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POINT BLANK: God Bless Biloxi

Saturday, 09.03.2005 / 12:00 AM / News
New York Islanders
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POINT BLANK: God Bless Biloxi
Katrina impacts members of the Islanders' extended family

It was Thursday, Aug. 25 when Steve Stirling arrived in Biloxi, Miss. to take part in a press conference announcing a partnership between the Islanders, Sound Tigers and the ECHL Mississippi Sea Wolves.

"A great day," Stirling recalled today. "The people in Mississippi were so excited about their first affiliation with an NHL team. It got a lot of press attention locally. The Sea Wolves' staff people and fans were so warm, so welcoming to me. I flew home the next morning thinking that it was such a privilege to spend a day there and see a part of America I had never been to before."

48 hours later, Katrina arrived and changed everything - forever.

Biloxi has been ravaged by the hurricane. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. The Sea Wolves' home rink, described by Stirling as "no more than a sand-wedge from the beach," has more than eight feet of water where the ice usually is. The Beau Rivage, the beautiful casino-hotel where Stirling stayed in Biloxi¦well, you™ve probably seen the pictures on CNN.

After several tries, I finally made contact Saturday morning with my colleague, Mike Kelly, the broadcasting and media relations director of the Sea Wolves. Mike and his family retreated to a safe haven in Florida before Katrina hit. "We're very fortunate to be alive and have a safe place to stay," Mike wrote in an email. "Biloxi and the surrounding region have no power, no running water and no phone service."

As a result, the status of the Sea Wolves franchise is not only unknown, it's simply not a priority right now. Knowing their family members, friends and co-workers are safe is the only thing Mike Kelly and his colleagues care about.

Many of the homes of the Sea Wolves staffers suffered horrendous damage. In his email, Mike reported to me that they have been unable to confirm the safety and whereabouts of five members of the Sea Wolves family: one co-owner, one equipment staffer and three members of the sales and marketing team.

What do you say after hearing that?

I have no idea. All I know is that attention must be paid. The Islanders family and that includes our most important members, the fans will do something in the name of our new friends in Biloxi. Stay tuned.

For now, please consider going here to make donations to the American Red Cross.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of the Red Cross is located in Biloxi. Patricia Kraemer (pkraemer@redcross-msgc.com) is the Disaster and Emergency Services Director. Please contact her if you can help the people of Mississippi.

When the press conference on Aug. 25 was over, Coach Stirling took a drive in his rental car up and down the coast. It was a rare opportunity to see a wonderful part of our country, he thought.

"I watch CNN and MSNBC and Fox and it™s just so sad to see those clips of the Beau Rivage and the floating casinos and the buildings around the arena and, of course, the homes," said Stirling. "It's unfathomable to me that Biloxi and New Orleans and the other areas hit may never be the same."

It doesn't necessarily have to be that way. With a little help from a lot of people, the South will rise again.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 51 32 15 4 166 133 68
2 MTL 48 32 13 3 128 108 67
3 DET 50 29 12 9 149 129 67
4 NYI 49 32 16 1 158 139 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 BOS 50 27 16 7 134 124 61
7 NYR 47 28 15 4 139 112 60
8 WSH 49 25 14 10 144 125 60
9 FLA 47 21 16 10 115 132 52
10 PHI 51 22 22 7 140 151 51
11 OTT 48 20 19 9 136 136 49
12 TOR 51 22 25 4 144 156 48
13 NJD 50 19 22 9 113 138 47
14 CBJ 48 21 24 3 120 151 45
15 CAR 49 17 26 6 105 129 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 49 23 25 -1 48
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 49 9 25 15 34
B. Nelson 49 15 16 5 31
F. Nielsen 49 9 18 4 27
J. Boychuk 39 4 21 15 25
J. Bailey 37 8 14 7 22
N. Leddy 49 7 14 13 21
N. Kulemin 49 11 9 0 20
A. Lee 43 13 5 6 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 26 10 0 .912 2.42
C. Johnson 6 6 0 .865 3.43

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