The Beginning is the End is the Beginning
This will be our last newsletter for a bit as we determine the off-season frequency ahead of the Draft, Free Agency and Training Camp. A sincere “Thank You” to all our subscribers this season. We aimed to create a new and unique way for you to get all of your Islanders’ news during the week and hope you’ve enjoyed it.
We appreciate you making this newsletter a small part of your daily routine #LGI
Good Morning, Islanders Country.
You know the song “Closing Time” by the band Semisonic? It came out in 1998. If you heard the opening piano keys, you’d remember it. The most memorable verse in the song is “every new beginning is some other beginning’s end.”
The organization has faith in this group and the players believe in each other, but it feels like this season was the end of something- not necessarily the window to win a Stanley Cup, just that the identity of the team will be altered next season.
Barry Trotz’s Islanders will certainly still be recognizable, but changes should come and are necessary. It’s the end of a chapter, no doubt, but the next page is being written.
Coming up, Long Island is home for Mathew Barzal and all the news coming from “Clean Out” day on Saturday. Plus, Zdeno Chara’s big send-off, end of the season stats, and the 93 team steals GM1 against the Pens.
Let’s dive in.
Just because the last franchise center said he wanted to stay with the Islanders doesn’t mean it isn’t true when Mat Barzal says it.
Barzal’s situation is very different from that of John Tavares at the end of 2018. Yes, next season is the last of his 3-year $21 million contract, but unlike Tavares, Barzal will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights making a long-term contract in the interest of both parties.
Barzal and the Islanders can start negotiating an extension starting on July 13th, but after Barzal’s production dipped this season, the 24-year-old might want to bet on a better 2022-23 before talking term and dollars.
◾️WHERE I WANT TO BE: “Would love to be here on The Island, said Barzal when asked about signing a long-term extension. This is home. This is where I want to be, this is where I want to win.”
◾️ PLAY CAREER WITH ONE TEAM: “I love my life here,” Barzal added. “Love the city, love the fans, obviously our new rink is amazing. I love wearing the blue and orange. Would love to sign long-term here — I think it’s such a cool thing when a player plays his whole career with one team.”
◾️ANDY GREENE: No decision on whether he plans to retire. The 39-year-old who played in his 1,000th game this year is likely only to skate for the Islanders if he decides to return for a 17th season. “Really can’t say one way or another,” Greene said. “It’s just time to take the emotion out of everything, let it settle down, and see what happens next.”
◾️CAL CLUTTERBUCK / SCOTT MAYFIELD: Both Clutterbuck and Mayfield missed the last six weeks of the season with injuries but are expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
◾️SEMYON VARLAMOV: The veteran goaltender expressed a desire to want to remain with the Islanders next season and relief that he wasn’t moved at the trade deadline. “I’ve got one more year with the Islanders and I want to be here next year,” said Varlamov. “I wanted to finish this season, no matter what, with this team. I believe in this team. I believe in the organization. I think this team is going in the right direction.”
If you’re old enough to remember the Islanders drafting Zdeno Chara, trading Zdeno Chara, watching Zdeno Chara become a Norris Trophy winner and future Hall-of-Famer, Friday night was a bit surreal. “It was a spectacular moment,” Chara said after the game. “I will cherish that for the rest of my life.”
The season had already been laced with Chara sentiment and nostalgia and there he was again at age 45 giving us one more moment, scoring the final goal of the 2021-22 season. The UBS Arena crowd, many not born during his first Islanders tenure, chanted his name “Cha-ra! Cha-ra,” as if he had always been one of their own. It was a mix of gratitude and appreciation for all Chara has given the game with a recognition that it was on Long Island where it all started and perhaps where it ended as well.
◾️RESPECT FOR THE PLAYER: “I’ve not seen that ever in 20 years of the game,” Barry Trotz said of the ending of Friday’s season finale. “Zdeno’s not said anything about retiring, either to us or anybody else, but the other team after the game, coming over and saying can we shake his hand? That just tells me how much respect this player has garnered throughout the league.”
📚 SOUND SMART: A very special thanks to Eric Hornick for all he does each and every year on the MSG broadcasts, social media, and of course, in The Skinny. Here are some season-ending stats for the 2021-22 Islanders in historical context.
◾️Brock Nelson led the Isles in goals for the third straight season after Anders Lee did so in the prior three seasons. Mathew Barzal led the team in assists for the fourth time in five seasons (Nick Leddy did so last year). Nelson and Barzal share the title of team point leader. Barzal has now led or shared the team lead in five straight seasons, matching Mike Bossy's club record.
◾️Noah Dobson had 52 points; it is the first time an Islander defenseman has had 50 points since 2008-09 when Mark Streit had 56. Dobson is also the first Islander defenseman in 13 years to score at least 13 goals.
🗓 ISLE REMEMBER: On May 2, 1993, the Pierre Turgeon-less Islanders defeated the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in Game 1 of the Patrick Division Finals. Ray Ferraro and Benoit Hougue each had short-handed goals and Glenn Healy made 28 saves in the win. "We just walked in and stole the game," said the Islanders' Brad Dalgarno. "We didn't see their best, but they didn't see our best either."
🔗 Mathew Barzal has no desire to leave Islanders: ‘This is home’ by Ethan Sears, New York Post “Mathew Barzal’s favorite athletes all played their entire careers with the same team. During the Islanders’ breakup day Saturday morning, Barzal listed Michael Jordan, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane (and no, he doesn’t count Jordan’s brief comeback with the Wizards) as the players he’d like to join in doing so.”
🔗 Ilya Sorokin set to be Islanders' backbone in goal by Andrew Gross, Newsday “Sorokin went 26-18-8 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage while matching a team record with seven shutouts for the Islanders (37-35-10), who ended with a 6-4 loss to the Lightning at UBS Arena on Friday night. That placed him second in the NHL in shutouts and save percentage and fourth in GAA.”
And we leave you with this…Zdeno Chara delivered an end of the season (but not the end of his career) message on Instagram. Chara thanks everyone in Isles Nation from ownership to the coaches, players, and the indispensable Joanne Holewa.
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