The 2013-14 New York Islanders gathered for one final time this season, as the team held their annual locker clean out and exit interviews. The players held individual meetings with Head Coach Jack Capuano, General Manager Garth Snow and Director of Sport Performance Sean Donellan before addressing the media.
During the successive media scrums, the players addressed injuries, both team and individual performance and their plans for the offseason. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s media session.
Check newyorkislanders.com daily for upcoming videos and features from clean-out day.
Tavares Ready to Start Skating:
John Tavares on his recovery:
I’m feeling really good. I saw the doctor this morning. The good news is I’ll be starting on the ice at some point next week so I’m looking forward to doing that but I’ll start fairly slowly and progression the same as it has been off the ice. I’m looking forward to those next steps and getting much closer to being cleared to play. Things have gone really well and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into my recovery. It’s been hard watching, but I’m looking forward to getting back to being 100 percent.
Season In Review:
The players collectively expressed their disappointment about missing the playoffs, singling out a tough stretch in November, the team’s home record and blown leads .However, the Islanders second-half road record and the inspired play of the call-ups offered hope and inspiration for the 2014-15 season.
Travis Hamonic on the Islanders’ season:
Cappy’s system worked really well at the end of the year... For whatever reason we got away from that at different times throughout the year. - Kyle Okposo
It’s frustrating, we did so many good things in the previous year and we had such a good run. Things didn’t go as planned this year, that’s just how the game goes unfortunately… I don’t want to be standing here next season having this conversation again. That’s a pretty common theme in our locker room.
I don’t think we’re far off at all. I certainly believe in the group we have…It’s not like we were getting blown out this year. We were leading those games against some really good teams that we ended up losing and giving up points. Today we sit here and look back at those points and ask, does it put us in the playoffs? Maybe not, but we would have been playing more meaningful games down the stretch… and maybe putting us in the playoffs.
Kyle Okposo on the Islanders’ strong finish:
[Head coach Jack Capuano]’s system worked really well at the end of the year. We were outplaying teams, outworking them, everybody was playing extremely structured and playing in the framework of our team. For whatever reason we got away from that at different times throughout the year.Nelson Shines in Rookie Assessment:
When asked about the strong play of the Islanders rookies, most veterans dished out extra praise for Brock Nelson, who posted 14 goals and 26 points in his first season. The players were unanimous that the Warroad, MN, native is destined for great things at the NHL level. Stay tuned for an upcoming feature on Nelson, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee.
Brock Nelson on veteran praise:
It's nice to hear the older guys give you pointers here and there or compliments, but it's all kind of just building blocks now and you try to learn from them. They've established themselves and are great players in this league. That's a goal of a lot of young guys, to emulate those guys and get to that level and take the most out of what they teach us.Lubomir Visnovsky Relfects on “Crazy Season”
Lubomir Visnovsky called 2013-14 a “crazy season” and one that was ultimately plagued by injuries. Visnovsky gave credit to the young players for the way they handled big minutes and increased roles. The 37-year-old said he planned on changing his summer program to accommodate his recovery and plans to skate near the end of May.Islanders appreciative of Gallant, Johnson
When asked about some of the feel-good moments of the season, most Islanders singled out the Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium, as well as the stunning 7-4 win against the Vancouver Canucks. However, several Islanders said that some of their top moments were watching tough guys like Brett Gallant and 32-year-old Justin Johnson get an NHL opportunity, after fighting their way up through the minor leagues.
Thomas Hickey on Gallant and Johnson:
[Justin Johnson] has been playing pro for eight, nine or 10 years now and I played with him for three when he was just getting a shot in the AHL. He fought for every minute he got down there, literally, but figuratively too. It's not easy being a really good teammate, but guys like him and Gally do that every night and don't complain. It's a very nice reward that they got, but they’re fully deserving of it.