July 26, 2010

Monday Musings and Matt Moulson

It seems like there has been no offseason at all this summer.

Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but as far as the Islanders are concerned it seems like a new story pops up every few days.

Last week, the big story was MSG Network electing not to renew the contract of beloved color commentator Billy Jaffe. Many fans have not taken kindly to the news that Jaffe will not be returning for a 5th season as an analyst.

What makes the story even worse, however, is the report out of Islanders' Point Blank, which was confirmed by Newsday that the move was not done by MSG, but rather the Islanders. While Jaffe's contract was with MSG, it is believed that the Islanders' had a say on who they wanted behind the mics. Reports indicate that they felt Jaffe was not positive enough in his analysis of the team, and thus rejected the contract that MSG agreed to with Jaffe.

Obviously, this shouldn't matter too much because it doesn't affect the Islanders play on the ice. As a matter of fact, none of the front office moves that the team made will do anything to affect that, at least for the time being. But the fact of the matter is that fans enjoyed watching Howie and Billy work together on the broadcasts, and enjoyed all of the insight that Jaffe provided. You could tell he had a mind like a coach, and I personally loved it the most when he would explain and diagram plays. One of the best things about him was that he told it like it was, good or bad. Many teams have a biased broadcasting team. I never had that feeling while watching the Isles, and I enjoyed it. It's not like Jaffe was telling us something we didn't know.

The last three years, the Islanders finished 26th, 30th and 26th. I thought Jaffe was more than positive given the circumstances. His analysis was so good, that he was a regular on the VERSUS telecasts and makes regular appearances on NHL Live.

Fortunately, the replacement will be someone the fans are quite familiar with. The front-runners appear to be current MSG hockey analyst Butch Goring or Islanders legend and former Florida Panthers TV analyst Denis Potvin. Both are fine, but neither will provide the level of analysis as Jaffe would have. But again, it's not like the fans need someone to spell out the good and the bad for them.

Personally, I think a dark horse like Chris King could be a good choice. I've always liked the work he did on the radio broadcasts. Maybe this is the time for him to finally get his shot after being demoted of sorts last season when the Islanders opted to simulcast their TV broadcasts on the radio. We'll see.

Sean and I had received an e-mail about Jaffe not being renewed on Thursday afternoon, and only reported it on NYI FYI's Facebook and Twitter accounts. We had put out e-mails to a couple of contacts, only getting one response back saying that they weren't able to report on anything. We completely understood that and didn't want to run with anything false. Sean and I like it when you guys e-mail your questions, and we certainly appreciate the individual who tipped us off on that.

Sean and I wish our best to Jaffe, and we thank him for an enjoyable four seasons as an analyst. He'll be scooped up by someone. They will be getting one hell of an announcer and one of the best in the business.

Moulson to Arbitration: Unable to come to terms on a contract so far, the Islanders and Matt Moulson appear to be headed to arbitration to determine a fair salary for the left winger. This may be the best way to go here. Moulson had a breakout 30-goal year last year, his first full year in the league. He will be 27 in November, and should prove that he is no one year wonder. Personally, Moulson gets in all the right areas and has a style of play that tells me he won't be. He may not hit 30 again, but he can absolutely be a 20-25 goal scorer in this league.

Having said that, the Islanders had some leverage here and this is the reason arbitration hearings are held. The last Islander to go to arbitration was Trent Hunter, when he was awarded a one year, $1.55 million deal. During that season the Islanders came to terms on a five year, $10 million extension with Hunter. Moulson will get a fair number, and you can be sure the Islanders will not walk away from it seeing as they still have to get to the cap floor. It appears after Moulson's case is decided (which will be Thursday morning), the Islanders will take August to look for a bargain or two before finalizing their contract with Doug Weight. The team will be over the cap floor, so no need to worry about that just yet.



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