July 16, 2009

I was there #1

Many of you may wonder what I do with my time when I'm not blogging. I'm glad you asked.

The short answer is that I hang out with Garry Bettman.
That's right, I was one of a select few to witness the NHL's Winter Classic 2010 announcement live and in-person yesterday afternoon. Sure, you could have watched it on NHL.com live. You could have.

I, rather, went there as "press" and was able to watch it all from the comforts of the lower bowl at Fenway Park. I saw such hockey dignitaries as league commissioner Garry Bettman, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. I even got some free Fenway Franks for my trouble. Mmmm... media food...

And yes, Bettman is even more chipmunk-y in person.

But yeah, the exciting part: After the official announcements were all done, all the executives,players, and politicians were all accessible on the infield for interviews, photo ops, and other PR stuff. Without an official announcement concerning *a-hem* a possible NCAA game held on the Fenway ice –– as we've heard in *cough* rumors for months, I had no real story to pursue.

Eventually, while I was scoping out people to talk to, I noticed (Boston) Mayor Thomas Menino gazing absentmindedly into the distance. So I introduced myself, and asked if he knew anything about that rumored Boston University / Boston College hockey game to be played at Fenway this January.

After a few "oh, yeah? Hm, yes, mmhmm, yesh......"s (Mumbles Menino at his finest), he confirmed that yes, there will be a game between the bitter college rivals on Fenway ice, and that an official announcement could come within a few weeks.

This is huge, let me tell you. It makes the Winter Classic so much more important... and I'm not just saying that as a college hockey fan.

The rivalry between the Terriers and the Eagles is far greater than the rivalry between the Flyers and the Bruins. I mean, come on, everyone hates the Flyers. In fact, it surpasses nearly every other rivalry –– in every sport.

And if you've never experienced college hockey, you are severely missing out on totally new take on the game. What an opportunity to become familiar with it! Listen, readers. Promise me you'll find a way to watch this game, when it happens... even if it isn't nationally televised. Promise me!

---

"It's gonna be great fun, huh?"
Indeed, Mayor Menino. Indeed.

July 15, 2009

The Bet: Summer assessment time

The trade deadline has come and gone, the 2009 draft has passed, and all the drama of July 1st –– the onset of the all-important free agency period –– has settled. Teams all around the league have lost and found players special to their causes. Through the turmoil, the Islanders roster remains relatively static, and with the liklihood of any significant changes happening soon, it's time to talk about... yep, you guessed it...

The Bet.
In case you missed the details of my March 3rd wager, you can check out all
the dirt here.

The Bet is, in short, my banking on the hopes that the Islanders will rebound strongly next season. In review:
  • If the Islanders finish top-20 in the league in 2009-10, this shrewd author receives a brand new Islanders jersey.
  • If the Islanders finish below that mark, however, this deadbeat author will unsuccessfully try to back out of buying my critical friend a brand new Sabres jersey.
So let's let everyone make their own assessment of the situation, in terms of roster changes. A quick rundown:

Significant "outs":
Bill Guerin - traded, re-signed with Pittsburgh

Mike Comrie - traded, then left unsigned

Chris Campoli - traded, still on contract in Ottawa

Significant "ins":
John Tavares - drafted, near-lock to make the team

Dwayne Roloson - free agent signing

And then the real deal-breakers... the things that will make-or-break The Bet:

The question marks:
Rick DiPietro - will he be back? Will he be healthy?

Josh Bailey - will his added muscle play to his strengths (har...)?

Kyle Okposo - will his numbers continue to improve to the level the Islanders need?

Sean Bergenheim, Frans Nielsen, Blake Comeau, Bruno Gervais, Jeff Tambellini - will these players mature into the effective and productive players they can be?

