Another new player to attend his first Islanders training camp is forward Tim Wallace.
Wallace, 27, signed with the Islanders on July 21 after spending his entire professional career within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. Skating with a new team didn’t change any of his preparations coming into training camp. Instead, he said it’s all about getting back into the swing of things.
“I think the first couple days have been high intensity and about trying to get back into shape,” said the Achorage, AK, native. “You just come in and prepare the same way. You want to be in the best shape you can and then try to do whatever you can to make the team.”
Last season, the 6’1”, 207-pound forward scored 20 goals and 17 assists in 62 regular season games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Prior to his time in the Penguins organization, Wallace spent four seasons with the University of Notre Dame.
Wallace may be a new face to Islanders fans, but he isn’t necessarily a new face in the locker room.
“I played with Mark (Eaton) in Pittsburgh,” he said. “We met and talked in the past because he also went to Notre Dame. I also knew Trevor Frischmon through a friend from back in Alaska. I definitely played against a lot of the other guys, too, and it seems like a great group.”
If his former teammate Eaton gave any advice on what to expect: “I think by now we know what to expect in training camp,” Wallace said. “You have to come in, get in shape and be ready to work.”
During his five seasons in the Pittsburgh organization, Wallace tallied two assists and 12 penalty minutes in 24 career NHL games. He hopes to soon add to those totals by wearing an Islanders uniform.
“Obviously, there are a lot of good, young players here,” he said. “Hopefully, I can make the team out of camp and do whatever I can to help the team win.”
POSTED ON Monday, 09.19.2011 / 1:15 PM
Islanders forward Michael Grabner has had a pretty busy off season. With just six games left in the 2010-11 season, the Austrian winger became a father. As could be expected, his summer was full of firsts: changing diapers, giving baths and soothing the baby back to sleep.
“He’s (Aidan) pretty big now,” Grabner said. “He’s starting to roll over, so he’s kind of getting more of a personality.”
|PHOTO CREDIT: KATHLEEN MALONE-VAN DYKE|
“I got home and for three weeks straight, I got my apartment finished, bought new furniture and then I had (charity) appearances back home for kids,” Grabner said. “It was a busy summer. I just had the baby, so I didn’t really think about last season too much.”
Even though he didn’t reflect on his team-leading 34-goal season, it wasn’t because he spent hours playing Call of Duty. Having a baby cut into his video game schedule, but did not affect his training.
“I try to come in (to camp) a little heavier, not overweight, but a little stronger and more muscle, because I know I’m going to lose it (over the course of the season),” Grabner said. “But I feel pretty good on the ice. I think my testing was really good, conditioning and stuff too.”
Although all the players were prepared, the strenuous on and off-ice workouts have been grueling for all the guys.
“The first day was just off-ice testing and you just do what you have to do, but the second day was pretty tough with the on-ice testing, the practice and a couple laps after,” Grabner said. “But it’s camp. You’re trying to get in game shape.”
With just under three weeks until opening night, Grabner’s more than happy to put in the hard work.
“There are some tough days ahead of us, but it’s what we need to get in game shape and be ready for October 8th,” Granber said. “Everyone is putting in a good effort out there, so it’s going to be good.”
Even with the busy summer, there’s no doubt that Grabner’s head is in a better place than it was this time last year. Last preseason, Grabner was acquired by the Islanders after the team which drafted him (Vancouver) traded him to Florida, which then waived him a few days prior to the start of the season.
One thing’s for sure, with his new five-year deal, he’s feeling more confident.
“I just want to have a good season,” Grabner said. “It’s the NHL, it’s tough, but I want to try to do whatever I can to help the team win and play my role the best I can. I love to score goals, so hopefully I can score a lot this year for our team.”
Surely, his teammates and Islanders fans hope he’s able to score a lot, too.
POSTED ON Monday, 09.19.2011 / 9:36 AM
With their first skate session on Saturday and an intense day of off-ice training on Sunday, the players are back at Iceworks for their third day of camp. Group A takes the ice at 9:45, with an off-ice session to begin at 11:45. Group B takes the ice at noon with their off-ice session set to begin at 2 p.m.
