The Islanders dressing room was scarce after a tough 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, and the few players that were there were very solemn. One individual who seemed to be taking it real hard was defenseman Mark Eaton.
When I asked him about the effort, Eaton was pretty much speechless. That is understandable given the current situation. After you lose 12 games in a row, there is only so much more you can say.
Eaton is a very quiet individual, who usually would let his actions do the talking. Many folks from the Pittsburgh Penguins still think of him very highly. General Manager Ray Shero called Eaton a "quiet leader" after learning about him signing with the Islanders.
Eaton spent four seasons with the Penguins, winning a Stanley Cup in 2008-09. The cup win seemed unlikely at one point during that season. With the Penguins struggling, the team fired head coach Michel Therrien on February 15th and replaced him with Dan Bylsma, their AHL coach from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Although this is obviously a team that is on the opposite end of the spectrum than the Penguins, that team also had a number of young players on it and went through a prolonged slump of their own.
Regardless, I had asked Eaton if any of that experience has come in handy after the Islanders fired Scott Gordon, with this young team. "It's come up, but we have to know it's not necessarily the coach. It's the guys in here."
That has basically been somewhat of a company line since Gordon was fired, with Doug Weight echoing those same sentiments early last week. Matt Moulson called out some of his teammates during his post game press conference after the Panthers game.
Eaton added, "We need to look ourselves in the mirror and know that we're not doing the job."
"We cost a guy his job. We need to let that motivate us."
The Islanders don't have much time to try and find some of that motivation, with a 5 PM game today against the Atlanta Thrashers. In some ways, that could be good and bad. It's always been said that it's good to immediately get into the next game after a bad showing the previous night. But, when you haven't won in almost a month, then more of the feelings are going to be that of helplessness.
Now Eaton, and some of the other veterans on this team need to try and find ways not not only bring the best out in themselves, but instill some confidence back into the younger players.
More to come later, including a new podcast after the game today.