Coach Scott Gordon didn't miss a beat when asked what former Bolt Zenon Konopka brings to the Islanders.
"Personality," Gordon said. "He's got a different type of demeanor in the locker room. We've got a great group of guys that are focused and serious, and to have that type of personality...that was something he brought to the table...that he'd be able to keep guys loose."
Catch a glimpse of the throng of the reporters that surrounded Konopka's stall today or eavesdrop on any conversation among those still in Tampa Bay's dressing room and it's easy to gather that Konopka was one heck of a popular guy for the Lightning.
"He's a guy you love to have on your team and hate to play against," said former Islander Nate Thompson.
It hasn't taken Konopka long to acclimate to his new team, either. Konopka has already made his imprint on a young Islanders dressing room, always cracking jokes, playing DJ and planning social events. But beyond that ebullience, Konopka brings a toughness and tenacity on the ice that complements the Islanders style of play well.
"He's a meat-and-potatoes guy," Gordon said. "He's got that old-school mentality that sometimes gets taken away from the game with the emphasis on speed and skill now. It's good to see a guy like Z can come in and play that old-school hockey, where he's in your face and keeping the opposition on their toes."
Konopka also brings a level of precision to the faceoff circle, where he currently ranks third in the league with a 65.4% winning percentage.
"He just competes. He's strong and a lot of guys think they have to win it all the time...but a lot of time it's just about out-battling and out-muscling," Gordon said.
Opposite from him in the face-off circle tonight will be some familiar foes, but Konopka said he'll put all his fond memories of Tampa in the past while on the ice tonight.
"You're attached to it. It's great to see all those faces and friends, but tonight will be all business," Konopka said before the game. "It's going to be a lot of fun here."
'They embraced me pretty well in this community, so it's great to come back and share some memories with those people."