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POINT BLANK: Ramblings for the Weekend

by Chris Botta / New York Islanders
The day the Islanders were 'Invincible,' Bossy on Milbury, meet the NYI scouts

The true story of "Invincible" Vince Papale and the Islanders

When the Islanders got on their bus to Philadelphia on March 23, Ted Nolan pulled out all the stops. He told his team he wanted them to watch the DVD of "Invincible" starring Mark Wahlberg as Vince Papale, the Philly kid who didn't play organized football at any level but earned a roster spot with the Eagles on an open tryout. But this being Nolan, the DVD viewing wouldn't be all. Thanks to a primary assist from hockey ops ace Kerry Gwydir, Nolan invited the real Papale to join the Islanders at a team dinner that night.

Papale gave a wonderful, inspirational talk and then answered some questions from the players. After Nolan presented Vince and his family with Islanders jerseys, Papale returned the favor. He brought along a bunch of T-shirts he gave to the Eagles' unsung hero of the game when he was Special Teams captain 30 years ago. He thought the Islanders might want to do the same during the run for the playoffs.

When dinner was over, I asked Papale if he wanted to do any press. I thought the PR would be good for potential public speaking business for him. He declined, concerned what the people of Philadelphia would think if they knew he was hanging out with the rival Islanders. But the next day the Islanders won the game and Ted had Vince give his green T-shirt to Andy Hilbert at a joyous locker room celebration. On his way out, Papale – flush with excitement from the Islanders' victory – stopped to do an interview with a local TV station.

I said to Vince, "What happened? I thought you wanted to keep this on the QT"? Wearing his Islanders jersey marked No. 1 with PAPALE on the back, he said, "You know what? Who cares! The Flyers didn't invite me. No other team has. But Ted Nolan and the New York Islanders did. I'm very proud to be a part of this. I've lived a dream life and I've been so blessed but this is right up there with anything my family and I will ever experience."

And then the Islanders proceeded to never give up, making the playoffs on the last day of the season behind the heroics of an undrafted goaltender thought too small to make it to the NHL.


Mike Bossy on Mike Milbury

With Mike Milbury leaving his full-time role this week, I asked Mike Bossy to send me an email on his experience with Milbury. Bossy forwarded the following on Wednesday night:

"I'm sad to see Mike Milbury leave his role with the team. If it were not for Mike I probably wouldn't be with the organization today. When I went to New York in March of 2006 for the Stanley Cup celebration I really didn't know what to expect. Ok, I knew the Islanders were going to celebrate our Stanley Cup-winning team but this time was a little different. I was told that Mike and Charles Wang wanted to meet with me. I had no idea what that meeting was to be about and had not raised my hopes of any special expectations.

"I met with Charles the morning of the celebration and had a very nice conversation about the team, what I was doing in Montreal and what plans I had for the future. That night during the game I had a 20-minute conversation with Mike Milbury. I wasn't talking to Mike the GM but to the Mike who had great plans for the Islanders in his new role in the front office.

"We decided that night that whatever I had said about him as GM during my numerous radio interviews was forgotten and that whatever miscommunication there had been between the Islanders and I was forgotten. We decided to close the book on prior dealings and start a brand new relationship. After several months of attempting to secure a visa for me, I received a call informing me that my visa was approved. My relationship with Mike Milbury actually started that day.

"Things were very clear to me from the start. Mike wanted things to be done properly and professionally. He wanted sponsors to be treated with respect and wanted all ticket holders to enjoy their experience at the Coliseum. He always wanted to make sure we delivered on every promise to our fans. I saw Mike in the parking lot moving barriers because they weren't in the right place. I saw him moving tables on the concourse because they were getting in the way of fans. I saw him being a great boss and having a great relationship with his employees.

"You see, the Mike Milbury I got to know was not what I expected. I truly believe that Mike the GM was the same as Mike the VP. Passionate, hard-working and always wanting to make the right decision. Sometimes in life we make decisions based on the climate at the time. I'm sure if you were to sit down with Mike today he may want to reverse a couple of the trades he made back when he was GM but those days are gone. Mike is turning the page and starting a new chapter for himself. I wish him only the best of luck."

Mike Bossy
May 30, 2007



While the Islanders were very aggressive in signing stud D prospect Dustin Kohn, sources tell Point Blank it's unlikely the team will extend a contract offer to 2004 fourth round pick WES O'NEILL. The defenseman finished his senior year at Notre Dame, but was 3-18-21 in 42 games this season after going 6-19-25 in 35 games his junior year. Consider the Islanders' decision just the latest example of how much the NHL has become a skater's game in the three years since the team drafted O'Neill.

