The New York Islanders have had plenty of enforcers and tough guys in their history, from dynasty members Clark Gillies and Garry Howatt, to lesser-known brawlers the likes of Ken Belanger and Eric Cairns, but Mick Vukota, with 1,879 penalty minutes in the orange and blue, found a way to become a force on the Island and in the NHL.
From his infamous battles with Tie Domi and Craig Berube to his time on the Islanders in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the undrafted Vukota saw plenty of players, coaches and owners come and go and leave their mark on the franchise. From the first place Islanders of ’88, who were defeated by the upstart Devils, to the magical ’93 team that beat the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins without their leading scorer Pierre Turgeon, Vukota’s tenure with the team was an intense one.
In this exclusive interview with TheHockeyWriters.com, Vukota discusses his time in the WHL, playing with future teammate Travis Green, to the different effect Isles head coaches Al Arbour and Mike Milbury had on the youth of the Islanders. Vukota also discusses the changes in the game and how the deletion of fighting all together isn’t necessarily a good thing.
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Over the past ten years as a working journalist, Patrick Hickey Jr. has covered the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as well as the Brooklyn Aces of the former EPHL, contributing pieces and/or holding Editorial positions at NBC, New York Sports Day, NY Sportscene Magazine and the New York Times. During that time, he has interviewed NHL stars the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Bernie Nicholls, Bob Probert, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. He is also the first winner of the New York Islanders Blog of the Year Award, for his work on TheDriveForFive.com in 2008.