In preparation of the long holiday weekend, businesses across Long Island closed up shop early. July 1 marked the start of a weekend where Americans host barbeques, watch fireworks, let their kids run around with sparklers and wear an inordinate amount of red, white and blue to celebrate the Nation’s independence.
Friday also marks one of the busiest hockey days of the summer for hockey operations and communications departments throughout the National Hockey League. Known as the “Free Agency Frenzy,” teams throughout the NHL dealt players and signed unrestricted free agents for top dollar.
|Marty Reasoner #19 of the Florida Panthers and Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators wait for linesman Ryan Galloway #82 to drop the puck on March 31, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Senators defeated the Panthers 4-1. Click photo to view gallery. |
On Long Island, fans wondered what kind of acquisition Islanders General Manager Garth Snow would make. At approximately 3:15 p.m., those questions were answered as the news of Marty Reasoner
’s two-year contract hit the press wire.
“We’re extremely excited to add Marty to the organization,” Snow said. “He provides leadership. He has great speed that will help us in the offensive zone. He will be relied on in important faceoff situations.”
Snow added, “We didn’t have many holes on our roster going in to this day, but Marty is a player that can help create that competition and produce.”
A veteran of the league, Reasoner was drafted by the St. Louis Blues 14th overall in 1996 and then signed his entry-level contract two years later, making his NHL debut during the 1998-99 season. Three seasons later, he joined the Edmonton Oilers, where he played the majority of the next six seasons and grew into his own. A trade deadline transaction sent the Honeoye, NY native to Boston for the final 19 games of the 2005-06 season.
Then in 2008-09, Reasoner played two seasons for the Atlanta Thrashers before playing all 82 games with the Florida Panthers last season, recording an NHL career-high 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists).
Reasoner, who will enter his 12th NHL season this October, served as an assistant captain several times throughout his career, thus he’s excited and expected to bring leadership to the Islanders young core.
“It’s exciting going to a good young team,” Reasoner said. “Having an opportunity to help this team get to the next level is going to be a good challenge and it’s going to be fun. There is a lot of excitement around the team with so many young guys. They’re on their way. I just want to go in and do my part to help.”
After watching the Islanders play last season, and playing against them in four games, Reasoner watched the Islanders transformation and knows just how talented his new teammates are.
|Marty Reasoner #19 of the Florida Panthers controls the puck under pressure from Chris Campoli #14 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on March 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Panthers 4-0. Click photo to view gallery. |
“I think towards the second half of the season, a lot of people and teams started to notice they were a tough team to play against,” Reasoner said. “We played them in Florida twice during the second half and they had their way with us. They were a tough team to match up against. They are building in the right direction. Hopefully that can translate into a really good start this October so that we’ll have a great year.”
Known as a two-way centerman, Reasoner is also an effective penalty killer, whose faceoff percentage ranks in the top 25 percent of the league, but what he’ll be concentrating on most, is being the player who can fill any role when needed.
“I’m going to come in and work hard on faceoffs, be there on the penalty kill and be solid two-ways, trying to chip in offensively, but really be good defensively,” Reasoner said. “Really for me, it’s just trying to help out in any way that I can, whatever it may be on any given night. As you get older, you try to be as versatile as you can and be able to play in as many situations as you can.”
Overall, Reasoner couldn’t be more happy with his decision to become an Islander.
“I’m good friends with Mike Mottau,” Reasoner said. “I went to school with him (at Boston College) and he has only good things to say about Long Island, so my family is really excited about it. When you talk to guys and they only have good things to say about the direction of the team and how much they enjoy living there, that obviously helps make your decision.”