One by one, NHL players on this summer's docket struck deals with their respective clubs to avoid the often-acrimonious arbitration process.
Blake Comeau was glad he followed suit.
Two days before his scheduled hearing--the 25-year-old forward's date was set for Thursday, August 4--Comeau settled on a deal with the Islanders. According to multiple sources, Comeau's one-year contract is worth $2.5 million.
"I'm really excited we got it done before the arbitration process," Comeau told Newsday when reached by phone Wednesday. "I think both parties wanted to avoid that. I'm just glad the process is over and excited to be back on Long Island as part of this re-building process."
Comeau is coming off a career-high season of 24 goals and 22 assists in 77 games for the Islanders this season.
"It's nice to have personal success," Comeau said,"but the way our locker room is, that's secondary. We care more about success as a team and winning."
As one of the Islanders home-grown players--he was a second-round pick in 2004--Comeau said it has been encouraging to see the team lock up other core members such as Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson.
"I think management and ownership knows that we have a great group of guys and chemistry is so important to winning," he said. "I've been with some of these guys through the minors--we've all grown together--so it feels good that they they are doing their part in keeping us together."
'Now it's on us," Comeau said. "The onus is on the players to step up and prove that management is going in the right direction."