While this decision may be met with some criticism in certain corners of Islanders Country, it reminds us of the week in July, 2000 when the Islanders opted not to offer a contract to 1998 second round pick Chris Nielsen and traded him to Columbus for a fourth round pick. Boy, did we get some unfriendly emails that day. The Islanders then traded the fourth round pick to Anaheim for a former draft choice the Ducks had little interest in signing. Chris Nielsen played the 2005-06 season in the German League and is now retired from pro hockey. The prospect the Islanders acquired from Anaheim was Trent Hunter.

Chris Drury

What Was Said: "The decision you make with respect to long-term contracts can really kill you if you make a bad one. It used to be if you made a mistake on a contract, you would trade the player to the Rangers, and your problem would go away. You can't do that anymore." – Sabres President Larry Quinn on managing the salary cap.

What It Means: The price of keeping Chris Drury just went up. As if the Rangers needed any more motivation to sign the unrestricted free agent from Connecticut, this gratuitous cheap shot puts it over the top. Mr. Quinn should know better: only Islanders personnel can take verbal runs at the Rangers, and vice versa. The Sabres need to stick to sparring with the Leafs.


Meet the NYI scouts

As you may have heard, there was a major overhaul of the Islanders' scouting staff when Garth Snow took over as GM last July. The reason for the change was the major shift in NHL economics: with players becoming unrestricted free agents at the early age of 27, it's fair to say that at least 75% of a team's payroll will be spent on players acquired in trades and free agent signings. Nevertheless, the draft is still an important part of the operation – the "lifeblood," as Billl Torrey liked to call it back in the days when you could draft Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies 45 minutes apart.

Thanks to an email tutorial from assistant GM Ryan Jankowski, here are the players on the Islanders' scouting staff:

Tony Feltrin
– Jankowski's right and left-hand man at the draft table and one of the most respected amateur scouts in the game. Based in Vancouver, Feltrin focuses on the Northwest division and Western Hockey League when not taking in the big tournaments in Europe.

KEN MORROW – Snow's top man on the pro side, the 4-time Cup winner also has some input at the draft because of his knowledge of the USHL.

CHRIS O'SULLIVAN – An emerging voice on the staff, the New England-based former NHL dman covers a big chunk of the AHL and collegiate ranks while also taking in as many high school games as he can.

ROB COWIE – Based in Phoenix, Cowie is all over the Pacific Division and keeps an eye on AHL teams west of the Mississippi.

JAD RAMSEY – Takes care of the Southeast Division while commuting from his Tampa home.

(Is it me, or do Cowie and Ramsey sound like they've got the world on a string?)

MARIO SARACENO – Continues the legacy of his dad Henri, who scouted Mike Bossy. Out of Montreal and well into his third decade with the Islanders despite looking about 39, Mario scouts the pros in Eastern Canada and has input at the draft on kids from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

TOBY O'BRIEN – Works with Snow in stocking depth for Bridgeport, taking in every AHL and ECHL game in search of an unearthed gem.

VELLU KAUTONEN – Leads the European scouting staff, watching amateur draft prospects and also monitoring the development of Islanders prospects such as Stefan Ridderwall, Jesse Joensuu and Sean Bergenheim. Kautonen is joined by...

ANDERS KALLUR – Sweden: the dynasty member turned longtime scout remains a major voice on draft prospects and free agents in Europe. Jankowski calls Andy "the gentleman of hockey."

KAREK PAVLIK – Czech Republic


According to Jankowski, the following men – all first-year Islanders – "are the eyes and ears of our amateur side in their respective areas":

TIM MacLEAN – Ontario

MARC LEBLANC – Maritimes

JIM HILLMAN – Minnesota


AL MacPHERSON – Western Canada 

Jankowski estimates the staff scouted close to 2,100 games over the last year. He defines their mission as "looking for the free agent that will make a difference tomorrow in the Islanders lineup and preparing for draft day as we stock the Islanders' future."

The assistant GM says scouting is "lots of hard work, road trips, time away from young families to build a hockey team that some of our scouts never even get to see play." And what fuels such a sacrifice? Writes Jankowski: "The passion inside every one of us to be an Islander and help bring the Stanley Cup back to Long Island."


