For all the changes going on in Casey Cizikas' life this summer, at least having Matt Martin back around feels like a bit of normalcy.
"It's always good to bring back the Mayor of Long Island," Cizikas joked after Tuesday's informal skate at Northwell Health Ice Center.
The return of a best friend and former linemate aside, it's a world of new for Cizikas, both on and off the ice.
Like any of the returning Islanders, Cizikas is prepping to prove himself to new Head Coach Barry Trotz and General Manager Lou Lamoriello when training camp opens. This is the first wholesale management change of Cizikas' hockey career at any level and it added some extra motivation for his offseason training.
"I'm just trying to come in here and prove myself all over again," Cizikas said. "I feel like a rookie coming into his first training camp, so I'm just going to work extremely hard and do what I've done that's gotten me to this point in my career and I'm just going to keep trying to get better."
With Martin back in the fold, Cizikas said he was looking forward to potentially re-uniting with him and Cal Clutterbuck, who formed an effective checking line before Martin's departure two years ago.
That would likely be an easy transition for Cizikas, but a new regime presents an opportunity for a new role. Traditionally, Cizikas has been the team's spark plug, a key penalty killer and face-off man, but that could change or expand with Trotz at the helm. John Tavares' departure also means there are more minutes and responsibilities to be had down the middle.
"You never want to see a guy like that leave, but it gives a lot more opportunity for other guys," Cizikas said. "There's a lot of minutes to be made up there and you just have to do whatever you can to push for it."
As for Trotz, Cizikas said he was excited to play for the reigning Stanley Cup winning coach.
"Success has followed him wherever he's been and last year was a perfect example of that," Cizikas said. "It's definitely going to be fun and we're going to be listening to everything he has to say and everything he wants us to do. Going into the season it'll be exciting."
Cizikas had a new position off the ice this summer, adjusting to life as a new dad. The Isles forward had his first son, Jack, in March, so he spent a summer changing diapers and taking care of the new baby.
"It's something special," Cizikas said. "Words really can't describe what it's like. You go home and it's fun, he's waiting there and has a big smile on his face and you do whatever you can to make him happy."
That being said, sleep is at a premium these days.
"[Kristy and I] tried to remember what it was like before Jack and we couldn't," Cizikas said. "To watch the little guy grow - and I don't know if mature is the right word - but grow as a human, every week, every month it's something new. You think you have one thing figured out and he decides to do something totally different the next. It was a fun summer and I'm just happy I got to spend it with my family and Kristy's as well."