar face in Matt Martin this offseason.

“The people that were brought in, they all have an element of one of two things,” Trotz said. “They’ve either won, or they bring a high-character value to the group.”

There won’t be an uproar over Josh Ho-Sang‘s jersey number this season.

After wearing No. 66 through his first two years with the New York Islanders, it appears Ho-Sang will wear No. 26 for the coming campaign.

Ho-Sang’s new look comes as part of a series of organizational changes implemented by new general manager Lou Lamoriello that are meant to build team unity, including a preference for lower jersey numbers and a ban on facial hair.

Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech have new, lower numbers as well, the former going from 72 to 18 and the latter from 50 to 3.

“You’ll definitely see the changes that have been made and the structure,” Ho-Sang told Andrew Gross of Newsday. “The biggest thing visually is my face.”

While No. 66 isn’t honored by the Islanders, nor is it retired league-wide like Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99, it’s best associated with Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux.

Ho-Sang’s decision to wear the number didn’t sit well with some hockey traditionalists. In March 2017, however, Lemieux voiced his support for Ho-Sang’s number choice.

Only six players have worn No. 66 in NHL history. Ho-Sang and Calgary Flamesdefenseman T.J Brodie (2010-11 season) are the only players to wear it since Lemieux retired in 2006.

It’s been all quiet on the Jordan Eberle contract extension front.

The New York Islanders forward says he has yet to begin discussing a potential new deal with the club.

“I haven’t had any conversations with anybody,” Eberle told NHL.com’s Brian Compton on Tuesday. “Going into the summer, I was trying to focus on me and being the best I can be, and come into the camp the best I can be. Once that happens, you start trying to fill a role and try to make this team as good as it can be.”

Eberle is entering the final season of the six-year, $36-million deal he signed in the summer of 2012, and as a result, could have started negotiating an extension July 1.

He notched 25 goals and 59 points in his first season with the Islanders after being traded by the Edmonton Oilers for forward Ryan Strome last summer.

The Islanders’ eventful offseason was punctuated by John Tavares leaving for the Toronto Maple Leafs on the first day of free agency, but it also included Garth Snow being dismissed from his GM role, Lou Lamoriello taking it over in addition to president of hockey operations duties, Doug Weight being fired from the head coaching position, and Barry Trotz being named his replacement.

Eberle isn’t the only pending UFA forward on the club, as Anders Lee and Brock Nelson are among the other players up front that the club will need to negotiate with lest they hit the open market next July.

Barry Trotz’s vision helped guide the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup. Now, the 56-year-old is confident that a similar vision, one that emphasizes defense and preaches accountability, can help restore the New York Islanders as a winning franchise

“There’s going to be change. It’s going to be structurally, on and off the ice, expectations are going to change,” Trotz told The Athletic’s Arthur Staple. “Nothing against any former regimes, but we have our own vision of what we want to do, how we’re going to do it.

“They’ve done a lot of good things here. There’s certain things in the way things are managed or established, the rules or how you do things. To me, culture change is an attitude – getting the right attitude, standing for something.”

Most importantly, it’s up to Trotz and his staff, many of whom followed him from Washington, to shore up the team’s biggest weakness: its play in its own end.

“One of the easiest things to correct, if there’s a commitment and a buy-in, is keeping the puck out of your net,” Trotz added. “We’ll need a bigger buy-in, we’ll put some structure, we’ll make sure the details are there and we’ll make players accountable. If they’re not, we’ll get someone who can be accountable.”

Trotz’s system will be tested in trying to clean up the Islanders’ leaky defensive coverage. New York allowed a league-worst 296 goals last season, more than any team in the last decade.

After rotating between goalies Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss last year, the team will turn to a new starter in Robin Lehner, who inked a one-year deal in free agency. Lehner, 27, posted a 42-61-22 record with a .916 save percentage and a 2.77 GAA over the last three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.

John Tavares has left Long Island, but the biggest change to hit New York this offseason may have been the departures of general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight.

In their place, the New York Islanders recruited former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello, who then hired Barry Trotz, fresh off of a Stanley Cup championship with the division rival Washington Capitals.

The new faces will help restore the credibility of the franchise, according to Islanders legend Bryan Trottier.

“The credibility aspect, absolutely, instantaneously it’s there,” Trottier, a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Islanders, told NHL.com’s Dave McCarthy. “The media can’t argue with their experiences and that’s always been a little bit of a problem with the Islanders because if they don’t do well, everybody’s all over them. So now with Lou there, he’s got credibility. Barry’s got credibility.

“How do you second-guess a guy like (former Islanders coach) Al Arbour, a guy like Scotty Bowman, a guy like Barry Trotz? Those guys have years and years and years of experience.”

While Trotz’s Stanley Cup win with the Capitals was the first of his career, he brings no shortage of a winning history, as his 762 coaching victories rank fifth all time (and just 20 back of Arbour).

Lamoriello, meanwhile, has three Stanley Cup rings to his name from nearly three decades at the helm of the New Jersey Devils. He’s also coming off a three-year stint as GM of the Maple Leafs that saw the legendary executive reshape the club into a championship contender. Of course, Lamoriello had a handful of intriguing building blocks with the Maple Leafs, but the Islanders have their fair share of impressive young talent as well.

“For (Mathew Barzal) to be an Islander and to have the kind rookie season he had, he’s not disappointing anyone,” Trottier added. “He’s a down-to-earth kid and tying my rookie assist record was great. Sharing a record with a young, skilled kid like this is awesome. I see wonderful things for Mathew in the future and for the Islanders.”

Should Barzal and the Islanders qualify for the playoffs this year, it will mark just the fourth time the franchise has done so in the past 12 seasons.