The Islanders pair up and disperse to local elementary schools every season to speak to thousands of impressionable Long Island students.
Over several years, across hundred’s of schools, some things never change
1. The Dolled Up Teacher – Something tells me those 4” heels aren’t your “everyday shoes” for teaching first grade. Also, those giant hoop earrings are just asking for trouble around grabby six-year-olds. They always have the same dark eyeliner and tight pants; the only thing that differentiates these lovely ladies is their creative excuse for finding some one-on-one time with the players.
2. The Over-Zealous Gym Teacher – I’m sure your third-grade student is the Wayne Gretzky of floor hockey and he can make a foam ball dance on his strait-bladed plastic stick like I wouldn’t believe. No, we can’t ask John Tavares to strap on goalie gear and stand in front of the taped-up outline of a goal on the cafetorium wall so your supposed prodigy can shoot on him.
3. The Token Ranger Fan – Thanks for wearing a Rangers jersey to the Islanders assembly. Also, thanks for asking a question that emphases your allegiance. Finally, way to turn into the most over-zealous autograph recipient of the bunch. No, they can’t sign your hand/arm/face.
It took two weeks, but we finally hit that point in training camp when players start considering turning down food… Emphasis on “considering.”
The catalyst was last week’s split squad team in Regina, which broke the Islanders record for team meals in a day:
- Breakfast at the Ramada Regina (Bond Villain or crappy hotel?)
- Lunch at the Ramada Regina
- Lunch part deux on the plane to Calgary
- Team snack at the Calgary arena
- Post-game meal in the locker room
- Dinner on the plane
That doesn’t include the countless supply of energy bars, fruit and protein shakes these guys bury between meals.
Sunday in Nashville, after a team breakfast on Long Island and lunch on the plane to Nashville, several players finally announced their intentions to pass on the locker room spread – mostly because no one could figure out what time the game was (6 p.m. eastern), what time we landed (2 p.m. central), and how long we had until the game (3 hours).
The PB&J sandwiches and fruit spread in the locker room sat untouched for about 20 minutes, as players stuck to their guns, before the snack started disappearing, one handful at a time.
By warm-ups, the platters were all picked clean. No one used a plate though, so maybe it doesn’t count as a meal.
Next up: A chance to pass on one of tonight’s two post-game dinners.
Just setting up shop for a media scrum here in Derek Jeter’s office. Matt Moulson had a good interview; it might not have shown the most range in the league, but it was solid - no errors on the score sheet.
John Tavares was set up a few steps towards the dugout, bravely taking on whatever media dared set foot near the Yankee’s third base position.
Prospect heights and weights have been updated on the Isles site from this morning’s physicals (Click Here). Head shots coming soon, too.
There must be something in the water in Niagara, as IceDogs teammates Ryan Strome (6’1) and Jesse Graham (6’0) each added an inch since last year’s camp.
The only other player to stretch a full inch over the season was Doyle Somerby (now 6’6), who really needed that extra range to finally be considered a legit prospect - how far could his career have gone at a mere 6’5, 232-pounds?
In the Hungry Man competition, Loic Leduc added a whopping 22 pounds to his 6’6 frame since last season’s weigh-in, now totaling 221-pounds. Adam Pelech wasn’t far behind, adding 19 pounds and weighing in at 215.
Defenseman Andrey Pedan added a few pounds, but all in flow.
And in other flow news, Anders Lee apparently hadn’t taken off his helmet since his point-per-game NHL debut last season. (When you’re hot, you’re hot.)
It’s a mantra that resonates throughout a sports organization, from ticket salesmen who have an easier time putting butts in seats, to PR guys who get to enjoy some positive press.
While the Coliseum has been hopping and the media has swarmed during the team’s recent stretch of success, not every department is benefiting.
It turns out, when you have the world’s most superstitious coaching staff, the tried-and-true mantra is thrown out the window.
There’s been one constant during the Islanders’ exciting playoff push, and it doesn’t involve the starting lineup, line combinations or X’s and O’s.
The coaches’ basketball game has become a pregame institution, much to the dismay of the staff’s ankles, knees and backs.
After several weeks of playing, it’s become evident that the coaches don’t even like basketball. But when they play, we win. So they play.
With countless rolled ankles, twisted knees and jammed fingers, the banged-up coaches spend more time with the team medical staff than most players.
They ditch the crutches, braces and ice in the locker room each night and limp out to the bench to coach through the pain.
Doug Weight debuted his new pair of Dunks on the last trip… they led to a career-high 9% shooting percentage (the games are determined in large part by rebounds, and when you’re under the basket with a bunch of hockey players, those rebound’s also come with an elbow to the face).
Here’s what Assistant Equipment Manager Richard “Shakey” Krouse looks like unloading the team’s dry cleaning.
(Always such exciting stuff on this blog, right?)
This was actually a first for Shakey. You see, the team doesn’t get its workout gear dry cleaned…
At 2 a.m. Wednesday, after the Islanders equipment staff had already driven the equipment from Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center to Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, they hauled fresh bags of CLEAN practice apparel to the team hotel in anticipation of an off-ice workout.
Apparently, when they asked the hotel to keep the clean laundry at the front desk for players to pick up in the morning, all the bellhop heard was “laundry.”
The clean gear was sent straight to a dry cleaning service, based (of course) in New Jersey.
The mishap was discovered less than an hour before the day’s scheduled workout, once the laundry had already been dumped out of each player’s bag and locked into a lengthy cleaning cycle.
Four hours after the workout was supposed to begin, the re-cleaned gear arrived, beautifully ironed, folded and tagged in individual dry-cleaning bags.
Sadly, the players weren’t able to appreciate their workout shirts and shorts in such pristine condition, because the equipment staff (and certain honorary members of the equipment staff, who also dabble in PR and blogging) spent the next hour removing every stapled tag from every shirt, sock, boxer and sweatband.
Here’s how many tags I pulled out of my first TWO bags…
…Between players, coaches and trainers, there were 30 bags.
The de-tagged gear was re-sorted into player’s individual laundry bags, which looked like this…
…which was a shame, because I was highly anticipating writing a recap of my first-career NHL Laundry Draft; a pick-by-pick analysis starting with the first-overall pick (a showdown between Radek Martinek’s pricey Skinz spandex pants and Tavares’ barefoot-running footsie thingies) to the final pick, Mr. Irrelevant, a.k.a that loose left sock with a whole in it belonging to a player that I’ll allow to remain nameless.
Scrolling through the Islanders’ comprehensive auction page, which was established to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief, Jordan Mosberg’s parents wisely scrolled past every autographed stick and jersey.
They instead came away with “Islanders Equipment Manager For A Game.”
Maybe they thought it was time for their nine-year-old son to learn how to do laundry.
Fortunately for Jordan, he was quickly promoted from the dryer room to the Islanders bench.
Jordan spent the afternoon in the Islanders locker room handing out towels, and waters, and even running equipment back and forth from the repair room to the players.
He watched pre-game warmups from the home bench and finished the game along side Head Equipment Manager Scott Boggs, meeting every player for an autograph.
Knowing Boggsy, Jordan likely walked away with a new Islanders wardrobe, too.
Here’s Jordan meeting Lubomir Visnovsky after the game.
Here he is playing it cool - clearly not noticing Kyle Okposo - while preparing to hand out waters with Assistant Athletic Trainer Phil Watson.