May 17, 2011

Weekend Notes: Grabner, Referendum Vote, Boogaard

I'm a bit late in getting the post that I wanted to out, so I've decided to write one entry that includes some other thoughts from items that happened over the weekend in the NHL.

I'll start off with the re-signing of Michael Grabner.

Those of you who have listened to Sean and myself over the past season may recall us saying that the best thing for the Isles to do with Grabner was to sign him to a one year deal, or even his qualifying offer. Then after that, if he proves that he is no fluke give him the long term extension.

A funny thing happened recently though which changed the thought process and in turn made me 100% support what the Isles did with Grabner here.

That funny thing was last week’s announcement of an August 1st referendum vote for the folks in Nassau County. In numerous spaces, it was written that Charles Wang and Garth Snow could help the future of the team out by investing in it now in order to try and make a statement. This could have been either by re-signing your own players or by bringing in some notable players from the outside.

The Islanders didn't give Grabner his five year, $15 million extension just for the hell of it though. They strategically chose him in order to make the statement on how committed they are to keeping this team here.

Grabner now becomes the only Islander with a contract that extends beyond the current lease (Rick DiPietro is the other). Even if it only extends for one year beyond, it still makes a point.

Getting Grabner at $3 million a season now is actually a fantastic investment because the odds are heavily in his favor that this season was indeed no fluke. As a young lad waiting to be picked in the top part of the first round in 2006, many compared his goal scoring prowess to that of a Mike Bossy. I usually hate when players are compared to Hall of Famers that they have no business of even being in the same sentence as, but in order for scouts to be able to say something as incredulous as that you have to be pretty darn talented.

If Grabner repeated or even exceeded what he did this year and had to be re-signed next year, there is no chance you're getting him at $3 million.

Good job by Snow and Wang to react quickly to the news about the vote and follow it up with the re-signing of a huge fan favorite - but one whom also happens to be really good at hockey.

R.I.P. Derek Boogaard: As a diehard fan of not only the Islanders, but the NHL in general I was shaken by the loss of New York Rangers forward Derek Boogaard over the weekend.

Boogaard was a guy I really liked, and last offseason really hopped the Islanders would take a good long look at. He would ultimately sign with the Rangers (for a deal we both bashed at the time, I might add) but beyond that he was a player who had my respect.

I go back in time when Boogaard first came up. I have also been a fan of the fights, so naturally Boogaard was a guy I enjoyed watching be it live or on YouTube.

It's always going to be tragic no matter the cause of death when you're looking at someone who was 28. But unfortunately, it appears that there’s a decent shot that cause of death may make it all the more heartbreaking.

Reports indicate that Boogaard recently checked into the NHL's substance abuse program. Boogaard had only played 22 games this year after suffering a bad injury after a fight with Matt Carkner of the Ottawa Senators that left him with a bum shoulder and a severe concussion.

Boogaard was in the process of coming back, and had been skating but was a bit out of shape from all of the inactivity. The Rangers had sent him home to Minneapolis to work on his conditioning less than a month ago.

Let's hope this story doesn't get any more tragic than it has to. We send our condolences to the family of a man we respected and always hoped would end up playing for the good guys. He is now for sure in heaven.

Random Playoff Thoughts: While watching the first couple of games of the Eastern and Western Finals, a cool thought popped in my head.

1) How nice would it be to see a Lightning vs. Sharks Stanley Cup Finals? Both teams hooked up for a big trade a couple of years ago when Dan Boyle was sent out to California, and the Lightning are having their success without having the main pieces they got in the deal directly contributing for them.

Those key pieces were moved for others that have come up in a big way, however. Matt Carle was traded in a deal that brought Steve Downie to Tampa, while Ty Wishart was sent to the Isles for Dwayne Roloson.

Funny how some of those deals work out just a few years down the road, isn't it?

2) With the way the East and West finals are set up in the NHL and NBA, it's possible the winning teams from each sport could be named the Lightning and the Thunder.


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