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Bailey not concerned about Islanders lineup

Forward says everybody coming in with 'clean slate' with Tavares gone

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

CARLE PLACE, N.Y. -- Josh Bailey knows he will be playing with a different center when the New York Islanders open the season against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 4.

But it will be a challenge to duplicate the success he had last season with John Tavares, who signed a seven-year contract as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1.

"All of us are kind of in that position right now," said Bailey, who had a career-high 71 points (18 goals, 53 assists) and made the NHL All-Star Game for the first time in 2017-18. "You've got to come in and earn your spot no matter what. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I'm not too concerned about who and where you're playing with and whatnot. I think you've got to go out there and earn it and try and have a good camp.

"It'll be different [without Tavares]. You play with someone for a long time, it's different for sure. But at the same time, it's not something we haven't gone through before. I think there's plenty of guys who were here for a long time that have moved on to other teams. I think we're all used to it in this business. It's not something that really changes a whole lot. We've still got to come in here and still do our jobs. We've still got a great core group of guys, a group of guys that really see eye to eye and get along. It's a fun group to be a part of."

Bailey, who was selected by New York with the No. 9 pick in the 2008 NHL Draft and is its longest-tenured player, admitted it was difficult to see Tavares leave. In the week leading up to July 1, he tried to give the former Islanders captain the time and space he needed to make his decision.

Video: Will Mathew Barzal be able to lead the Islanders?

"I talked to him before [he signed], and you support them no matter what they decide," Bailey said. "He had enough stuff on his plate and I wasn't going to be the guy that was going to try and complicate things even more for him as much as I was hoping he'd come back. It was a pretty crazy week for him. For me, I was just kind of like everyone else, I was just waiting to see what happened."

After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season, the Islanders hired Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations on May 22. Lamoriello fired general manager Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight on June 5, and hired Barry Trotz, who won the Cup with the Washington Capitals last season, as coach on June 21.

"[Trotz] just seems like a really good person, a very knowledgeable guy," Bailey said. "I'm excited to get to work for him, for sure.

"It's going to be different. It's going to be good for a lot of guys, get a fresh start. I think all of us are coming in here with a clean slate. It's going to make camp interesting. It's going to be fun. It's going to be challenging. There's going to be plenty of competition. Every one of us wants to go out there and earn out spot, so we'll see how it all shakes out."

One change Bailey is pleased about is the return of forward Matt Martin, who was acquired from the Maple Leafs for goalie prospect Eamon McAdam on July 3. Martin played his first seven NHL seasons with the Islanders before signing a four-year contract with Toronto on July 1, 2016.

"It's great. It feels like nothing's changed," said Bailey, who attended the Matt Martin Foundation Poker Tournament on Thursday. "Obviously, we played together a long time and a lot of us have known Matt really well. It's just great to have him back. Even his time in Toronto, we definitely didn't lose touch by any means. It feels like nothing's changed."

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