For fans who will be wearing funny glasses to watch Wednesday night's telecast of the Islanders-Rangers game, Jon Sim doesn't expect his style will look much different in 3-D. "I'm pretty sure," the plucky veteran Islanders forward said, "I'll still be dumping the puck in."
Now 32 and with his eighth NHL team, Sim has built a career on dogged effort. As the Islanders grind through the final 10 games of another challenging season, he summarizes, to an extent, where the team stands. Said coach Scott Gordon, "They compete."
Sim agreed that he is no Wayne Gretzky. (And who is?) But his persistence on the team's fourth line - "He's kind of like a pest; he antagonizes, gets in front of the goaltender, tries to create havoc," Gordon said - is more than some cinematic trick enhancing the illusion of depth perception.
He has 10 goals in 67 games and never stops grinding, a real revival after missing virtually the entire 2007-08 season because of knee surgery and being sent down to the Bridgeport farm team for almost a third of last season. "He probably hasn't had the ice time he'd want," Gordon said. "But you come to work every day, have the right attitude, and I'll keep you in the lineup."
The team's chances of squeezing into the postseason are slim, and with a loss to the Rangers, slim will leave town. "But you know what? You never know what will happen," Sim said. "If there's a chance, there's always hope. You show up every day, you work hard.
"Everyone would like to have more goals - even if you are Wayne Gretzky. But I love what I do. I love the way I play."
In junior hockey, Sim in fact was a prolific scorer - 56 goals in consecutive seasons, 156 over three years. But in the NHL, he has bounced from Dallas to Nashville, Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia to Florida to Atlanta. This season is only his second in which he has seen action in more than 50 games.
Losing 80 of 82 games to surgery in 2007-08 and being exiled to Bridgeport last season made for "a rough time," he said. "Just a difficult year all around, mentally and physically. But I wanted to show the organization that I belonged here, just play my style and be ready."
After Monday's practice, Sim visited the adjoining rink at Syosset's IceWorks to watch his 3-year-old son, Lane, partake in a learn-to-skate program. (His 6-year-old, Landon, already has the skill.) It was somewhere between 3 and 6, Sim said, that he became a hockey player. He's been adding dimensions since.