The Smile Train

Co-founded by Long Islanders Charles Wang and Brian Mullaney, The Smile Train is one of the most remarkable charities I know. The organization has a singular focus: providing free cleft surgery for poor children in developing countries. Thanks to the Smile Train and the training they provide for doctors, these surgeries cost as little as $250 each.

But what's truly special about The Smile Train is that 100% of every donation is used for programs. Unlike the majority of charities out there, The Smile Train does not spend even a penny of your contributions on administrative costs. Since 2000, they have provided free cleft surgery for 229,340 children.

To get involved with The Smile Train at any level, please go to

Mark Parrish

Fiona Quick of the Minnesota Hockey Journal recently ranted on my boy Mark Parrish. Seems Mark said in a radio interview he didn't join Team USA at the Worlds because all the American players were younger than him, he wouldn't have anyone to roll with and he doesn't like to hang in Russia. Parry really needs to lose this awful habit of saying exactly what's on his mind all the time. Islanders fans may recall the time in 2000-01 when he told them to stay home if they were going to boo. We finished in 30th place that season.

Mark happens to be one of the most decent people around, a guy you'd be proud to have as a friend. He just needs to draw the line sometimes between good ol' boy sincerity and coming off as a dope who's forgotten where he came from.

My recommendation to athletes and coaches with this affliction is to listen to Joe Torre's weekly stint with on WFAN. When it comes to dealing with tough questions from the media, Torre puts on a master class. For those 15 minutes a week from April to October, Torre shows how he's managed to stay in the Bronx for more than a decade. (Please note: this was written on Thursday, May 31 and may seem dated by the time you read this).

My invaluable associate Corey Witt chimes in with a few thoughts:

"In case anyone is counting, it's been confirmed by the Elias Sports Bureau that the Islanders have 1,188 regular season franchise victories in their 35 seasons of play. Who says games in October don't matter?

"Howie Rose is one of the most underrated in the business and here's why. On Sunday, May 20th, David Wright hit a very long home run to left-center field. Without missing a beat, Rose called it: ‘David Wright almost hit the first home run in the history of Citi Field'! Vintage Howie.

"ben-ti-VO-lee-oh...That's how the Islanders newest left wing prospect pronounces his last name, we think.

"Best quote of the playoffs came from Ducks D Francois Beauchemin after Chris Pronger returned from a one-game suspension in the conference final: ‘We'll make some room for him.'

"The owners of the NFL are discussing shortening the time allotted to teams during the first round of the draft from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. The NHL meanwhile is happy with the five minutes given to their teams during the draft. Although, maybe if Chris Berman was hosting the NHL draft show, he might need the full 15 minutes to cleverly stumble through some of the European names like Alexei Cherepanov (1st ranked European), Eetu Poysti (25th ), and Etienne Froidevaux (29th). But that would be worth the wait."


Kevin Connolly

Wishing these sequels would be ogre

Drive by the movie theatres in Long Beach, Merrick, Rockville Centre, Bayside and even lovely Greenport this week and their marquees all say the same thing: "Shrek 3," "Pirates 3" and "Spiderman 3." Now I don't mean to be a snob – I liked the originals and some of the first sequels – but is anyone else out there depressed about the dearth of original thought in La La Land? And who's the genius who decided it would be a good idea to produce a fun pirate movie for the whole family...and make it longer than "Godfather II"?

We all have some things in pop culture we hold especially close because they are ours. They are not iconic like "Star Wars" or "Wicked" or my guy Springsteen, but rather small stuff we see as our own little secret. These days, here's what I would want to share with friends. After you've seen the threequels, this play, TV show, song and movie might be a welcomed change of pace.

"JOURNEY'S END" on Broadway – It will close on June 10 because a play about English soldiers in France during World War I is not going to move a lot of tickets. But it is moving a lot of people. Go on and snag great seats to a real Broadway play with incredible actors for just $35.

"ENTOURAGE" on HBO – I like the little show after "The Sopranos" for the same reason I had such a deep appreciation for how Dubie relished every moment of his first 15 minutes of fame. If one of my boys from Hicksville made it big, this is exactly how I picture it (except for the frolicking, of course). If that's not enough to give up 22 minutes a week to watch "Entourage," consider this: Kevin Connolly, who plays E, is a true Islanders fan. Every time he comes to the Coliseum, he doesn't leave without a new NYI T-shirt to wear on the show.

