The extent of Johnny Boychuk’s injury won’t be known until Sunday or Monday, when the Islanders’ team doctors will have a chance to check out what is believed to be a left shoulder problem.
Whether it’s a week or a month that the Islanders are without Boychuk, two things are clear: Travis Hamonic will be leaned on even more heavily to carry the right side of the defense. And Hamonic’s preseason trade request is even further away from being honored.
General manager Garth Snow has declined comment when asked about Hamonic’s trade status ever since news of the request went public on Nov. 18, though two NHL sources indicated to Newsday that there has been no movement on a possible deal.
Hamonic also has declined to talk about his request since Nov. 19, the day he addressed the situation and said he wouldn’t discuss it further. He said Boychuk’s injury hasn’t affected the way he’s approached his unique situation.
“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you,” Hamonic told Newsday on Saturday. “I know that’s going to be hard for people to believe, but it’s the truth. I’m an Islander and I’m proud to be an Islander. It’s a big loss to not have Johnny out there but it doesn’t change anything for me personally.”
The chances of Snow finding a deal to unload Hamonic this season were growing slimmer anyway. The Islanders were 10-6-3 when news of Hamonic’s September request broke. The Isles lost their next two games, fueling speculation that something needed to be done for the sake of the team as well as Hamonic’s desire to be closer to his Winnipeg home.
But since then, the Islanders are 11-5-2. And Hamonic, averaging a team-high 23:43 per game entering Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Penguins, has been a big part of the surge.
So the Feb. 29 trade deadline may seem like the last day for Snow to fulfill Hamonic’s request, but unless a fellow GM blows away Snow with an offer in the next seven weeks, the real time frame for a Hamonic trade will start in June.
Crosby, Tavares: Similar struggles
Sidney Crosby and John Tavares have shared Olympic gold, they share an agent and they share summer workouts with a handful of other NHL players. This season, they also have shared slow (for them) starts, with Crosby entering Saturday night’s game a point behind Tavares and the two elite scorers nowhere near the top 30 in the league. Crosby scored twice in the Penguins’ 5-2 win over the Islanders.
“You’re so focused on helping your team get points and wins, it’s hard to keep track of what everyone else is doing. I’m sure he’s in the same boat,” Crosby said. “John’s a guy who works really hard, so even when you have those tough stints, if you have those characteristics he does, if you play the way he does, things will turn around.”
Breaking the code?
Baseball has its many unwritten rules that players judiciously enforce. Hockey code is a bit different, but playing in an unsportsmanlike manner is a no-no.
That’s why it was surprising to hear one Islander say that opposing players calling for the puck when the Isles have it on the rush isn’t that uncommon.
The Sabres’ Evander Kane did that on Thursday, banging his stick on the ice behind Marek Zidlicky as the Islanders defenseman rushed into the Buffalo zone.
“You hear guys yelling ‘Reverse!’ a lot, too,” one Isles player said. “Veteran guys, too.”
Zidlicky did not give up the puck on that rush Thursday.
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