Rules To Golf By

Islanders fans set to tee off with a player at the upcoming ICF Golf Outing should take note:

A day at the Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy, Mass, with Colin McDonald and Brian Strait offered a few things to keep in mind when hitting 18 with an NHLer.

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1. They Dress Like Pros

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Even if they’ve never played a round in their lives, these guys have access to enough free golf apparel to put that free golf shirt you got at the company picnic to shame.

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2. They Don’t Warm Up

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In McDonald’s words, “Grip it and Rip it.” (Driving range? What’s a driving range?)

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3. They’ll reach the hole in two strokes… Even from the sand.

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No need to play it safe or “lay up.” If there’s a water hazard, they’re going over it, not around.  

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4. Bring Sandwiches

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We averaged about one sandwich for every three holes. Plus granola bars and fruit to hold them over between sandwiches. No need for plates, when the greens are clean enough to eat off.

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5. Ignore All Signs

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Rules are for losers.

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6. (a) Don’t Hit The Camera Crew

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It’s my job to get media to come to the ICF Golf Outing. Please don’t give them a reason to leave early….

6. (b) Even if they get a little too comfortable

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Not a joke: last year a two-man camera crew from News12 tumbled down a steep hill after their golf cart tipped on it’s side. The PR-guy driving said cart has yet to publicly come forward.

NHL13 New York Islanders Player Ratings
EA Sports’ NHL13 player ratings are out, negating any need for a formal 2012 training camp.
I’d like to be the first to congratulate virtual Matt Donovan for beating out the competition in what was surely a heated battle for the sixth defenseman spot.
Nice to see a virtual NHL arbitrator saw fit for Lubo to join the team. He and Streit both lost five-points from NHL12’s 87 ratings. I guess Streit was five points more valuable last year after his season-ending shoulder injury – tough break.
Better luck next year to virtual Ryan Strome, who’ll seemingly spend another season in the OHL. I guess he didn’t impress in training camp. Kid just isn’t clutch – ask Russia.
Moulson’s three-straight 30-goal season, it turns out, were just flukes. He’s an 82 this season – you’re prototypical “B-minus” NHLer.
Oh, and JT finishing seventh in the league in scoring last year and playing in his first All-Star game? That’s good for a two-point downgrade from his 87 rating in NHL12.
 

NHL13 New York Islanders Player Ratings

EA Sports’ NHL13 player ratings are out, negating any need for a formal 2012 training camp.

I’d like to be the first to congratulate virtual Matt Donovan for beating out the competition in what was surely a heated battle for the sixth defenseman spot.

Nice to see a virtual NHL arbitrator saw fit for Lubo to join the team. He and Streit both lost five-points from NHL12’s 87 ratings. I guess Streit was five points more valuable last year after his season-ending shoulder injury – tough break.

Better luck next year to virtual Ryan Strome, who’ll seemingly spend another season in the OHL. I guess he didn’t impress in training camp. Kid just isn’t clutch – ask Russia.

Moulson’s three-straight 30-goal season, it turns out, were just flukes. He’s an 82 this season – you’re prototypical “B-minus” NHLer.

Oh, and JT finishing seventh in the league in scoring last year and playing in his first All-Star game? That’s good for a two-point downgrade from his 87 rating in NHL12.

 

Comeau Arbitration: All For Naught?

Blake Comeau’s signing on Tuesday conformed to a recent trend in the NHL that’s seen arbitration-bound players and their clubs agree to a deal prior to the hearing. The widely-accepted explanation for the trend is that the player-team relationship takes a pretty big hit after the sides present their competing cases to an arbiter.

Another reason negotiations tend to progress as the hearing date approaches is that each party spends countless hours becoming an expert on the player’s value. Both sides spend weeks trying to evaluate the player’s worth compared to similar players around the league. And if you think they’re just looking at goals, assists and points, you’re kidding yourself. When you let legal minds play with six years worth of hockey statistics, they come up with rankings, indicators and equations that would make a fantasy sports player drool.

Leading up to the hearing, both parties are provided with copies of one-another’s textbook-sized briefs.  Once all of the tables, graphs and arguments are collected, it doesn’t always take an arbiter to judge the strength of each argument and pick a number somewhere in the middle of the competing asking prices.

While the infrequency with which these cases make it to hearing can make a request for arbitration seem like an empty threat, in fact, the tireless research and communication between the two parties in preparing for such a hearing is crucial to the eventual contract agreement - at least that’s what I’m telling myself, in order to avoid feeling like all of that work is for nothing. (You know the feeling of quitting a program without saving your work? This would be more like getting an entire hard drive wiped, days before your appointment to back up your computer.)