"IF THIS IS GOODBYE" by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris – The virtuoso guitarist of Dire Straits and perhaps the greatest living female harmony singer team up for a song of loss on 9/11. Get it on iTunes and if you don't think it's worthy of regular rotation, I'll refund your 99 cents.

"FRACTURE" at the movies – At best a 3-star flick, but a fun game of cat-and-mouse between weathered Anthony Hopkins and brooding young Ryan Gosling, two of the best actors of their generations. How good is Gosling? He apparently has to ponder whether to spend the rest of his life with Rachel McAdams.


One-on-one with EKLUND, the king of all hockey bloggers

The season before the lockout, a young man had an idea with a few of his buddies to do a hockey rumors chatroom and blog – years before blogs took over the world. He had a job with endless travel and a wife and young daughter he didn't see enough of. Three years later, the man known to thousands of hockey fans on as Eklund had become so successful that SportsNet in Canada had him on their trade deadline show as an official expert.

I'm fascinated by Eklund. I don't believe he has broken even a fraction of the stories he is given credit for by his legion of followers. Ek tells me I'm being unfair, but I believe he has also taken some credit for scoops he didn't break. He also comes up with some real goofy stuff that could endanger his cred. This week he has your Islanders getting Marek Svatos in a sign-and-trade with Colorado. (Hey Garth, will you PLEASE keep me in the loop?!)

Regardless, I marvel at Eklund's success story and he has always come off as such a decent chap that I can't help but be happy for him. I asked him if he was up for a little email Q & A. Eklund told me to bring it on.

CB: For starters, where is the "Batcave" where these hockey rumors emerge? Where do you work out of and do you have a staff?

The "Ekcave" is in rural Pennsylvania, Northeast of Philadelphia.  And yes, when I get up I pull a copy of a Stan Fischler book in my library and a spinning door whisks me to a foggy room with computers and various flashing lights. In all seriousness, I do have a small staff, but we all work out of our homes and thanks to Skype and IM we communicate throughout the day.

CB: How did you get started?

My friends in and around hockey and I had a chatroom during the lockout where we talked about our frustration of missing hockey, the foolishness going on and everything else. One day I suggested we create a blog on blogspot where we could put our thoughts out. We would have to do it anonymously of course because some of the folks were literally risking their jobs by going against the spin. I suggested we use the anonymous name "Eklund." I had been posting on and off on a Flyers fan message board for a few years with that name and I thought it would be the perfect guise for the group. They decided that since I had interviewing experience that I would become the voice of Eklund.

It was a crazy time, but it was a real testament to the power of hope in times of darkness. We never publicized it but within a few weeks we had 100,000 people reading it, and more and more of hockey's "good people" started coming out of the woodworks. What started as 30, grew to 50, then 100, then almost 300. That is where many of the contacts I have today were born.

When the lockout ended I had every intention of just going back to normal, but we decided we should see if we could continue the same positive type of hockey stuff into a website. I took over Eklund postings by myself, and some of the chatters got blogs, while others stayed anonymous and went back to their hockey jobs.

CB: Do you have another job? Do you make a living off being Eklund?

I do have another job, although sometimes it doesn't feel that way...:)  Hockeybuzz is like most startups. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it has taken a looong time to get there. I spend more on server costs per month than I do on my mortgage, and if I travel, I foot that bill as well. I feel pretty safe that I and many others will soon be making a living on hockeybuzz, but we aren't yet. However, advertising is finally starting to come together, and that is huge. We are approaching 2 million unique people who visit the site, and get between 6 million and 12 million page views per month. So we SHOULD be making money they tell me, lol. But we have some typical startup debt and startup mistakes that we are still paying for. It is not uncommon and if I didn't REALLY enjoy it and want to see the people associated with it succeed I would never have continued last year when things got shaky.

CB: Rumors about you include that you are tight with high level people at the Flyers and you have the backing of a major player in the NHL office in New York. Care to confirm or deny?

I never name names or specific franchises. That is just my "thing" and it continues to enable me to get some better rumors and therefore get some better discussions going. If you knew who I was or who I am talking to you I wouldn't get these rumors. There are people who have a problem with that, and I understand their arguments. Hockey people love to talk about this player or fantasize about that player pulling on their team's sweater. But it is not as if I am throwing out anything that is done or professing it to be done in 99.9% of the cases. Blogging is still finding its legs and the rules are hazy, so I have had to sort of set my own rules. One example is that I have never put out a rumor about a coach or GM getting fired. To not use a source or my real name and claim that a guy is rumored to be fired would be very wrong in my book. The only times I have broken a firing was after it was done and I just happened to be the first to report it.

