Monday was a big day for Mike Mottau. The 32-year-old veteran defenseman not only signed a two-year, $1.6 million deal with the Islanders, but also welcomed the birth of his fourth child, Brooke.
Mottau, whose wife actually went into labor during contract negotiations, said the day was one he’ll “always remember.”
“The birth of a child is already an incredible experience,” he said. “Coupled with getting a job and it was quite a thrill.”
The Islanders inked the former Devil two days after top defenseman Mark Streit went down with a shoulder injury that will likely sideline him for sixth months.
Mottau, who finished with 2 goals and 16 assists in 79 games for New Jersey last season, said he’s looking forward to join his new team.
“This is a great organization with a lot of history,” Mottau said. “I’ve been playing against these guys for three years and they’re tough to play against. I’m really excited to sign on.”
Stepping up in the wake of a serious injury is also something Mottau experienced last season with the Devils.
“We went through a similar situation last season when Paul Martin went down,” he said. “But if you can be a cohesive group and come together that makes the loss less of a blow.”
Head coach Scott Gordon said that quickly after signing the 6-ft, 190-pound defenseman, he received hearty endorsements from two of Mottau’s former coaches—Brent Sutter and Boston College’s Jerry York.
“He’s more appreciated by his own team than on the outside,” Gordon said. “I think this is a great situation. He’ll bring depth back to our defense.”
The first thing on Mottau’s agenda when he arrived?
He sought out new teammate Frans Nielsen to apologize for his hit that sidelined the Danish center for several weeks two seasons ago.
“You don’t ever want to see it happen to anyone,” Mottau said after smoothing things out with Nielsen. “He had said no hard feelings.”
“We hugged it out,” Nielsen joked.
Although Mottau did not play in last night’s pre-season contest against the Devils, he’ll face his former team tonight in his first game as an Islander.
“It’ll be interesting,” Mottau said. “I’ve got a lot of friends over there still but in this business you have to learn to turn the page quickly.”