POSTED ON Sunday, 09.18.2011 / 4:56 PM
Goalie masks are a unique piece of art. No two are exactly alike, but that hasn't always been the case. Prior to 1968, masks were all the same. That is, until Boston Bruins goaltender Gerry Cheevers began adding "stiches" to his mask everytime he was hit in the face with a shot, to mark where he would have been cut.
Today, each mask is custom painted, giving a goaltender his identity.
"That's why a lot of young kids become goalies," said Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro. "I know that's why I became a goalie, is because I loved the equipment and I loved the masks. It just gives you an opportunity to let your personality show by doing something a little different than everyone else."
"I usually go with a tribute to the veterans, the military and the fire department, but last year with my injury, I had to switch things up," DiPietro said. "I became pretty comfortable with the new one and a lot of people have commented that they like the look."
Going with this type of mask is somewhat of a tribute to Chris Osgood, an NHL veteran and former New York Islanders goaltender.
"Ozzy was great when he was here," DiPietro said. "He's not only a great goalie, but he's a fantastic guy. So everyone says that I look like Ozzy with the mask, and that's not a bad thing. I'll take a couple of those Stanley Cups."
DiPietro said he even has another mask in the works.
"If I decide to change, my new mask will be a tribute to the troops and the New York fire department, police department, POWs, MIAs. My dad is a Vietnam Vet, he flew helicopters, so there will be a helicopter on there."
He added, "It's just a way to keep the men and women who are fighting for us, not only in the past, but today, in our minds and in our hearts, just to let them know how much we appreciate what they do."
"My mask doesn't really have a story. Twelve years ago, the guy (who was painting my mask) asked me what I wanted and I said I didn't know," Nabokov said. "I told him I wanted something cool, something different, and he came up with the style."
"Initially, the monster was ripping the fish head and blood was dripping with Sharks coming up from the bottom. I liked the idea, so I kind of stayed with that and changed it up a bit when I got here."
Though Nabokov said he doesn't really have a story about the goulish creature on his mask, the back plate holds a lot of significance.
"On the back plate, there are names of some really important people who have since passed away," Nabokov said. "When I first came to North America, they helped me a lot. My goalie coach, Warren Strelow and a woman named Anna Gorouven, who helped me with all off ice stuff. We became really good friends. Unfortunately they've both passed away. My kids (Andrei and Emily) names are on there as well."
When it comes to the design, Montoya was very vocal about what he was looking for.
"I wanted to be original as well as incorporate the Island theme," Montoya said. "I know people didn't really like the fisherman, but I talked with the artist I had and we thought if he could make a cool fisherman, it would look really nice. So he put the Captain on one side, with a nautical compass, anchor and chain, which I thought was really cool. I also wanted a lighthouse."
On the back plate, Montoya incorporated a lot of personal history, including the initials of his parents, his brothers and his wife.
"On the back plate, I've always had a character smoking a cigar," Montoya said. "I also wanted to represent the University of Michigan (with the M on the cigar) and Team USA (the moon's bandana). I've had the 'Big Cubano', which has stuck with me since the day I was drafted."
Poulin's new mask is still at the painter, but he's going with the same theme as last year.
"My helmet is a tribute to the Islanders," Poulin said. "I have Mike Bossy and Billy Smith pictured on one side with the logo on the other. On the back plate there is a picture of the Canadian flag, representing where I'm from."
|"My painter in Sweden came up with the design," Koskinen said. "He had a few new ideas this year and I just let him go with it. I like it more than last year. I like the white cage."|
|"It's always fun to do something different with your mask from year to year," Nilsson said. "With this mask, I decided to go pretty simple and keep it with the Islanders theme."
Nilsson added, "I wanted to have a lot of small New York Islanders logos, but after talking to my painter back home in Sweden, he thought it would look better simplified. I also wanted glitter, so it's a basic idea, but it turned out cool."
It can’t be too hard to spot a hockey player in a crowd. The tall, lean muscular build is a telling sign. Flip-flops, shorts, t-shirt and a hat are standard attire, but the most telling sign that you’re looking at a professional hockey player is long, glorious, wavy hair.
Hockey hair, or “flow” has been a part of the sport for generations. Guy LaFleur’s hair used to fly back as he charged down the ice in the 70’s, and Jaromir Jagr’s mullet in the 90’s are just two in hockey’s storied history. Today’s New York Islanders are continuing the trend with several players wearing the look.
|Moulson's flow towards the end of the 2010-11season.|
“The first time I ever grew it out was because I wanted it coming out the sides and back of my helmet,” Moulson said. “I thought that was cool when I was younger.”