Anyway, we got our 24-goal scorer back for another year - feelings intact.

Islanders vs. Real Life

I went to a friend’s wedding this weekend and, like everything else in my life, couldn’t help but compare it to a typical team function.

That means it’s time for an exciting episode of “Islanders vs. Real Life”

This week: “The Islanders Pregame Meal vs. A Real Life Wedding”

Before I go any further, a quick message from our sponsor (errrr, my conscience): Let’s get it on paper that the wedding was beautiful and the families should be proud and blah blah blah.

Now back to the show…

 

This one came down to the wire, but “Pregame Meal with the Islanders” narrowly beat out “Real Life Wedding” with a late-round score from the “Pregame Nap.”

Be sure to tune in next time when “Islanders vs. Real Life” pits “Sparky vs. A Real Dragon.”

P.S. I’m pretty sure this chart is worthy of the 2011 Media Guide.

Two Trips A Year To The Peg

While Celebrations in Winnipeg get underway, it’s worth noting that hockey fans from the Peach State weren’t the only one’s who lost with today’s announcement that True North Sports and Entertainment has acquired the Atlanta Thrashers…

With two away games next season diverted from Atlanta to Manitoba, the Islanders stand to lose:

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1. About 80 degrees Fahrenheit (I figure at least 40 degrees per trip)

2. Two hours of sleep (One following each game that starts at 7 Mountain Time)

3. Two free shoeshines at my favorite hotel

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One final note on the deal, courtesy of Wikipedia:

"According to Environment Canada, Winnipeg is the coldest city in the world with a population of over 600,000."

GAME CHANGER:

While introducing County Executive Edward P. Mangano at today’s press conference at the Coliseum, Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker forever changed the PR game as I know it.

I was expecting a pretty straight forward intro, like “Mr. Mangano has been the County Exec for X years and has overseen some very important stuff that has made taxpayers very happy. Please join me in welcoming him to the stage.” (Polite applause would ensue)

As I found out, that’s not how Walker rolls.

This guy came out like a WWF hype-man, pumping up the already raucous crowd of Union Workers into a “Build It Now” frenzy before Mr. Mangano took the stage. All that was missing was music and pyrotechnics.

To Walker, I say “Bravo,” and “yes, I accept your PR challenge.”

From now on, no one is getting a player interview without watching an Islanders highlight reel, while listening to me spit player stats and superlatives, while I hold a smoke machine and wave around a glow stick.

Your move, Walker.

A Quick Wish List…

With Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano announcing his plan for a “world-class sports-entertainment destination center” today, I thought the future building’s designers could use a few suggestions from a guy that’s recently taken a pretty comprehensive tour of the NHL’s best arenas.

I won’t bother with the requisites of today’s modern arenas, like wide concourses, decadent executive suites, and a full service spa and luxury resort - I mean - locker room.

Here are a few things from around the league that I’d like to see become a part of the Isles new home:

Boston’s Dessert Cart – The best way to the media’s heart is through its stomach, and Beantown keeps its journalists happy with a decadent dessert cart, located right at the entrance to the press box. Even if the Bruins lose 10-0, no one can bring themselves to write a negative story after devouring a massive slice of Red Velvet cake.

Florida’s Parking Lot – Picture the coliseum’s lot, but with palm trees and sunshine. It’s virtually impossible to not tailgate.

Chicago’s Anthem – Nobody does the National Anthem quite like the Windy City. The entire crowd screams throughout the entire song, creating an electric atmosphere before the puck drops.

Ottawa’s On-Ice Video – The Senators play their entire opening video on the ice with a high-tech projection system. There’s something about seeing your favorite player’s tooth-less grin stretching from goal-line to goal-line.

Carolina’s Press Meal – Not to make this all about food, but no one does a better press meal than the pulled pork geniuses at the RBC Center.

Atlanta’s Pyrotechnics – Every time Atlanta scores a goal, two giant “Thrasher’s” blow fire balls, high above the ice. You know what make more sense than a fire breathing Thrasher? A fire breathing Sparky the Dragon.

MSG’s Benches – There’s no real divider between the player benches at the Garden; really, the only thing that keeps the opposing clubs from sharing a bench is a rolling stick rack. It’s only a matter of time before this arrangement brings new meaning to the term “bench-clearing brawl.”

