Let me start by saying this: I do not want an NHL Lockout. I do not want to spend an entire year without NHL hockey. Hockey gives me something to do at any given time. The Nassau Coliseum is like a second home to me, and I never want to not be able to go to Islanders games. The 2004-05 lost season was terrible, yet I was only a freshman in high school. I could only imagine how much worse it would be eight years later, when I know so much more, and have invested so much more time into, the sport that I love.
At the moment, hockey fans are on the edge of their seats, in hope that the NHL and the NHLPA will come to terms on a Collective Bargainning Agreement in order for the 2012-13 season’s punctual start. Nobody wants to miss games. Whether an entire season is canceled, or several games are cut short, the end-result will leave a lot of fans bitter, but also wondering “what if”?
For example, what if the Islanders had a chance to continue their rebuild without interruption? What if the Islanders players had more time to gel? I know I’m still asking “What if there was no NHL Lockout? Would the Islanders still have Kenny Jonsson? What if the Islanders still had Kenny Jonsson”? Personally, I think the Islanders would have been in much better shape during the 2004-05 Season because I think, with the way the new NHL was set-up, Jonsson could have become one of the best defenseman in the league. That’s beside the point.
Obviously, none of us want to be stuck with the question of “what if,” but I’m going to be honest. Although I am not for an NHL Lockout, I think the Islanders would benefit from it.
You know, there’s something there’s something great about the two-way contract. It allows a General Manager to send a player to their minor-league affiliate as many times as they want, and whenever they want, without fear of losing the player involved in the transaction. So much talk about the Islanders not being to come together, and a lockout forcing the team to ruin its chemistry, but guess what? So many of the players involved in the Islanders rebuild are actually signed to two-year deals.
Obvious prospects such as Brock Nelson, Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan, Kirill Kabanov, Aaron Ness, and Johan Sundstrom will be playing in Bridgeport no matter what, but there’s more to it than that. Islanders fans may be getting used to David Ullstrom, Casey Cizikas, and Nino Niederreiter because of their recent stays on the Island, but they, too, will have a chance to further their development in Bridgeport. The best part is, they get even more help.
Travis Hamonic gets to join the party on the other side of the Long Island Sound. Entering his final season of his entry-level deal, Hamonic, arguably the Islanders best defenseman, can aid all the prospects on the blue-line. As a result, a large chunk of the Islanders future gets to continue their hockey career during a year-off, while other teams are forced to split up while they look for jobs all around the world. The prospects will continue to play together. They will continue to play hockey within the same organization, and when the lockout ends, the team will be more organized than most of the other 29 in the NHL.
There would also be extra time for the Islanders prospects to develop. The team can forget about Nino’s terrible rookie season. Nino can forget about it also. There will be no question on whether or not the Islanders should rush Ryan Strome to the NHL. That goes for Griffin Reinhart, too.
The Islanders, who are lacking NHL-ready defensemen, will also have more time to develop their defensive prospects that have professional experience. Matt Donovan will not be thrust into the spotlight. Aaron Ness will not be mislabeled because he was thrown on the ice before he was ready. Calvin de Haan will not be labeled the next bust. As a matter of fact, even if de Haan is a bust, at least the Islanders will get one more year to observe him without the headlines.
After a lockout, everything is up in the air. You know, I hate to use our cross-town rivals as an example, but the New York Rangers were labeled a basement team by everyone before the 2005-06 Season. They ended up shocking everyone. Henrik Lundqvist emerged, and Jaromir Jagr had a breakout season (even for him). They made the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-97 Season.
Maybe Tavares comes back stronger than ever and have his breakout season. Maybe Kevin Poulin or Anders Nilsson emerges as the Islanders starting goalie, especially because Nabby’s contract would expire. Maybe Rick DiPietro even gets an extra season to get in shape! And trust me; although most of us don’t like him, you better believe Ricky would use his time for just that. Maybe the team will come back without those horrid third jerseys, too. Most importantly, the Islanders could come back on a clean slate, and if they made the playoffs, all of the woes would be forgotten.
Filed Under: New York Islanders
About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants