Life is returning to normal – after the great playoff run and series against Pittsburgh. The loss is still hard to take, but the pain is gone. Life is slowing returning to its normal routine.
Well – sort of.
As for me – I started a new journey today. This morning, I began a liquid diet in advance of bariatric surgery that I am having two weeks from today. It is journey that will help me lose a great deal of weight, and allow me to live a healthier life.
As I approach my 50th birthday in six months, I no longer wanted to be overweight, unhealthy, diabetic, and unable to do the things that a man of my age can do. This surgery, called a gastric sleevectomy, will remove 70% of my stomach. This will allow me to eat only the amount of food necessary for a normal lifestyle. I anticipate that a year after this surgery, I will have lost over 100 pounds. At that time, I should be healthier than I have been in over 30 years.
As I am making changes in my life, the Islanders have gone through a series of changes in the last few years under the watch of General Manager Garth Snow. He has been limited to certain moves, due to the fact that players did not want to come to a team that is in a state of disarray, due to an aging building, and inability to put the revenue necessary to build a winning team. Despite those drawbacks, Snow has assembled a team that is working hard, and moving in the right direction. This playoff run has made the rest of the league notice, that the Islanders are not a “Mickey Mouse” team; that they have a purpose, and with the right people and the right character, they are a team that can potentially succeed and compete with the NHL elite.
John Tavares has not become a good player; he has become an elite player. Not using my Long Island bias, but without this player, the Islanders would not even be a shadow of themselves.
If that is NOT the definition of an MVP player, then I do not know who is?
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are great players, but do their teams fall off if they are not in the lineup?
The Caps maybe a little, but we all saw how good the Pens did with Sidney out of the lineup. They did not miss a beat. To me, that is not an MVP. That is a great player (Ted Lindsay award – would more suit to him).
Other players had seasons to show that they BELONG with this team. Colin MacDonald, signed a a fill-in for Bridgeport not only stepped up and was the Captain of the Sound Tigers, but made the big club, and made significant contributions to the team.
Another was Casey Cizikas. Another player that not only made the team, but impacted so much when the stretch run was happening. He has seemed to reach cult hero status (getting near Webb like responses).
There are so many outstanding role players that have made their mark on this hockey club. And not only do they do it on the ice, but are outstanding character players as well. Garth Snow has said all along that he was players of strong character, and he has not missed the mark on any of them.
However, the GM has some big decisions coming up. He has key unrestricted free agents to deal with (Streit, Nabokov, Boyes, among others). Many a decision to make before July.
Speaking of July, what does he do on the market? Does he go out and get the stud player? With the fact of the impending move to Brooklyn in 24 months, players may look to that as a positive move. They can deal with the old barn, and know that greener pastures lie ahead. That can bring the type of player that the team may need.
But to some, including the boss, there may not be a need to stockpile the team with veteran talent. There are many players coming in the system, that may be ready to step up sooner rather than later. Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Nino Niederreiter and potentially, Griffin Rhienhart come to mind. There is talent there, and it is exciting to think of the potential fire power that this team has in its arsenal.
When was the last time that you really wished that September and training camp could happen as early as tomorrow? It has been too long. So we have to deal with the playoffs, and watching others be where we wanted to be. (Go Bruins!) But the crystal ball is seeing a lot of good things coming our way.
With the Islanders for all of us, and for the upcoming surgery for me, there is so much to look forward to. We can all be proud of what is coming up for these guys. Get on the Islander train, it is speeding away from the station and moving on to bigger and better things.