Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.
The Olympic break is upon the Islanders. Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald are still on the team as they head off in decidedly different directions for the next two weeks -- Vanek is going to Sochi to captain Austria's hockey team while MacDonald is headed to "someplace warm" with his girlfriend to decompress.
There's little chance either will remain an Islander beyond the Mar. 5 trade deadline, which could certainly complicate Vanek's Olympic tournament for underdog Austria as well as MacDonald's vacation, plus any of the three Islander games before Mar. 5, if either player sticks around that long.
Vanek understands the business side of things, having already been traded once this season and then turning down the Islanders' seven-year, $50 million contract offer.
"What I learned from the first time around," Vanek said, referring to his Oct. 27 trade from the Sabres to the Islanders, "is that it can happen at any time. I wasn't too focused or worried about [Friday's roster freeze].
"I put myself in this situation, so this [uncertainty] is a part of it. I take it game by game here as I guess all of us should."
MacDonald, who hasn't been as front and center in contract discussions or trade talks, isn't quite as comfortable with it all, having only played for the Islanders in his four NHL seasons.
"It's not exactly what you want to be going through," said MacDonald, who rejected a four-year, $16 million offer earlier this season and is seeking over $5 million per year in a new deal. "I'm sure it'll cross my mind during the break, but that's time to get away from it all and, when I'm back, it's back to business, no matter what happens.
"I'm an Islander and this is where I want to be. That's all you can think for now."
Hamonic fights through it
Travis Hamonic has played through just about every nagging injury he can think of, save the time two seasons ago when he took a puck to the face that rearranged some of his features and kept him out for three weeks.
Back on Jan. 12 in Dallas, Hamonic encountered another injury he couldn't play through: A concussion. Like all NHL players, he's had concussions over the years -- his last recorded one was in December of 2012, while playing for Bridgeport during the NHL lockout -- but also like all NHL players, Hamonic sees an injury as something to be mentally tough about rather than something to give in to.
"It takes a lot to keep me out of the lineup," said Hamonic, who returned Saturday night after missing 12 games. "You have to realize that it's doctors calling the shots on this. That's the reality now. If I could have played through it, I would have. But there's a lot more at stake than my instinct and my desire to play through things."
The Islanders entered last night's game against the Avalanche 8-13-8 at home, the fewest home wins of any team in the league. That continues an ugly trend over the last three-plus seasons -- last season's playoff team won only 10 of 24 home games, fourth-worst in the NHL.
Here are the teams with the fewest home wins since the 2010-11 season, through Friday's games:
|Team||Wins||Overall home record|