By Chris Botta
THE DOWNSIDE OF ANGER
It's a week later and the pain has not lessened a bit.
The hurt from the playoff loss to the Sabres is still so deep, I'm experiencing a sensation never felt before. This might be sacrilege to most Islander fans, but I simply do not have it in me to sit in front of the tube for the next week shouting, "Let's Go Buff-a-lo"!
Don't get me wrong: this doesn't mean I'm openly rooting for the Sabres opponent, either. I just can't watch right now. Call it a streak of denial. I took my nephew to see "Spring Awakening" Wednesday night. My father-in-law is in town this weekend from WVA for my oldest kid's First Communion, so that will keep me occupied.
I doubt I could ever properly explain it. Yeah, no one in the hockey world picked the Islanders to do any better than fall in six games, but try telling that to an Islander fan. Maybe that's why there was such an appreciation for Ryan Smyth's words after Game 5.
So much about what went down in the first round loss still pains me. And it's not like the Sabres organization did anything to be the villain. My feelings on the lack of professional conduct by the Buffalo News notwithstanding, the Sabres themselves were first class. My staff had an excellent rapport with the PR staff of the Sabres and Lindy Ruff and his players were mostly first-class throughout.
I guess it's really no deeper than this: when you're on the wrong end of the handshake line after ten days, it's tough to get all warm and fuzzy about the other side a week later. Anyone else feel this way?
What Was Said: "We're not even thinking along those lines right now. Alexei Yashin is a member of the New York Islanders right now. We won't even talk about that." - Garth Snow to Greg Logan of Newsday and Peter Botte of the Daily News.
What It Means: When you are the general manager of a team whose only goal is to win a championship but has just lost in the first round of the playoffs, this is what you say. On Monday, the morning after he said farewell-for-now to his players at a team dinner, Garth Snow was not going to guarantee Alexei's spot on the team five months later - or Miro Satan's or Chris Campoli's or Richard Park's or anyone else's. On April 23, a smart general manager doesn't make promises about anything or anybody. He doesn't show his hand to the other 29 players at the poker table. And he most certainly does not send a message to his team's fans that he is satisfied.
I'd love to see Jeff Tambellini get a long look at the NHL level in 07-08. Jeff got edged out by a deserving Andy HIlbert during the first week of the season, but then look what Tamby did:
* He went to Bridgeport, never sulked, averaged a point a game and improved his play in the D zone.
* Whether he played one minute or a regular shift in his games with the Islanders, the NHL club went 12-3 with Tambellini in the lineup.
* While most of the team was giving our first-year web guy Jason Lockhart the rookie treatment -- okay, it wasn't that bad -- Jeff, like he does everyone, treated JLock with the utmost respect.
And that counts for something in my book. I'm rooting for Tambellini next season.
(my top colleague, media relations coordinator Corey Witt, has a few things he'd like to share)
"We knew Billy Jaffe was a great addition to our FSN NY broadcasting crew, but we weren't able to really appreciate him until this week. Billy has been working as a reporter for the Western Conference Semifinals on Versus, thus giving us the opportunity to watch him with little bias attached on our part.
"Mike Leggo was removed from the NHL officiating rotation for the Conference Semifinal Round and beyond. Hmmm...
"Chris Campoli graced the photo-spread section in Sports Illustrated two weeks ago. The shot was of Campy and Rick DiPietro participating in a post-game victory jump-shoulder bump. When told about this, the second-year D-man said: 'Hey, the photo was probably put in because of Rick, but if that means I'm in Sports Illustrated, then I don't care!' Mama Campoli bought extra copies of the magazine."
THERE'S NO "NO" IN NOLAN
Ted Nolan did not pass on a single interview request Corey or I brought to him all season. That has to be some sort of record for NHL coaches. Now, you might be wondering why this is any big whoop to you. Here's why: the media is the NHL's link to the fans. Without the attention of the press, simply put, no one would know the games were being played. Ted's decision to meet every media request is the coach showing the ultimate respect to the fans. When Nolan agrees to go on "Leafs Lunch" on Toronto radio, he's spreading the Islanders gospel in Canada. When he agrees to let Joe Micheletti broadcast on the Islanders' team bench for NBC, Ted's letting his team's fans get closer. Not that you needed any more reasons to like Ted Nolan.
DEED OF THE WEEK:
Half Hollow Hills Relay for Life
The Half Hollow Hills community will be participating in its first American Cancer Society event called Relay For Life scheduled for June 2-3, 2007. Relay For Life is a community walking together throughout the night to celebrate and honor cancer survivors and remember those lost to cancer. All proceeds from this event will go directly to the American Cancer Society, which uses these funds for research, patient services and advocacy. Any Islanders fans wishing to get involved should click here.
Latest proof these guys are warriors: ARRON ASHAM is having wrist surgery as you read this. I don't seem to recall Ash missing any games this month...
The absence of RADEK MARTINEK was the most underrated loss for the Islanders in the playoffs. The difference a healthy Marty could have made against a fleet-footed Sabres team is understood only by those who follow the Islanders closely and know how good he is...
Nice to see former Islanders radio play-by-play man JOHN WIEDEMAN get the national exposure he so richly deserves. JDub has been calling games for NHL Radio, including last night's game in Anaheim picked up locally by WFAN. John, now with Blackhawks radio, is an amazing hockey play-by-play man whose next step should be a TV gig...
Amazing how history can be re-written between Game 5 of the Islanders-Sabres series and Game 1 of the next round. The Sabres dominate the Rangers, blowing by and through them in the game's final 30 minutes, and now the perception in some parts of the media is Buffalo didn't bring their A game against the Islanders. Please, folks...
Best wishes to LAUREN ANDRICH, top-flight Sponsorships Coordinator and all-around wonderful person, who's leaving us to take a similar gig with the New York Mets. Until Pedro re-joins the rotation, Lauren is the Mets' best recent addition...
And finally, thank you to every fan out there who read Greg Logan's Newsday blog entry on my son Cole and reached out to my family with words of concern. It will never be forgotten.
RYAN SMYTH - There's a reason the North American hockey world entire has a man-crush on Ryan. Because as hard as he works to be a very good hockey player, he somehow manages to pull off being a leader and a gentleman effortlessly.
WADE DUBIELEWICZ - He took his grand moment in the sun and enjoyed every moment of it, just as we all dream about it. Best of all, I don't think we've seen the last of Dubiemania.
TODD ARONOVITCH - A little over a decade ago, the principal of the Rosemary Kennedy BOCES school in Wantagh called the Islanders on behalf of a handicapped student who didn't want to work for anyone else except the New York Islanders. Ten years later, Todd is still out-working us all.
In lieu of a major news event in Islanders Country, VP of Communications Chris Botta is threatening to write this column approximately every other Friday during the offseason