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Staios arrives at camp

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
As an unrestricted free agent this summer, sitting at home when NHL camps began on Friday was something Steve Staios had not planned for. After giving it some thought, the 15-year NHL veteran accepted an invitation to join the Islanders for training camp on a tryout basis and made his camp debut Monday.

“I think there’s only upside here,” Staios said about his decision. “I’m very excited to be here. The process was something different from anything I’ve ever dealt with before. I’ve been under contract and haven’t been a free agent for a long time. So I just tried to wait, see what the possibilities were. I really like this team. I think there’s a lot of depth up front and the goaltending is very solid, so I feel like it’s a good fit for me.”

For someone who’s played 936 career NHL games, making the transition from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference seemed like the right decision.

“The travel schedule (in the Eastern Conference) is more favorable for a veteran player,” Staios said. “To be able to play lots of minutes but still be able to recover. And just overall, I liked the fit. There were other options for me that didn’t make nearly as much sense as coming to the Island.”

The Islanders presented a sense of excitement, which he saw in the lone game the team played in Calgary last season.

“When we played against the Islanders in Calgary, there was a real energy and a real buzz about their team,” Staios said. “We could sense it even before playing them.”

The Islanders went on to defeat the Flames that night, 5-2.

Clearly more experienced than a majority of his teammates, Staios will receive the same opportunity as any of the team’s contracted players.

“The things I’ve heard about him - his leadership, his character, his play - speaks for itself with as many years he’s played in the National Hockey League,” said Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano. “I’m glad to have him here and give him an opportunity to make our hockey team.”

Staios knows that this is just like any other camp, but at the same time, trying to earn a spot on the roster can be more nerve-racking when you’re not under contract.

In the coming weeks, if Islanders management decides he’s a good fit, Staios is prepared to do whatever he’s asked to help make the team succeed.

“I’m going to come in and contribute any way that I can,” Staios said. “As training camp goes on, I think it will become more apparent of where I fit in. To me, I’m here for the team and whatever they need me to do, I’ll be willing to do.”

Barring any injuries or drastic changes to the team’s defensive pairings, Staios has a legitimate shot to stick with the club.

“I have huge expectations for myself,” Staios said. “I’m not doing this to just come in and try to feel myself around. I’m here to play and be a big part of the team.”

Staios may not have dreamed this path to the Islanders, but is excited to be here now as one of the veteran presences ready to help the Islanders to the next level.
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