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Islanders practice fun

by Katrina Doell / New York Islanders
When the Islanders players arrived at the Coliseum for practice this morning they were informed things would be a little different.

“I wanted to keep it light today,” Capuano said. “We had some fun, we drafted some teams in the morning. We did three skill competitions.”

John Tavares and Bruno Gervais were selected as the Captains of the teams and each developed their selection process based upon the competition’s events – rapid fire, speed, a relay and the shoot out.

“It was a big strategy,” Gervais said. “We knew we had to do a lot of skating and some shootouts. Grabner and Katic were my key elements for the skating part. Schremp and Okposo for the shooting.”

Like Gervais, Tavares evaluated the players based on their strengths.

“I tried to pick guys depending on what they bring to the table. PA’s great with the puck, so he was great in the puck relay. Fransie’s great in the shootout and then you have to pick some guys that have some grit, some leadership. Just happy to prevail at the end.”  

Team Tavares beat Team Gervais in the tie breaker in the shootout.

“I thought I put a really good team together, the guys worked really hard but it didn’t go our way.”

Capuano’s intention was for the guys to have fun with it, and they definitely did. Kyle Okposo, known to be a big Harry Potter fan came out of the locker room wearing a handmade nameplate that said “Potter” on the back of his jersey, while Blake Comeau wore a helmet with no outer hard plastic and the name “Weasely” on the back. Matt Martin gave himself a taped on “A” while Zenon Konopka wore a “C” on the right side of his practice jersey. Perhaps the funniest example of embracing the skate was Michael Grabner’s red Flash Gordon underwear.

 “I try to think back as a player,” Capuano said explaining why he thought today’s practice was a good idea. “(Last night) We gave a pretty good effort against a pretty good team. We have a good group of guys here, and I figured they would enjoy something like that. It’s something we haven’t done since I’ve been here. We did the four skills and it went right down to the tie breaker in the shoot out. It was good.”

Rookie defenseman Ty Wishart was the last overall pick, going to Team Orange, but it was no sweat off his back.

“I got a car,” he joked in reference to the NHL All Start draft where Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel was selected last and won a car for the honor. “Mine was a Mazda.”

The Islanders will head to Washington tomorrow, and take on the Capitals again on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center. 

Regarding Monday’s trade deadline, Capuano told Newsday: “From a coaching perspective it’s another day honestly. The players know it’s a business, it’s part of being in the best level in the world, the National Hockey League, and changes take place. They know that. We just try to keep them focused. It really hasn’t even come up in our room, guys aren’t talking about it. So for us it’s just staying focused and getting ready for Washington again.”

Capuano also said that Matt Moulson, Al Montoya, and Andrew MacDonald had the day off for "maintenance." 
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