Was there any doubt that Josh Bailey
would remain on the Islanders season? In fact, there was. At least as far as he was concerned.
Considering Bailey missed the season's first 14 games with an injury and played in only one exhibition game, the 2008 draft pick thought his time on Long Island would be short-lived and that he'd return to his Windsor Spitfire club of the OHL.
"I remember sitting in my hotel room while I was out and thinking it's only a matter of time before I go back," Bailey said.
But the 19-year-old Bailey is not going anywhere. He was told he would be staying with the Islanders for the 2008-09 season during the plane ride home from Boston on Friday.
"It's a huge accomplishment to be able to play in the NHL at this age," said Bailey. "I wouldn't have been able to do this without all of the support from people back home, especially my family. Everyone back home was ecstatic and I sent messages to some of my Windsor teammates on Facebook. They're all really supportive. I wish them the best of luck this season and hope they bring home the championship."
Bailey is quick to thank Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, who gave him the opportunity to prove himself to the organization—and Head Coach Scott Gordon, for giving him the chance to play.
"I can't thank Garth, Coach Gordon and the Islanders enough for giving me a chance," said Bailey. "I don't know if I would have had this opportunity anywhere else."
Bailey took advantage of his ice time, contributing not just on the scoresheet, but serving as a playmaker for his linemates. While on the power play, he has played alongside Bill Guerin and Trent Hunter, contributing three assists. At even strength, he's seen time with Hunter and Andy Hilbert. The line has begun to gel, combining for 12 points over the past four games.
"Josh has a lot of skill," said Hunter, who plays on Bailey's right side. "He works really hard and keeps improving every game. He's still very young, but has done a good job make the jump straight from juniors."
With the Islanders down a few forwards due to injuries, Gordon has been relying even more on his young center. In his first NHL game on November 11, Bailey recorded 12:30 of ice time. On Friday––against Boston––Bailey played 19:50, the most of any forward.
"Josh is a mature player, who has done everything right that we've asked him to do," said Gordon. "Josh is a player who makes the players around him better, and those types of players are hard to come by."
Now that Bailey is here to stay, he'll be able to move out of the hotel he's been staying in for the past two months, and plans to move into a house with Bruno Gervais, Kyle Okposo
and Nate Thompson.
Prior to being drafted by the Islanders, Bailey spent the previous three seasons with Windsor and Owen Sound of the OHL. In 191 career OHL games, Bailey scored 58 goals with 125 assists for 183 points. Click here
to purchase tickets to tonight’s game.Click here
to watch Josh Bailey
, Scott Gordon, and Garth Snow speak earlier this season about Bailey’s signing.