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Comrie ready to stash the luggage

by Dan Rosen
Islanders' center Mike Comrie was relieved that he
did not get shipped out of Long Island at the trade
deadline, and ended up resigning with the team.
Mike Comrie video highlights 
Hearing his name associated with trade rumors last month didn't rattle Mike Comrie. The 27-year-old veteran of seven NHL seasons already has been traded three times and played for five teams.

When a player has a history of moving around that much, he knows to keep the duffel bags within reach. Now, though, Comrie wants to make sure they remain empty for at least a little while.

"Coming to this organization, I wasn't sure what it was going to be like, but they treat us very well," Comrie said. "Our coaching staff is a group that makes it enjoyable to come to the rink every day."

So instead of letting Islanders General Manager Garth Snow make a move at the trade deadline he probably didn't want to make anyway, Comrie, who is playing this season on a one-year contract, told Snow he doesn't want to leave New York any time soon.

"Sign me," was the message, and Snow obliged with another one-year contract, which Comrie happily accepted. This type of contract doesn't provide the security some NHL veterans crave, but Comrie's message was enough to convince the Islanders he feels right at home in Uniondale.

"Security works, but in my situation I just wanted to take care of next year before the trade deadline," Comrie said. "I wanted to let them know that I wanted to come back and be a part of this organization."

If he feels the same way next year, Comrie and the Islanders can work out a long-term contract. Until then, he plans to keep doing what he's doing, which has been everything the Islanders had hoped for when they signed him in early July.

Comrie, who was a fourth-line winger for Ottawa during its run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, has turned into the Islanders' top-line center by virtue of the minutes he's playing (about 19 per game) and the points he's scored (49, best on the team).

"This is the chance that he wanted, and he's been a big leader on our team all year," said captain Bill Guerin, who signed with the Islanders on July 5, the same day as Comrie. "He has produced and done everything the Islanders have asked him to do."

Guerin said he talked with Comrie before signing his own two-year contract because he wanted to make sure Comrie was coming to Long Island, too. He was that convinced Comrie would become a top NHL center.

"Mike Comrie has been everything we could have asked of him in his first season as an Islander," Snow said in a statement at the time of Comrie's re-signing. "He's been our top center, on the first unit of our power play. He's also been a great teammate and a first-class pro. We are delighted that he wanted to remain an Islander."

Comrie generally hasn't been associated with that kind of praise from a general manager. Heck, three other GMs felt he was expendable and a fourth didn't want to re-sign him.

"In the NHL it seems that when you see a guy that moves around you sort of question what type of person he is or what type of character he has," Comrie said. "It's just that I've been in a couple different situations."

He spent his first three NHL seasons in his hometown of Edmonton, but eventually was traded after holding out in a contract dispute at the start of the 2003-04 season. The Oilers shipped him to Philadelphia for a prospect and two draft picks.

"In Edmonton," Comrie said, "I just didn't want to play in my hometown."

The Flyers had some goaltending problems and were forced to trade him to Phoenix after 21 games in exchange for a three-player package that included veteran netminder Sean Burke.

When the lockout broke, Comrie returned to Phoenix and put together a 30-goal, 60-point season. The Coyotes, though, were going nowhere last season and wanted to get something in return for Comrie, an impending unrestricted free agent.

The Coyotes dealt him to Ottawa in early January. He recorded 25 points in 41 regular-season games for the Senators, but a nagging shoulder injury limited him in the playoffs. He played in all 20 postseason games and managed six points despite playing in a great deal of pain.

He had to use a local anesthetic to numb his shoulder every day.

"Yeah, that hurt," Comrie said. "Any time you're playing to live the dream of any player in this League and you don't have a chance to be healthy is hard. Freezing it every day to skate wears on you, but you do it."

Comrie doesn't deny the value of his Ottawa experience. It taught him how to mold himself into a team that already was built for a long playoff run.

"I basically changed my game just to fit in," he said. "I never played the wing before and my minutes were used differently. It's something that I realized I needed to do in order to be a part of that group."

He's had to do the exact opposite on Long Island. Instead of being a role player on a pre-built championship contender, he's the Islanders' go-to center.

"Mike is an intelligent player that needs quality minutes to really demonstrate his ability," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "His adjustment period this year was something new. He's a go-to guy now. He's a No. 1 guy, and he's adjusted real well."

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