The Hockey Writers Q & A: Islanders and Fishsticks?

John Tavares Captain
John Tavares is the heart and soul of the New York Islanders, and he will be heavily counted on to lead the Islanders back to the playoffs in 2014-15. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

It is once again time for another edition of The Hockey Writers Q&A. This time out we take a look at the New York Islanders. For Islander fans, it was a tough and heartbreaking season. However, the 2014-15 campaign definitely renews hope with the possibility of new ownership and a new arena for the 2015-16 season. Previous additions of The Hockey Writers Q&A include:

Now we set our sights on the New York Islanders with another Q&A chat. This time we talk to veteran beat writer Brad Kurtzberg, who is a jack of all trades and native Long Islander. We pulled no punches with the questions and he fired off a few rounds with his answers so here it goes.

New York Islanders Q&A — Brad Kurtzberg

1. Charles Wang is finally going to sell the team. What does this really mean to the fans out on Long Island?


Well, until he sells it and until we see how much money the new owner(s) are willing to spend on the team, it means fans are hoping and waiting. After all these years of uncertainty, most Isles fans won’t believe things will be different until they actually change.

2. Do the New York Islanders trade their first round pick? Why or why not? If so, do they trade down more than once in the 2014 NHL Draft?


Rumors abounded that the Isles tried to field offers for the 5th overall pick but they ended up keeping it and selecting Dal Colle. It was a safe and smart choice. Then the Isles gambled and traded back into the late 1st round to draft to grab Josh Ho-Sang. Ho-Sang is talented but very brash. He could change the tenor of the locker room and certainly won’t be dull, but he has to back up his words and attitude with performance on the ice. 

3. New York signed Jaroslav Halak to a four year deal after trading for his rights (via Washington). Do you believe the Islanders finally have a number one goalie to lead the team into the playoffs?


Halak is good enough to take a team to the playoffs. Now the Isles need to upgrade their defense via trade or free agency and add another forward to the lineup in order to get to the playoffs. Halak is a huge upgrade from Evgeni Nabokov, but he can’t do it alone. The Isles also need to add a quality backup goalie. They didn’t last year and it really hurt them.

4. Yes I said playoffs earlier, what has to happen for the Isles to placate the long suffering fans?


Making the playoffs again is a big thing. This team hasn’t won a playoff series since 1993. Al Arbor was their coach. That means Isles fans younger than 30 have almost no recollection of this team winning a playoff series. The team is moving to Brooklyn next season. They really need to create a buzz around this team to help sell tickets and attract new fans to replace those from Long Island who won’t be making the trip as often. Making the playoffs is a minimum requirement.

5. At what point is Travis Hamonic allowed to play first pairing defensive minutes consistently?


It should be coming soon. Hamonic is a good defenseman and he’s maturing. He’s even shown some brief flashes of offensive ability but that’s not really his game. Hamonic is coming into his prime as seen here.


At this point, he should be a top pair defenseman unless the Isles bring in a big name or the pairings just don’t match up.

6. Griffin Reinhart will not be traded. What kind of role do you see him having for New York in 2014-15?


He’ll probably be on the second pairing by the end of this year. Fans can’t expect too much too soon from a young rookie defenseman. If they’re patient with Reinhart, he should develop into a real stud, but it will take some time and there will be some growing pains.

7. Who will ultimately be the backup goaltender on the Islanders since Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson are out of the picture?


The backup goalie isn’t on the roster yet. They are supposedly interested in Justin Peters of the Hurricanes but we’ll see if he’s made available. It’s important that they don’t skimp on this position.

8. Will keeping the 2014 draft pick be worth it in the long run?


It has to be. The Isles know the 2015 draft is deeper, but they have to play well enough to avoid making that pick a lottery pick. They couldn’t just send the 5th overall pick in this year’s draft to Buffalo, it would send a horrible message to the team. To take the next step, the Isles need to start trading some prospects and picks for players who can help them win games in the NHL now.

9. Bridgeport in the AHL has become kind of a sore spot. What needs to happen down there to at least make it a better place for prospects to play?


Injuries to the big club and the AHL club have hurt the situation. The arena is also not in the best area. Still, winning is a great deoderant as they say. If they start winning on Long Island and Bridgeport, people will be willing to go there.

10. Lastly, what are your favorite memories from the Nassau Colosseum?


My first NHL game was at the Coliseum. As old and unimpressive as the building is by modern standards, it still has some of the best sightlines in the league. The best memory for Isles fans has to be the first Stanley Cup and Bobby Nystrom’s overtime game winner in Game 6 against the Flyers in 1980.




From 1975 to 1985, the Isles were arguably the best franchise in hockey and seeing all-time greats like Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, and Billy Smith play so well for so long really spoiled the fans of Long Island. The rivalry with the Rangers really was intense and produced some of the best hockey seen anywhere in the late 70s and early 80s.




The question becomes where do we go next. Naturally the answer is even deeper into the Metropolitan Division. This should be fun so stay tuned as you never quite know what will happen during “The Hockey Writers Q&A“.