Cam Tucker

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 13:  (L-R) Eric Lindros is honored for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and is joined by Lanny McDonald prior to the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic game at the Air Canada Centre on November 13, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty

Eric Lindros enters the Hockey Hall of Fame as a ‘one in a lifetime’ player

2 Comments

TORONTO (AP) Eric Lindros carved an unprecedented path to hockey stardom, including where the incoming Hall of Famer lived when he entered the NHL.

It was about a month into Lindros’ rookie season with the Philadelphia Flyers that the prodigy asked to move in with veteran teammate Kevin Dineen and his newlywed wife, Annie.

“And I was like, `Ah, let me go home and talk to my wife about that,”‘ Dineen recalled almost 25 years later.

Lindros had already bought a townhouse with “everything you could ever want,” but he was also a teenager in an unforgiving American city. Dineen figures he was probably a little bit lonely.

So Lindros spent two years in the Dineens’ home, flush with dogs and a growing, makeshift family. The unlikely unit ate breakfast and dinner together, and sometimes Lindros and Dineen sneaked into classes at the University of Pennsylvania, where Annie was working toward her master’s degree.

“It was funny in a lot of ways,” Dineen said. “It was like having a little brother who was much bigger than you.”

Finally entering the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov and the late Pat Quinn, Lindros had an incomparable career on and off the ice. He was a maverick in a sport of rigid rules and a talent on the ice not seen before or since.

“He was probably the most dominant player during his time in the NHL,” longtime teammate Rod Brind’Amour said.

At 6-foot-4 and more than 200 pounds, Lindros was like a freight train on skates, but with the agility and skills to move like a race car.

Brind’Amour still remembers hopelessly trying to defend Lindros at his first practice with the Flyers in 1992. Lindros had one hand on his stick as he rushed down the wing but still somehow whipped a wrist shot into the top corner.

“And I’m like, nobody can do that in the NHL,” Brind’Amour said. “And of course, if he wanted to run you over, he could run you through the boards. And then if you wanted to fight, he could fight. There was just nothing that he couldn’t really do. And that was impressive because there wasn’t really anyone in the NHL that could do everything.”

Dineen believes Lindros should be remembered as a progressive force. The hockey world could have its opinions, but Lindros stood by his best interests.

“He gets painted a little bit with the ugly brush because of the stands he took,” said Dineen, now a Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach.

Lindros twice refused to play for the team that drafted him No. 1 overall. He famously spurned the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques in 1991, later saying he didn’t want to play for owner Marcel Aubut, and that came two years after he declined to play for Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League – the club eventually to traded him to Oshawa.

Lindros sat out the 2000-01 season waiting for a trade out of Philadelphia following a bitter public spat with general manager Bobby Clarke regarding the treatment of Lindros’ injuries, including multiple concussions. Compare that to the handling of current stars like Sidney Crosby, whose concussions have been handled by the Penguins with caution.

“It’s not like you’re looking to go upstream,” Lindros said. “The choices that I made were choices that other people had done before me. It wasn’t like it was fresh territory.”

Perhaps not on a case-by-case basis, but the entirety of Lindros’ off-ice drama is unprecedented among NHL superstars.

And still, his career will be defined as much by what it wasn’t as what it was.

Injuries limited him to fewer than 800 regular season games and retirement at age 34. He has some of the finest seasons ever in the league on his resume, but no longevity to go with it. And of course, Lindros also lacks a precious Stanley Cup title.

What could his career have been with good health? Brind’Amour thinks Lindros’ brute, physical style likely would have degraded his productivity with time.

Regardless, the powerful Lindros made a dent on the sport. His dominance and distinctiveness can’t be denied.

“He’s one in a lifetime,” Brind’Amour said. “I don’t know if you’ll ever see a player like him because the game’s changed so much now. The physical part of the game is kind of out the door. No kids growing up are trying to be like that. It’s all skill and skating, so I don’t know that you’re going to see that kind of player again.”

With Jack Capuano on the hot seat, Tavares backs the Islanders coach

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:  John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders skates in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)
Getty
7 Comments

These seem like uncomfortable times for the New York Islanders.

Already sitting 15th in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders lost in disappointing fashion 4-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, as their record dropped to 5-8-3.

This dreadful start to the season has once again raised questions about the future of head coach Jack Capuano, who has coached the Islanders since the 2010-11 season.

His tenure most recently includes back-to-back 100-point seasons and a second-round playoff appearance in the 2016 post-season.

In July, both Capuano and GM Garth Snow received a vote of confidence from the new ownership group. That was in the summer. It’s now mid-November, and while there is plenty of hockey left on the schedule, the Islanders are in danger of falling further behind in the East.

With frustration growing among the fan base, the team’s best player John Tavares spoke in support of the coach following Monday’s effort.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with them or their approach to the team,” Tavares told Newsday. “I have confidence in our group, in our staff. It comes down to the guys stepping on the ice and playing to our identity, playing the way we know we can play.”

The Islanders are 20th in the league in scoring and haven’t gotten much production from their big summer free agent signing Andrew Ladd. The Islanders also lost key forwards in free agency, as Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen took their talents to Buffalo and Detroit, respectively.

