Islanders Sign El Nino — Wang Talks?

Long Island Braces for El Nino

A summer mini camp, a rookie training camp and two all-rookie games into his Islander career, Nino Neiderreiter has been signed to an entry level contract by the New York Islanders brass. Upon learning the news this afternoon, it did make sense to me for this signing to occur. As I posted previously, El Nino looked at home during the two rookie games last week with the Bruins. He offers the Islanders what they need — a left wing with some size, and a penchant for scoring goals. I am happy he is officially part of the Islander family. But I am starting to wonder — is this young kid ready for the day-to-day grind of the NHL?

Neiderreiter is no stranger to the spotlight to be sure, but he never faced the kind of scrutiny that Steven Stamkos, John Tavares or Sidney Crosby faced when they were drafted. Those young players had been considered by the hockey world, and vetted day after day since 15-16 years of age. El Nino has not been under that kind of pressure. While Long Island is not like playing in Toronto or Montreal, it is still not easy to be an 18 year old kid in the NHL. And while he has some good young players who will help ease the burden in Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey, it still remains to be seen if the kid has the maturity to enter the 82 grind at such a young age.

A 9 game stint to see if he can “make it” is not a bad idea. There is a roster spot open on the left side. I have stated that if he can show that he belongs — then he belongs. I can barely stand up on roller blades — so who am I to judge? My concern is based on having seen too many young prospects rushed by the Islanders in the past only to slip and fall, and not be able to recover — at least not until being traded away. Lets hope the franchises current team has discarded all of the pasts bad decision making policies and they give Neiderreiter the time and space he will need to surpass his potential. I hope that El Nino hits Long Island hard, and is here to stay for a long time.

Nino Niederreiter (left) represents a big part of the Islanders futre. Charles Wang (right) and Mike Milbury (center) talking Lighthouse back when Milbury was still the team GM. (Photo from 2005) The failure of Wang to fire Milbury has led some, including me, to wonder if Wang has the ability to make the right decisions for the franchise as a whole.

Filling A Void – Finally!!!

Speaking of long stays on Long Island — Charles Wang used today’s presser to discuss the Lighthouse — sort of — and the Islanders plans for the near term. After a year of near silence from the Islanders owner, and any thoughts or ideas about where the franchise is heading, Charles Wang finally decided to fill the microscopic void left by his enemies with some information.

Over the last 12 months, everyone from former Country Executive Tom Suozzi, to Kate Murray to the Wilpon’s to Gary Bettman have all speculated, wondered, and voiced their own ideas and opinions about the Islanders, the Lighthouse, and the development of the so-called Hub. Through all of the conversations on the radio, the blogosphere and the print media was the deafening roar from Wang and his Lighthouse crew. Not a word of communication to fans, or media. There was hardly a luke-warm rebuke of Kate Murray’s “plan.” But today, Mr. Wang finally offered some sage information to the Islander faithful. Essentially, we shouldn’t worry, because the NY Islanders will play out their deal with Nassau County until 2015.

Wow. A whole year and all we got was basically what we already knew. I suppose that little nugget of confirmation is better than the silence. Maybe?

There is a temporary stay on the sentence of death which hangs over the franchise like the Sword of Damocles. But that sword remains, and will be precariously close to falling onto the Islanders if the owner of the franchise does not make some haste to find a viable solution to the problem of where the team will play its home games in October of 2015 and beyond. If he waits until 2014 to make a decision, he is going to have to beg the New York Rangers to let the Islanders play home games at the Garden. Now — as one Islander fan to another — how does that make you feel? It would be like crossing the river Styx to play in front of Hades.

In addition, the gesture that Charles Wang is willing to spend money on free agents is easy to assume. He has kept the franchise here thus far, and for that I indeed thank him. The man has lost millions of dollars. But I am tired of hollow promises, bad PR operations, and what seems to be a fear of any criticism positive or negative of any kind. (See Billy Jaffe) As for the free agents, and how to bring them to Long Island — it does tie into the state of the building — I concur with Garth Snow’s assessment. When you can stay at the Ritz or Motel 6 for the same price — wouldn’t you choose the Ritz? Garth Snow has been building the team, and has done a nice job. Wang is happy to oblige — because the payroll is kept down. The proof will be on the contract in a few years when we have the chance to really contend and try to sign key free agents to supplement the core.

The on-ice portion of the franchise is moving in the right direction. But the Lighthouse, and the handling of the Public Relations for the team have been just short of a nightmare. If the franchise as a whole is going to move forward with the on-ice product, Charles Wang may want to play less of a public roll or step up and become an active participant in communicating the goals of a new home for the team outside of Nassau County. Short of finding and privately financing a powerful candidate to beat Murray in November 2011, along with at least a majority of the Town Board — The Islanders are going to need a new place to call home!

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Filed Under: New York Islanders


About the Author: A graphic designer who loves the game....and knows that age has slowed him down — but the passion is there. Islanders fan since the 70s, Dad, Husband and Coach of the Flying Tiger's Email: Twitter:

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  1. RobC/KO21 says:

    I think you said what thousands of Isles fans feel…Its hard to get excited about this team contending for a cup, in the future, because we don’t know if they will even be here when they’re coming to their own…We are setting ourselves up for heartbreak…

    This blows