By Chris Botta
The Islander's final cuts were made this morning as forward Justin Papineau and defenseman Bruno Gervais were sent to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. The moves brings the Islander's roster down to the maximum 23 -- two goaltenders, 14 forwards and seven defensemen.
With the demotion of Gervais, it appears Chris Campoli and Tomi Pettinen have won the final two spots that were up for grabs on the blue line.
"I spoke with Bruno this morning and I'll tell you what I told him," said Islanders head coach Steve Stirling after practice today. "He didn't lose the job. He did everything he could. If his attitude stays the same it always is with him -- upbeat, you never question his effort -- he'll be fine. Bruno has a future with us."
Stirling also shared the same sentiments with Papineau, who had one goal and one assist in five pre-season games with the Islanders. "You need depth to win in this league," said Stirling. "I'm counting on Paps to go to Bridgeport with the right attitude, help the Sound Tigers win games and be ready when we call him."
With today's news, four first round picks have made the 2005-06 Islanders: Rick DiPietro (2000), Sean Bergenheim (2002), Robert Nilsson (2003) and Petteri Nokelainen (2004).
Notes: Although the rest of the team has been given Saturday off, forward Arron Asham (rib injury) will resume skating tomorrow at Islanders Iceworks and has a goal of being ready for action next week...
D Brad Lukowich (back spasms) sat out today's practice as a precautionary measure...
FSNY play-by-play man Howie Rose, on his way to Shea for the final Mets games of the season, visited practice today and introduced himself to all of the new players and coaches...
The Islanders return to practice on Sunday morning at Nassau Coliseum, a practice that is open exclusively for Islanders season subscribers and includes an open forum with Mike Milbury, on-ice player and coach interviews hosted by radio voice John Wiedeman and other special surprises.