The Islanders play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. They’ll have to sit on this latest loss for three days, before playing one of the best teams in the league on home ice.

Storm clouds gathering in Brooklyn? Lightning crush Islanders, who continue to struggle

Jack Capuano
AP
3 Comments

The New York Islanders showed plenty of fight Monday. Except when it came to what was on the score board — where it matters most.

Facing a lineup as skilled as the one the Tampa Bay Lightning possess is a challenge for any team. But the Islanders really didn’t offer much resistance until the third period and by then, they were down four goals and the final result was a mere technicality.

Through 40 minutes, the Islanders had a paltry 14 shots on goal, compared to the 27 their goalie Jaroslav Halak had to face. In the end, the Bolts crushed the Islanders 4-0.

The frustration in Brooklyn continues to grow.

After a second-round playoff appearance in the spring, the start to this season has been a miserable one for the Islanders. They’re in danger of falling to last in the Eastern Conference, sitting one point up on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Let’s look at some recent trends:

— A lack of discipline: They gave the talented Lightning five power plays, all before the third period. Now, the Bolts weren’t able to capitalize on the power play, but you’re playing with fire giving that lineup those chances.

— Same old story on effort: Earlier this month, the Islanders played what was described as their “worst game of the year.” That was after a 6-1 loss to the Lightning. Exactly how will this game be described? Fourteen shots on goal after 40 minutes? Hockeystats.ca had the shot attempts at 50-30 for the Lightning following two periods.

— Ladd’s struggles continue: Andrew Ladd‘s lack of production has been an issue, which is understandable considering the price he signed for as a free agent. Lately, it’s looked like he would be trending upward, with goals in back-to-back games last week. He was held off the score sheet Monday. He didn’t register a shot on net for a second straight game.

— Another tough game for Halak: Jaroslav Halak took the blame for allowing the OT goal resulting in an Islanders loss Saturday. He faced plenty of shots through two periods Monday, giving up four goals on 31 shots by the time it was all over. Again, not like the team in front of him manufactured much in the way of offence until it was too late.

It all adds up to more frustration for the Islanders fan base. According to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, there were more chants of ‘Fire Cappy!’ from fans at the Barclays.

The new ownership group in July gave coach Jack Capuano and general manager Garth Snow a vote of confidence, but one has to wonder how long that can last given such a bad start to the season.

The majority of fans didn’t share the same optimism in a ProHockeyTalk poll this summer.

The Islanders don’t play again until Friday, when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s not going to get any easier.

Video: Brown rocks Tavares with open ice hit, drops the gloves with Mayfield

4 Comments

Tempers flared between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

Lightning forward J.T. Brown rocked Islanders star John Tavares with an open-ice hit early in the second period. As you might expect, there was a response. Scott Mayfield skated right after Brown, and the two dropped the gloves for a lengthy fight inside the Bolts’ zone.

Mayfield was also given an instigator penalty and a misconduct.

Meanwhile, the Islanders trailed the Lightning 4-0 at the end of two periods.

IIHF president Fasel says ’50-50′ chance NHL participates in 2018 Olympics

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23:  (l-R) Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban #76 of Canada pose with the gold medals won during the Men's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match against Sweden on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty

There is still no decision or agreement about whether NHL players will participate in the 2018 Olympics, but the Jan. 15 deadline set forward by the IOC is approaching.

While the IOC has decided not to pay for the transportation and insurance cost of NHL players participating in the Olympics, which has become one of the contentious issues in this whole process, IIHF president René Fasel told reporters that he had spoken with the Russian Olympic Committee and was told the committee would pay for the travel and insurance costs of Russia’s players if necessary.

Keep in mind that Alex Ovechkin has already stated he’ll participate in the Olympics, even if the NHL doesn’t come to an agreement to send its players.

Meetings between the league and the IIHF are expected for this week.

From the Canadian Press:

League officials will meet with the International Ice Hockey Federation in New York on Wednesday. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the NHL hopes to learn if any traction has been made between the IIHF and the International Olympic Committee with regard to potential sticking points for participation at the Games in South Korea

When it comes to NHL participation in the Olympics, Fasel believes it’s a “50-50” chance right now.

“At the end, it’s also a political decision and, you know, I understand Gary Bettman. It’s not so easy. There are some owners that they say, ‘Listen, to shut down the league for two weeks in February, 2018, it’s not an easy thing to do,'” said Fasel.

“Some players coming back, they are injured, they are out of shape. It’s just before the start of the playoffs — I mean, couple months before the start of the playoffs. If you have a very good player who is injured, I can understand that for some owners, that could be an issue. On the other hand, I think it’s very important for our sport of hockey that the best players are in the Olympics.”

The New York Islanders certainly know about having a star player injured at the Olympics.

John Tavares suffered a partially torn MCL during the 2014 Sochi Olympics and wasn’t cleared for full activity until three months after the injury.

The IOC paid his salary during his absence from the Islanders lineup — after that club’s GM Garth Snow sounded off on the IOC and IIHF, saying, “It’s a joke. They want all the benefits from NHL players in Olympics and don’t want to pay when our best player gets hurt.”

Related:

Bettman: Discussions about NHL participation at 2018 Olympics ‘not on the front-burner’

Daly: NHL could skip 2018 Olympics and return in 2022