It’s not just all about the looks. It’s believed that good flow can lead to good play. Some players credit their mop for their good fortune.
“I’ve had the flow for probably six or seven years now,” Parenteau said, who has been above a point per game in the AHL for four years and scored 20 goals for the Islanders last year. “So I don’t know, things have been going well for me hockey wise, so it’s kind of related.”
The same can be said about the opposite effect. If slumping, cutting the flow can kick-start success, giving a player a fresh start.
No one wakes up one morning with long hair. It takes years to develop the length and style of ones’ flow. This process is usually inspired and these players are no different.
Moulson, who grew up in North York, Ont. was a fan of Toronto Maple Leaf captain Doug Gilmore’s hair and San Jose Sharks captain Mike Ricci’s. Martin cited less traditional hockey sources.
“Brad Pitt’s hair in Troy was pretty sweet,” Martin said. Martin, who is also a blonde, cited David Beckham’s hair as inspiration growing up.
Long hair can be hard to take care of, especially hair that’s constantly in a helmet, and enduring on-ice drills. Learning what conditioners and products to buy and what hats to where, comes with experience and a little help.
“Me and PA, we talk about new products out there and what we use. Technique, what we do,” Moulson said.
|Parenteau's headshot taken at the start of the 2010-11 season. He's modeling an even longer flow these days.|
“Matt Martin’s trying out-do us, I think he’s being a little silly,” Moulson jokes.
“Matt Martin, he thinks he looks like Brad Pitt,” adds Parenteau.
But as much as athletes love their flow, eventually they will have to part with it. Even defensive end Jarred Allen cut his trademark mullet, which he claimed he wouldn’t, for his wedding day. What would it take for these guys to cut their flow?
Martin plans on cutting and donating it for Locks for Love, a charity that takes hair and turns it into hairpieces for sick children. Parenteau said he would cut it for a Stanley Cup, but who wouldn’t.
The start of the season usually signals the ‘no more cuts’ date and the beginning of a new season’s flow. It’s a long season, and there won’t be a limit on how long the hair could get, unless the boss says so. It’ll be a grind, but the best thing to do, just go with the flow.
POSTED ON Sunday, 09.18.2011 / 10:24 AM
On the third day of Islanders training camp and the second day of workouts, the team will not be skating. Instead, they're testing their limits in the weight room. Check back later for new stories and updates from today.
POSTED ON Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 9:58 PM
Veteran d-man Steve Staios, who accepted an invitation to attend the New York Islanders training camp on Friday, will wear 44 with the team.
In his NHL career he has worn 48 with the Bruins, 45 and 25 with the Cauncks, 25 with the Thrashers, 24 with Edmonton and 27 with the Flames.
He reports to Islanders camp Monday.
POSTED ON Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 3:45 PM
A few notes from today:
As difficult as today’s skate was several players that spoke with newyorkislanders.com said they felt great and were happy to get through it.
PA Parenteau, who skated in the second group arrived a bit early and watched some of what was in store. He joked that he wished he didn’t watch it.
“Now it’s all said and done,” he said. “We got through this today, and makes the group even tighter.”
As far as how he feels physically?
“I feel great. I feel unbelieveable. I’m ready to go. I’m looking forward to the season.”
Evgeni Nabokov talked about being ready for camp as well.
He talked about being in practice shape, as opposed to game shape. That being said, how did he feel today?
"I feel pretty good. Nothing is bothering me. Everything is good."
And both players were smiling. A sure sign that Jack Capuano's tough testing was worth it.
The Islanders two most prolific Tweeters, Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner shared their feelings with tweets:
From @MMoulson: Probably hardest training camp day in my 6 years of pro...no messing around this year
From @Grabs40: Glad the first day off fitness testing is over..one down one to go..boys look strong and in great shape.. #seasonstart
Tough day on ice with testing and everything,glad it's over-but the guys battled hard and put a solid effort in #recoverytime #trainingcamp
POSTED ON Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 2:39 PM
Hear from Mark Streit, Brian Rolston, and PA Parenteau on the toughness of the first day of on-ice testing at Islanders Iceworks.