So, down at Nassau Coliseum, they announced that Bridgeport’s breakup meetings would be held there…
OK, I kid. The team held its meetings Sunday in Bridgeport, but word didn’t leak out, so we ended up having to camp out Monday instead. (Amid the zoo that was WWE preparations. Yikes. If the president was there, there’d have been less security.) A more limited selection of players popping in after we got the word, but enough to craft a (hopefully) worthy wrap to this season. It runs in the morning.
Some bits otherwise:
–No reason not to disclose injuries anymore (though Jack Capuano was still hesitant): Haskins played the last month and change with a torn hip labrum that’s going to need surgery. Sim played with a separated shoulder and a bad ankle. Iggulden and Colliton were indeed both concussions, Bentivoglio was a sprained ankle, Lessard already talked about the oblique strain-or-tear. Lawson won’t need surgery, but that shoulder was hurting him.
Man-games lost settled in around 155, discounting Haley’s and Walter’s season-opening injuries (which would add 23 but more accurately belong to the Islanders), plus 11 more in the playoffs, plus six to illness. Pitton’s shoulder accounted for 37; Lessard’s broken hand, 20. Trainer John Sullo credited the relatively low number to both the players’ work ethic, and to the strength and conditioning work. “That made my job easier. There was nothing I did differently or specifically to get guys back quicker.”
The overall number is about 20 above last year’s. If you want, you can attribute basically the entire difference to Pitton, who lost “only” 20 games to last year’s shoulder injury.
–Capuano has been head coach for two years — well, two years with an asterisk on the long side, given the mess of 2006-07 — which has been the de facto term limit here in a very small sample. He has a contract for next season. If he were offered an NHL assistant’s job with the Islanders, would that interest him? He wasn’t biting: “I haven’t talked to Garth or anybody in the organization” about that kind of thing, he said. OK.
–That goal that was Ben Walter’s in Game 4, that we’d heard might go to Jon Sim? Word is both touched it on the way in, so they’re sticking with Walter.
–Asked those I talked to, does the playoff loss take away from the accomplishments of the season? The first few didn’t think so; not so much, at least. Take Capuano’s reply: “No, no. I’ve always said, to win a championship, you need luck, you need health, you need goaltending, you need special teams. It’s frustrating when it ends, but at the same time, these guys have a lot to be proud of.”
Mark Wotton, on the other hand, divided it neatly into two seasons: “In the first season, we accomplished a great deal, tied for third in the whole league. Obviously in that regard we’re pretty happy. In the second season, it’ll be frustrating to reflect on why we didn’t win. We’ll take the time over the summer and correct it for next year. … It’s something we can build on for next year. Next year, we’ll expect to be top-five in the league. When we get to the playoffs, we’ll expect to win, not just make the playoffs and be happy to be in the playoffs.”
–Wotton said he definitely plans to play next year, which sounds right after the year he had. Will it be here? Nothing’s set.
–Kiddie camp is sometime in early July; July 9, I think, was the initial word. (That Shelton excursion in 2005 seems more and more like a one-time thing, but…)
–At the end, went to the old “sum this team up” chestnut with Capuano. Didn’t have to be one word, though in the end, that’s where he went: “Just relentless. Yeah, relentless. They were just a blue-collar, hard-working group that never took ‘no’ for an answer. They exceeded expectations, with the injuries, with the call-ups. This team had 49 wins. It was pretty special.”
It’s a variation on “we never quit.” But a nice one.
Contract status, as best as I can figure, with next year’s AHL veteran status thrown in for fun:
SIGNED (Years remaining) — Sean Bentivoglio (1), Justin DiBenedetto (3), Robin Figren (2), Rob Hennigar (1), Jesse Joensuu (2), Mark Katic (3), Dustin Kohn (1), Andrew MacDonald (1), Tomas Marcinko (2), Kyle Okposo (2), Joel Rechlicz (2), Jon Sim (1) (V)
GROUP II (restricted, pending qualifying offer) — Jeremy Colliton (V-320), Blake Comeau, Jamie Fraser, Jack Hillen, Nathan Lawson, Peter Mannino, Jason Pitton, Trevor Smith
GROUP III — Yann Danis, Mitch Fritz (V-320), Chris Lee, Junior Lessard (V), Kurtis McLean
GROUP VI — Joe Callahan (V), Mike Iggulden (V-320), Ben Walter (V-320),
AHL/UNRESTRICTED — Ryan Duncan, Jon Gleed, Micheal Haley, Tyler Haskins, Pascal Morency, Vladimir Nikiforov, Dennis Packard (V-320), Andy Sertich, Mark Wotton (V)
UNSIGNED DRAFT PICK — Max Gratchev
UNSIGNED DRAFT PICK, MUST RETURN TO JUNIOR — Kevin Poulin
(V means veteran over 260 games’ experience, no more than five a night. V-320 means veteran, but qualifies for the one-man-a-game exemption for a player with up to 320 games’ experience.)
(There’s one man whom I’ve seen listed differently, but I’ll stick with my own reading for the moment.)
No good early word on who’d be tendered, who’d be asked back. Once source expected at least a couple of the young-vets like Lee, Iggulden and McLean to look to Europe. In Germany, they’re already speculating about Ben Walter. After all (Obligatory Fun With Babelfish returns!), “Logically that such achievements wake desires with so some club, because in the NHL could walter with the New York Islanders not foot seize.”
So that’s that for now. A little later than the past couple of years, but still. We’re not going anywhere, although (a) the blog seemed to become an 80-hour-a-week job at times this season, so I might keep the keyboard shut down a little more this summer to make up for it; and (b) sounds like we’re gonna be busy for a little while, so I might be bloggin’ elsewhere, too.
Still a little perturbed by the disappearance of my first-season credits, I’ll just say thanks to all who need thankin’ — I hope they know who they are — and most of all, thanks to you for reading.