Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.
It took several months for Lubomir Visnovsky to finally join the Islanders for this season, after personal issues and professional frustrations that had nothing to do with the team kept the 36-year-old defenseman away.
It took all of 72 hours for Visnovsky to commit to two more years with the Isles, proving to the hockey world what Visnovsky himself had said all along during his refusal to report: He had no problems with his new team.
"Lots of people were thinking I'm here just to finish my contract and go home. It's not true, obviously," Visnovsky said Saturday before the Isles game with the Penguins and just about 13 hours after he put pen to paper to sign a two-year, $9.5-million extension that also includes a no-move clause for the first season.
"I want to show everybody that I'm very happy here, that the Isles are a good team, a playoff team," he said. "I have a great team, great teammates and I think I can help this team."
Neil Sheehy, Visnovsky's agent, maintained throughout the long, twisting road to his client's arrival on the Island on Feb. 6 that Visnovsky's displeasure was not with the Isles, but with the NHL. Visnovsky got a no-trade clause from the Kings to go with the five-year, $28-million deal he signed during the 2007-08 season, but L.A. traded him two days before the clause kicked in.
He was traded two more times after that under the same deal, the last being from the Ducks to the Islanders on draft day this past June. Sheehy filed a grievance to void the trade but lost.
Then came the lockout and Visnovsky, whose son was having health issues, was again fed up with the league, not the Isles, and refused to report. But all along, the Isles were supportive, even allowing Visnovsky to return to Bratislava early in March to comfort a friend whose son had been killed in a helicopter accident.
"I have to say thanks to this organization, to Snowy [general manager Garth Snow], he has been very good to me," Visnovsky said. "When I wanted to go back home, he never said no, and that makes me feel very good to be with this team."
Prospects trickling in
With Canadian junior playoffs and the NCAA hockey tournament going on, the Islanders are keeping an eye out for their prospects' seasons to end. Ryan Strome, the 2011 first-round pick, had his Niagara team bow out of the Ontario League playoffs in the first round, and it appears Strome will join the Isles' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Strome can play for the Sound Tigers under an amateur tryout offer so that his Islanders contract does not go into effect; it only would if he joins the Isles and plays six games this season.
Defenseman Andrey Pedan, a 2011 third-round pick, had his OHL season end Friday, and defenseman Scott Mayfield and his University of Denver squad bowed out of the NCAA Tournament. Both need to sign contracts before they can join the organization, so that might take a few days more.
Anders Lee, perhaps the most NHL-ready of the Isles prospects, had his collegiate season end yesterday with Notre Dame's 5-1 loss to St. Cloud State. Lee might need a few days as well, but it's likely he will sign and join the Islanders immediately when that happens.
Matt Moulson has 10 points in his last 12 games, but they're all assists; the three-time 30-goal scorer hasn't had a goal since March 5. He's had 33 shots on goal in that 12-game span, and the fact that his linemate John Tavares has still been scoring doesn't yet worry Jack Capuano.
"As we say about guys that are struggling to score goals, if he wasn't getting the chances, we'd be concerned," Capuano said. "Matt's line has been scoring, he's been involved, so I know the goals will come."