|Ted Nolan |
Just days before the Islanders arrived in New Brunswick, a tragedy occurred in the picturesque city of Moncton. Four local high school kids were killed in a head-on car accident, shocking the town to its core. It was another blow to Harrison Trimble High School, which had lost another student just a few months prior. Satara Stevens was struck and killed by a truck on July 27.
When Islanders head coach Ted Nolan heard of the passing of students Corey Doucet, Jimmy Dunphy, Brandon Hupman and Jared Storey, he knew immediately that he wanted to do something for the students of Harrison Trimble High School.
On Wednesday, just hours before the Islanders' exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens, Nolan spoke to the students of Trimble High in their auditorium.
Choked up to begin his speech, Nolan discussed how welcomed he felt returning to the city that gave him another chance to coach the sport he loves.
The Islanders' head coach continued by speaking of the tragedy of losing his father suddenly, at age 14, and his mother, who was killed by a drunk driver, when Nolan was 21. Through these heartbreaks, Nolan said he grappled with faith, but it was renewed in time.
"I always tell kids about my first pair of skates that were size 10. I had size 3 feet," said Nolan. "I still remember putting rubber boots on inside of those big skates – they were like skis – and skating on rivers and ponds, and having this crazy dream of about some being in the National Hockey League.
"Fifteen years later I had a chance to play with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. I would never have been able to do it without faith."
However, it wasn't all smiles for Nolan, not having his parents there to see him.
"I look up in the stands all the time. Every game that I played, or every game that I've coached, and say, they have the best seats in the world."
"Your friends are probably watching over you from the best seats. Never forget them, enjoy your lives, but never forget."
I've witnessed firsthand what Ted has done on Long Island in the community, but now I'm getting a better idea of what he means to the community of Moncton.
I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride to Tim Horton's 4 Ice Centre this morning from none other than Bill Schurman, who was the general manager of the Moncton Wildcats when Ted was the head coach. On the ten minute ride to the Ice Centre, Mr. Schurman did nothing but rave about Ted and what he did for Moncton in the one year he was here.
"There are some coaches who come here and just do the bear minimum, when it comes to the community," said the former Wildcats GM, now the Director of Community Services for the city of Summerside on Prince Edward Island. "Teddy came to Moncton and embraced the city. He was in the community whenever he had the chance."
Mr. Schurman noted that last year the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Montreal Canadiens in Moncton for a preseason game, and the Moncton Coliseum wasn't nearly at capacity. That wasn't the case last night, when the Coliseum was filled to capacity to see the Islanders and Montreal.
"Don't be fooled by the pro-Montreal crowd," said Mr. Schurman. "This is Montreal country, but the reason the place was filled last night was to support Ted. He always supported the city, and this was a way for people to re-pay him for that."MEMOS FROM MONCTON
* Most of the players had today off. The lone skaters were those participating in tonight's 7 pm matchup against the University of Moncton. The University of New Brunswick – the last school the Islanders rookies played – defeated Moncton on their way to the National Title.
* Here is a follow-up to the story about the Islanders’ "biggest fan," whom Ken Morrow and Bryan Trottier met in St. John’s Newfoundland. The beauty of the internet is that word travels fast. Less than a day after the story was first posted on newyorkislanders.com, the “biggest fan,” Darrell Peddle, himself, e-mailed Kenny and Bryan to thank him for the note on the website. Darrell wished the team all the best and hopes to get down to a game on Long Island.
Here is tonight's lineup.Goaltenders
1 Maxime Ouellet
30 Mike MoleDefensemen
62 Jamie Fraser – 70 Simon Lacroix
56 Dustin Kohn – 68 Jordan Hart
49 Drew Fata – 61 Martin FrechetteForward
67 Sean Bentivoglio – 50 Tomas Marcinko
– 52 Tyler Haskins
77 Trevor Smith – 65 Chris Gaudet – 58 Masi Marjamaki
53 Max Gratchev – 59 Derek Damon – 40 Justin Bourne
48 Steve Regier – 38 Marc Cavosie – 42 Jason Pitton
* Interesting fact of the day: Chatting with Mike Sillinger, I discovered that he had quite a fascinating line in his debut with the Red Wings. Centering him was Steve Yzerman and on his other wing was Islanders assistant head coach Gerard Gallant.
* For more scoops and insights from Training Camp check out these blogs from the Islanders PR department
* You can also find more coverage of Training Camp at www.soundtigers.com