Trent Hunter, Doug Weight, Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton - Will these veterans provide what they're capable of and lead the youth to new levels?

~~~

The result of this bet will simply depend on these question marks. But the real thing that will keep me going –– and keep me following the team so closely this year –– is that with such levels of youth on the team, anything can happen. I don't think it's at all absurd to say that, given some real great performances, this team can push for the playoffs sooner than later.

And hey, all they have to do is clinch 20th for me to win this thing!

Thanks for reading.
Comments/thoughts appreciated.

July 7, 2009

Keepin' it Fake I: '90s THROWBACK NIGHT

Keepin' it Fake I
Introducing a new segment on Castaway in which I'll try my darnedest to make you think the Islanders are doing something they're not. I'll be planning full-scale gameday events and offseason promotions with the hopes that it will spark some discussion and get a few laughs.

Today's event:

Go back in time with the Islanders:
The '90s THROWBACK NIGHT!
DISCLAIMER -- I'm fully aware of the Islanders sacrilege I'm about to commit. Please read on:

That's right, dear readers!

Come celebrate a wavy part of your team's history! Break out the ol' teal-navy-orange-white-and-silver's and take a trip to the Coliseum for a Halloween night's timewarp.

---

If you're still reading at this point, thank you. I think this makes much more sense than it seems at first, just hear me out.

This upcoming season marks the ever-unlucky thirteenth anniversary of the introduction of that horrid logo and color redesign that shames Islanders fans to this day. It was a full-on "let's not think" decision, and even though the Fisherman years are gone, I say it's about time the team's new leadership acknowledge the blunder in the best possible way:

By revisiting 1996. On ice. In front of 16,234 fans more than ready to see this thirteen-year curse defiantly broken.

Now, I know what you're going to say: "No way. Never again. Not that nightmare." But is it really that embarrassing anymore? Would seeing the Isles suit up in the Fisherman jerseys really be that much worse than seeing your team in these lovelies?

Here's the spin: A Halloween night at the Coliseum, but instead of skanky Ice Girls in skankier-than-usual costumes and half-assed candy giveaways, the entire night is transformed into a thirteen-year timewarp.

The team can take to the ice (for one last time) sporting the Fisherman jerseys, complete with custom socks and helmets, just like the "good" ol' days.

The simpler things like the scoreboard theme and panel colors can be changed to reflect the ever-so-appealing mix of navy, orange, white, teal, and silver.

Whenever the team hits the ice –– pregame or after intermission, and anytime a goal is scored, the PA will, naturally, play Primus' John The Fisherman, which as it happens, is a pretty badass song for a hockey arena to begin with. Have a listen:

Primus - John the Fisherman


And who can forget the all-important goal foghorn! Somehow captured here in all its tacky glory and without crowd cheering (maybe the place was empty?):

The 1996 NYI Fog Horn - complete!

Getting nostalgic yet?

All this, just for one Halloween night event. This is, of course, hinging on the likelihood the Isles are hosting a game that particular Saturday, but you get my point.

You see, it isn't about having a laugh at our absurd past –– that's only part of it. It's another way to make headlines, sell tickets (yes, money, duh), and if I had a say in it, bring some good to a worthy cause: Preserving the Long Island Sound.

It's as simple as could be. 10% (a totally made up amount; I'm sure there's more to it than picking a round number) of all ticket sales for the night would be donated to "Save the Sound", an accomplished and ambitious program under the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. Check them out here.

That way, in keeping with the ...a-hem... nautical theme of the night, a seriously important resource dear to all Long Islanders can share the spotlight(/shame) and get some donations.

---

To those of you who'll say it's ridiculous, you're right.

To those of you who will argue it's unnecessary to spend the effort, don't forget that anything that will bring the Isles extra income is good for the program as a whole. And if I remember correctly, if a team uses a "4th" jersey on a one-off basis (like when the Isles introduced their '72 retro uniforms once in 2006)they hold the right to sell those jerseys to their hearts' content. Big bucks.

To those of you who will say this kind of shenanigans has no place in the big leagues, lighten up. It's sport. It's about entertainment and fun. And money.

---

For the full tale of the ill-conceived redesign, check out Botta's post from last October.

For a list of achievements by the "Save the Sound" group, click here.


Comments! Let me know how you feel about this. Would you be pumped up for something like this? Or is it yet another fishsticks embarrassment? This one took me a while, so I really appreciate the support.

-Andy

July 1, 2009

Announcing JOHN TAVARES® Mania Month™

JULY is JOHN TAVARES® Mania Month!™ Don't forget to buy any of the convenient season ticket packages! Don't worry, we'll call you and remind you to.
And email you.
Twice, just in case you forget.

JOHN TAVARES® Jerseys also available!

Spend enough money and MAYBE BECOME GRACED WITH THE PRESENCE OF JOHN TAVARES®* and also MAYBE RECEIVE A BLACKBERRY MOBILE MESSAGE FROM JOHN TAVARES®**

*Sometime this summer. Maybe.
**Only for an hour one day at camp. If He® feels like it. Maybe.

Download the OFFICIAL JOHN TAVARES® SONG†

†Not for actual download. Violators will be shunned in the eyes of JOHN TAVARES®.

~~~
Have a fun FA Day, everyone.
-Andy