I am close with quite a few people at quite a few teams, and the NHL has been amazing to me and the site, probably because they get that we try and not take the easy way out in sports which is through something negative out there people can complain about. That is the cornerstone of talk radio, but I have always told everyone working here that if I catch them doing that they're gone.

CB: How do you balance the line of getting good scoops and feeling like maybe you are being used?

Eklund: With the exception of very few sources, I don't FEEL I am being used. I KNOW I am being used. And it doesn't bother me, because it is guys doing their jobs. Why would someone tell someone else anything that isn't widely known unless they wanted something from me?  Now you hear something and you have to then go and figure out the agenda. Some people are more agenda-driven than others.

CB: Your star rose when you were asked to go mainstream and serve as a commentator on Sportsnet during the trade deadline. But things did not go superbly. Many of your scoops did not pan out, including your report of Edmonton signing Ryan Smyth. The Toronto Globe & Mail was very critical. How do you look back on the experience? In hindsight, were you ready for prime time?

Eklund: It is never bad to put yourself to the ultimate challenge in a foreign country, lol. It was a great experience for me and the perfect example of why you should always do what you do best. The nature of what I do is rumors. I do "break" a few here and there, but that is easier to do on days that aren't trade deadline days. At Sportsnet I was going up against a machine in TSN of people whom I respect and are very connected. Leading up to the actual day I broke several trades before TSN or Sportsnet – Forsberg to Nashville, Tkachuk to Atlanta, Smolinski to Vancouver, Zednik to the Isles. I was feeling a bit cocky going into deadline day about breaking trades.

When the actual deadline day hit, I was going up against a focused army at TSN who were sure as hell not going to let Sportsnet and an American kid beat them. I lost a bit of my focus and tried to break trades instead of just posting rumors. My competitive nature, I suppose.  I would get text messages from players I know telling me they just left the GM's office and I would tell them, "Yeah, it went up on TSN ten minutes ago." Tough to beat that. As the day went on it was apparent that I alone couldn't compete, so when I got a call from a source out of Edmonton that Smyth had re-signed I was tempted to put it out hoping to beat TSN. The irony is I did wait 45 minutes until I heard the same story out of three different radio stations in Canada. Then I went with it and I was obviously wrong. I was used by a source that had always been trusted, but he used me and I won't get too much further into that because it gets far worse than I will publicly air.

CB: Was the appearance a step back for you? Don't you feel it hurt your credibility?

It allowed me to re-focus on just rumors and try to play my game again. I said, "OK, there are ten of them and one of me." And in hunting down what went wrong with the Ryan Smyth rumor I stumbled upon the fact that the Islanders and another team were getting close to grabbing him. I had the Ryan Smyth trade about ten minutes prior to putting it up on my website and reported on Sportsnet that a big Edmonton deal was coming that would be the trade of the day. That was a long time before anyone else was saying that. Then right around the deadline I was holding off putting it up on my website because Sportsnet was at a break and I knew the second I posted it TSN would beat us. That was a long few minutes. Then as I was doing my live report of the trade on Sportsnet an Islanders fan in our chatroom wrote that Greg Logan had just blogged the trade on You can imagine how relieved I was to hear that. 

As I left Sportsnet I was embarrassed, but they were thrilled with me because we beat TSN by twenty minutes on the Ryan Smyth trade and in Canada that trade was all that really mattered. I remember joking with them, "Well, I figured if I reported Smyth signed and was traded I would cover all my bases." It just shows you that this isn't a science, and how if you forget it isn't just really a fun day you are going to miss what the day is all about.

CB: You are an amazing success story. What's "the next level" for you?
Eklund: Thanks. That's very kind for you, but I feel as if we can do much better. I have some fun ideas. I am doing a hockey show TV pilot for Comcast with complete creative control that I think will be very different and entertaining. But as a wise man once said to me, "You never run out of ideas, you only run out of time and money."

