New York Islanders training camp officially opened Thursday as veterans reported for their annual physicals, headshots and media availability.
Sixty-two skaters were invited to this year’s camp (36 forwards, 20 defensemen and six goalies), marking one of the busiest camps in recent memory.
On-ice drills begin Friday morning and the team’s first preseason games take place on Monday in St. John’s, Newfoundland against the Ottawa Senators. The Isles and Sens will play twice, at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. eastern time (3:00 and 7:30 local time) at Mile One Centre.
Captain John Tavares, leading scorer Kyle Okposo and defenseman Travis Hamonic were all available to the media Thursday. Below are quotes, as well as links to their full media scrums.
John Tavares: We have a lot to prove. Two years ago was great, but it’s been a while since that now and we had a disappointing year. So a lot of us should really be motivated on what went wrong and correcting those things. It’s a fresh start, a new year and I think we’re looking forward to that. Certainly the new guys; we’ve added some great players and some guys who are in the primes of their careers and will make an impact for us. We’re excited about that and it’ll make a big difference for us. Every year is a big year, but knowing how many of us have been around here now, it’s a crucial time for us.
On an emotional year at the Coliseum:
I played my first NHL game here, scored my first NHL goal. It’s a building I’ll never forget for those reasons. I played my first six years here. For us, we’re going to miss it in a lot of ways too. It’s been a way of life for me for that period of time. It’s been good to so many teams in the past, especially the 80’s, we know the connection the fans have to it and the team has to it.
LISTEN TO TAVARES’ FULL SCRUM
Kyle Okposo: We have to perform. The challenge is upon us now. It’s not on [General Manager] Garth Snow, it’s not on [Head Coach] Jack Capuano, it’s on the players, we have to go out there and win games. We have to find a way to win, the time for rebuild is over. We have our guys, we have our core group and we made a lot of good additions over the past couple of years. The time to win is now.
LISTEN TO OKPOSO’S FULL SCRUM
Travis Hamonic: I can say with 100 percent now I’m confident with our defensive core right now and I know that we all have to up our games, but as a team, the whole defensive way I think we’re goning be better this year… There’s going to be a lot of competition for those spots as well, and as I touched on earlier, I think that’s only a good thing, it’s going to drive the competition, and it doesn’t have to end after training camp. It can keep being a friendly competition as the season goes on, and always trying to push each other for ice time and different scenarios on the ice, and that can just lead for everyone’s game getting upped a little bit.
On the final year at Nassau Coliseum:
I’ve really grown to love this old barn, and it’s got a certain feel to it. Quite frankly, we’re here twice a day for I don’t know how many days this season it is, so you get really used to this place, just the smell of it and whatnot, you get accustomed to, so it’s really unfortunate that things couldn’t work out here on the island, and something couldn’t get done, but, man, are we excited to go to Barclays Center. It’s a beautiful facility, you know, you get the chance to tour around and see what it’s like when we play those exhibition games there, and it’s in a great spot, great facility, just beautiful and everything’s first class.
LISTEN TO HAMONIC’S FULL SCRUM