HAPPY TO BE ISLANDERS
By Corey Witt
Although they checked into their hotel rooms at 3:00 in the morning last night, Denis Grebeshkov and Jeff Tambellini showed no effects of the long drive from Manchester, NH at their first practice with the Islanders today. The two newest Islanders, acquired yesterday from Los Angeles, were very happy to be Islanders.
"This is an exciting time for us," said Tambellini. "It's been a whirlwind 24 hours, but I'm sure we'll settle in quickly."
Added Grebeshkov: "This is a big opportunity for both of us. I'm very happy to be here and to have a chance to play in the NHL. I'm sure Jeff feels the same way."
Although the pair got lost driving to Long Island as they navigated the tricky New York bridges, Islanders head coach Brad Shaw said they were anything but lost on the ice.
"Anytime you come into a new environment, there's going to be an adjustment period," he said. "But for two young guys, they held their own out there. Both are skilled players and we're looking for them to step up and show us what they have."
For Tambellini, dressing in the Islanders' locker room holds special meaning. His father, Steve, won a Stanley Cup with the 1980 Islanders. Although it happened nearly four years before he was born, Jeff still feels a bit of nostalgia.
"It is special for me to be here," he said. "My father talked about that team a lot and what a great team it was. I'm just thrilled to be here. It's all very exciting."
Both Grebeshkov and Tambellini are expected to be in the lineup tomorrow night when the Islanders host the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite the trade of two veterans for two prospects, Shaw said his goal for tomorrow night and the rest of the season remains the same.
"We have the same objective -- to get into the playoffs," said Shaw. "Let's see what we have and make a run at it. Our focus has not changed."