New Jersey’s Youth Hockey Jersey’s – The Devils display hockey jersey’s from every high school and youth hockey team in the state throughout their arena. As a Jersey native, it was very cool to tour the concourse in search of my old sweater, though it wasn’t where I expected to find it, in the rafters.

Pittsburgh’s PR Office – It’s literally in the locker room, separate from the rest of the front office. ‘Nuff said.

Montreal’s Dogs – Did I say I wasn’t going to make this whole post about food? I can’t leave this one out because our players and coaches demand a case of Montreal Hot Dogs after every game. The dog itself is pretty typical, but the buttered, grilled bun makes it legendary around the league.

From the wide world of non-NHL arenas and stadiums…

Dallas Cowboys’ Scoreboard – The Cowboy’s 28-foot high, 50-foot wide High-Def scoreboard is an attraction in itself. I’d buy a ticket for Disney On Ice just to see the mammoth screen in action

New York Mets’ Concessions – There’s no reason New York staples like Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and more shouldn’t be available on the concourse at an Isles game. Plus, this entry was really lacking a good food-related suggestion.

Pregame Powerbombs

Before every Islanders home game, MSG-Plus plants a cameraman outside of the Islanders locker room to give fans a sneak peak at some of the players’ pregame routines. From the essential “walking into the rink with headphones” shot, to the cliché “torching a stick” or “sharpening a skate” mega close-up, the network’s presence in the hallway gives most of the team a reason to hide in the room and warm up behind closed doors.

That’s not to say that all players keep to the room on game days. TV crews have successfully captured several of the more public pregame rituals, from Trevor Gillies’ epic shadow boxing matches, to the soccer ball juggling game of “two touch,” to Rob Schremp’s methodical gluing, shaving, bending and taping of his stick. However, the network has yet to stumble upon one of my favorite warm ups.

About an hour before the opening faceoff, perpetual life-of-the-party Zenon Konopka charges into the Islanders equipment room to renew his ongoing WWE-style wrestling match with equipment assistant Arty Verdi. For nearly three minutes a session, Konopka puts the staffer into headlocks and choke holds, death grips and full nelsons. He’ll throw in massive body blows, toe-stomps and eye gouges, pausing only to climb the ropes and hype his crowd; the captivated audience of equipment and PR staffers usually oblige.

Zenon has become so accustom to the routine that he’s started to lobby for Arty to travel with the team. The big center swears that a bodyslam is on its way before the end of the season. Hopefully he gets it out of his system before the cameramen catch on.

Drop a beat

Mark Eaton spits hot fire. (Getty Images)While the Islanders will certainly miss the veteran presence that defenseman Mark Eaton brings their blueline, I’m pretty sure the biggest void left by the assistant captain’s hip injury will be felt off the ice… and not in the cheesy “leadership” sense.

Mark Eaton knows every word to every rap song ever played in the Islanders locker room. Straight out of Compton, a.k.a. Wilmington, Delaware, Eats can go word-for-word with the likes of Drake, Jay-Z and Eminem, all while lacing up his skates.

No word on weather he’s written any original rhymes yet, or if he can freestyle, but if this hockey thing doesn’t work out, I’d definitely pay good money to watch him battle.

You’ve Changed

During the final stretch of the team’s 11-day tour of the western United States and Canada, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a revelatory conversation between close friends Matt Martin and Travis Hamonic aboard the team bus.

The two had been chirping one another’s toughness throughout the trip and that day’s debate focused on who’d been in more fights this season and who’d had tougher opponents. Hamonic, of course, has yet to engage in his first career NHL scrap, but has several AHL bouts under his belt. Hammer also contested that summer league fights should count towards his season total. After all, “a fight’s a fight. It’s not like the guy’s not trying to deck you just because it’s summer league.”

That’s when Martin swooped in with a low blow.

“I guess now that you play 20 minutes in a night, you don’t have to fight. You think you’ve already ‘made it.’ You’ve changed.”

Instead of going right back at Martin, like he had all trip, the 20-minute-a-night defenseman instinctively went on the defensive, desperate to negate the notion that he had “changed.”

Martin was in his head.

“I don’t know why, but ‘you’ve changed’ is probably the worst thing you can say to a guy,” said Martin. “What’s so bad about changing?”

Travis Hamonic has changed. (Getty Images)That night in Chicago, Hamonic dropped his gloves on NHL ice for the first time, perhaps still trying to prove that he hadn’t changed. Unfortunately, his efforts only added fuel to the fire, as Hamonic was sent to the box with a double-minor for roughing, still in search of his first NHL fight.