Islanders irked by being TV punching bags
EDMONTON, Canada - As Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline neared, then passed, the Islanders were getting ready to take the ice at Rexall Place for practice before learning where Thomas Vanek was headed.
That gave the guys who remain with the team ample time to see and hear the talking heads on both major Canadian sports networks tear the Islanders to shreds, both before and after the deal that sent Vanek to the Canadiens for a smaller-than-hoped-for return.
"Ever since I've been here, plenty of media people have enjoyed taking their shots at us," Matt Martin said Thursday morning before the Islanders played the Oilers. "There's not a lot we can do about it except try to shut them up by winning games. This year didn't go the way we've wanted it to. All we can do is try to win some these last 18 games, stick together and move forward."
The Islanders kicked off their post-deadline march to the end of the regular season against the Oilers, a franchise that has enjoyed even less success than the Isles during the past few seasons. Perhaps it's due to a pro-Canada feeling on the airwaves up here, but although Edmonton is heading for an eighth consecutive season without playoffs, its two very minor deals on Wednesday were met without much criticism.
So the Islanders were the butt of the jokes and comments after Vanek was dealt for a conditional second-round pick and Swedish prospect Sebastian Collberg.
That the deadline finally had passed and Vanek and Andrew MacDonald, the two players expected to go, had been dealt did not bring relief to the locker room, although it did remove a distraction.
"There's an element of that for sure," Kyle Okposo said. "We can focus on playing games right now; we know who's here."
Coach Jack Capuano's message has remained the same in the days leading up to Wednesday as well as into Thursday night's game. "You stick together and play hard," he said. "That's all you can control at this point."
Travis Hamonic saw MacDonald, his good friend and long-time defense partner, head out the door on Tuesday. Listening to his team get roundly mocked on Wednesday didn't sit well with the emotional defenseman, who for the remainder of the season will wear the alternate captain's "A" that MacDonald wore.
"Someone's always going to have a [wise-guy] remark, it seems -- for you, for the organization," Hamonic said. "It's a lot easier to say something bad about someone or some team than it is something good, and people are going to report how they want about us.
"For me, for some guys, you want to use that stuff as motivation. We want to turn this thing around and maybe remember what was said about us."
Notes & quotes: D Matt Donovan, in his third stint with the team this season, and LW Mike Halmo played after being recalled the day before. Halmo took the spot occupied by Eric Boulton (broken hand).