How the 2006-07 Islanders fared before the home crowds at the NVMC:

RK Player GP G A PTS
1 JASON BLAKE 41 25 12 37
2 MIKE SILLINGER 41 15 17 32
3 ALEXEI YASHIN 29 10 17 27
4 TOM POTI 40 2 22 24
5 MIROSLAV SATAN 41 8 15 23
6 VIKTOR KOZLOV 40 8 9 17
7 TRENT HUNTER 37 9 6 15
8 ARRON ASHAM 41 7 7 14
9 ANDY HILBERT 41 5 9 14
10 SEAN HILL 41 1 12 13
11 RICHARD PARK 41 2 10 12
12 CHRIS SIMON 34 5 5 10
13 RADEK MARTINEK 21 1 7 8
15 SHAWN BATES 25 4 3 7
16 BRENDAN WITT 40 0 6 6
17 CHRIS CAMPOLI 25 0 5 5
18 RYAN SMYTH 9 1 4 5


Know this about DON MALONEY: he has as much class and integrity as anyone in the game. Of his time here, he openly admits he wasn't ready for it and regrets not trading Sneaky Pete Turgeon, but trading him for phony Kirk Muller. Now that Don's 3,000 miles away and in other conference, it will be a lot easier to root for him...

Oleg Kvasha
Can't help but think the beginning of the end for the departed Coyotes management was when, in March of 2006 and nowhere near the playoff hunt, Phoenix traded a third round pick for soon-to-be free agent OLEG KVASHA, who didn't play in the NHL this season...

On Monday our DRAGONS AFL team played in New Orleans on ESPN2. The same night, Stanley Cup Final Game 1 was played before a potentially smaller audience on VERSUS. Good for the AFL, not for hockey. Prediction: sometime in the next few years, the NHL will find a way to work out deals with both ESPN and VS...

Got more than a few nasty emails from Rangers fans about my item two weeks ago on SEAN AVERY getting Belichicked by the Sabres. Can't say the Blueshirt faithful aren't passionate. Many of them loiter daily on Logan's blog during the season, and now I guess they're clicking on in mid-May for all the news that's fit to print on Sean Bentivoglio. Rangers fans are welcome here anytime. I received one email from a pal of Sean's pointing out he shared a warm hug with longtime friend and junior teammate Adam Mair. My apologies for the slight...

Islanders game ops maestro TIM BEACH showed me this website where you can look up the No. 1 song in the country the day you were born. I was so afraid it was going to be some dorky song by the Fifth Dimension. Thankfully, the No. 1 song when I was born was "Get Off of My Cloud" by the Rolling Stones...

Instead of complaining about the drop-off in hockey coverage in the U.S. newspapers, I would like to salute the sports editors of the following newspapers that dispatched reporters to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final: USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News and Los Angeles Times...

About A-ROD: Did that photographer just happen to stumble upon him and his friend in Toronto, or did someone make a phone call to the Post? Expect the Daily News to be all over this side of the story...

When the Islanders are leading contenders heading into the playoffs and someone insists we have one of those 16-win countdown banners in the Coliseum, count me as one of those dead-set against it. The Sabres posted a huge banner in the endzone of the HSBC this spring counting down the 16 wins until they won the Stanley Cup. Wasn't a big fan of it when we were there in April, think it looks even sillier now. Proponents of the showboating measure might tell you it's a good way to "visualize" success. The Ottawa Senators – 3-for-3 in Buffalo – might tell you they found it inspiring. Biggest problem with those countdown banners: they don't come with a reset button...

I'm so concerned for KOBE right now, I have no idea how I'm going to enjoy my vacation...

There's a school of thought that if my Yanks continue to tank, the silver lining will be more space in October in the papers for hockey coverage. To which I reply...uh, no. The possible decline of the Yankees will be a bigger story in October than a wild card round loss to the Tigers.



MIKE MILBURY – When he could have been selfish and made a last-ditch attempt at a fourth straight playoff berth in 2006, the out-going GM traded Parrish for solid assets for his successor: Denis Grebeshkov (who became Marc-Andre Bergeron and a third pick), Jeff Tambellini and a third round pick.

BRIAN LEETCH – A magnificent player and graceful person. Don't know even a single Islanders fan with a bad thing to say about the guy. First ballot Hall of Famer, first-class citizen of New York.

SEAN BERGENHEIM – Bergy's known for reading everything on the web, so here's a shout-out to let him know we really want to see him in Moncton in September.

As he awaits the Islanders' third round pick – that is, if they don't move up in the draft – Islanders VP Communications CHRIS BOTTA is writing this column approximately every other week in the offseason so his colleagues can't accuse him of spending too much time on the Internet.
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