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An Inside Look at the Team's Future

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

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CJ Papa, Dan Lacroix, Bruno Gervais and Jon Sim
True to their word, the Islanders continued with their goal of making their future plans transparent to their stakeholders - Islanders fans.

Islanders faithful ventured to the Nassau Coliseum for the second RE/MAX Open House this off-season to hear from many top Islanders officials and players about the upcoming draft, scheduled for Friday, June 20 in Ottawa.

Before the formal event began, Bruno Gervais and Jon Sim could be found giving a tour of the locker room to fans while video coordinator Mike LaZazzera offered an inside look at what's involved with watching and editing game video.

Hosting the main event was Islanders arena co-host and TV 10/55 sports director CJ Papa. The night's first speaker was Islanders Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations Chris Dey, who emphasized the importance of Islanders fans as the team sets course on their new programs, including the summer-long Islanders Community Events (I.C.E.) Tour and Youth Initiative.

"The idea of our Youth Initiative and I.C.E. Tour is to get more kids on Long Island playing hockey," said Dey. "We want a goal in every driveway, so look for that tour this summer by checking out the schedule on our website. We've put together calendar events specifically for youth hockey. The Islanders will be coming to every rink on Long Island. The Islanders players will work directly with the players at each rink and the Islanders coaches will work directly with the coaches at the rinks."

Dey went onto to discuss how the Youth Initiative will tie into the 2008-09 Islanders season.

"The Youth Initiative all culminates with the 2008-09 season. Each rink will have an Islanders game dedicated to them. It will be a celebration for your rink with everyone from the rink invited to the game. It will be one big field trip from your rink to the Coliseum. We'll get everyone to celebrate you and the rink. That will happen throughout the season. Plus, we're in the works for getting one Islanders practice during the 2008-09 season at every rink on Long Island. You have Garth and Ted to thank for that."

Chris Dey
Following Dey's enthusiastic and informative speech, Papa directed everyone's attention to the video board. A special Islanders TV produced video, hosted by ESPN's EJ Hradek, highlighted potential Islanders selections in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. With the Islanders choosing fifth overall, there will be some valued prospects in the mix.

The RE/MAX Open House continued with GM Garth Snow and head coach Ted Nolan discussing the upcoming draft along with the future makeup of the team.

Snow and Nolan answered a number of questions, all of which were submitted by fans at the arena.

The Islanders' GM was asked whether he would make his first draft selection based on the best overall talent or the best talent at a given position.

"Whether it's a forward or defenseman, we're looking for the best talent out there," said Snow. "We're going to draft the best available player. It doesn't matter which position."

With Nolan's son Jordan eligible for this year's draft, the proud father was asked to give a scouting report on his son.

"I think he's the best kid in the draft," joked Nolan, but continued seriously. "He's a big kid at 6-4 and he's going to be a pretty good player. He plays with a bit of an edge."

With draft day and the free agency period approaching, Snow was asked what a typical day in the off-season looks like for the Islanders' general manager.

"A good portion of our day is geared to the draft," said Snow. Next week we have the start of our amateur meetings up in Kitchener. That's the first half of our May. At the same time we also have our eye on the ball with free agency starting soon as well."

A fan submitted a question asking what the Islanders' 2008 fifth overall pick needs to show in order to make the Islanders roster out of training camp.

"To be drafted that high you have to be highly skilled," said Nolan. "He definitely has a chance of stepping right in. The biggest thing is if he's ready to play. If he does all the right things and is a guy who would make the fans proud, he could make the team right out of camp."

Following the Snow and Nolan's question and answer session, assistant coach Dan Lacroix and, Gervais and Sim were introduced to the crowd before recounting their draft day experiences.

"I was here at the last Open House and came back because I really like Bruno Gervais," said Emily Valentine, who was here with her aunt Helen Clemens. "I bought a Gervais stick at the last event and now I was able to get it signed. I think he's a good player."

Ted Nolan and Garth Snow
Lacroix, Gervais and Sim also answered fan-submitted questions, prior to Mike Bossy's appearance on stage. The Islanders' legendary goal scorer talked about the next RE/MAX Open House set for June 4 and the Islanders Business Club.

Dey closed out the formal event, which was followed up by a "Meet & Greet" with the special guests.

"We're hockey fans, so we had to come to this," said Ed Wardle from Hewlett. "We liked meeting some of the players and hearing about the plans for the Islanders. My son enjoyed himself on the inflatables and seeing the locker room."

If your question wasn't answered, check back to to see additional answers later this week.

Click here to watch Islanders TV's coverage of the second RE/MAX Open House.

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