Hockey from the Blind Side, Dan Boyle and Other Catching Up

I am, as usual, catching up here. I wanted to take a few moments to comment on the radio show Gary and I did for
Sports Radio New York
last Sunday. The focus, as I believe Gary had indicated, was actually on the New York Rangers, instead of our usual focus of the Isles. It is, though, supposed to be a show about all New York sports, so we have to give our cross-town rivals some air time.

We were joined by, Derek Wasiak, the host of the New York Sports Exchange, and we first spoke to him and got his take on the New York Rangers run to the Stanley Cup finals against the Los Angeles Kings. Derek knows his stuff, and his enthusiasm and passion for the Rangers and the game of hockey are things that are admirable to me and aspects I quickly found myself respecting. Of course, I am a blue and orange bleeding New York Islander fan, but I also love the game of hockey and deeply respect and admire the guys who play the game, regardless of the sweater they wear on the ice. When I encounter a fan who shares that same opinion of the game and despite rooting for my “rivals”, I do not mind at all listening to his or her opinions and discussing the game with them. I learned a lot from Derek, and he is the type of fan I could spend hours speaking to.

In our second half hour, we were joined by Steve Zipay from Newsday. Steve covers the Rangers, and we got his thoughts and opinions about the Rangers as well. Again, for the most part, my main focus and attention is on the Isles, but I also learned a lot from Steve and feel that my proverbial horizons were expended. It was interesting and educational to hear Steve talk about the Blue Shirts and ask him questions about a team that as much as a part of me may find it disconcerting to have in the Finals, I still have to respect and appreciate what they have done.Let’s face it, folks. We all know that regardless of who we root for, you have any number of people in your fan base who are simply “idiots”. Even among the Islander fan friends and family I have, I will readily admit there are a few people who embarrass me with the comments they have made and the opinions they have uttered in discussions. I do not mind a healthy debate and a lively discussion, but when you deal with someone who can only repeat, in a thousand different forms, that your team “sucks” and every guy on your team is “worthless”, I see no point in even talking hockey with them. We all have dealt with such people, and, sadly, for whatever the reason, a lot of my Ranger fan friends fall into this category.

Thus, to converse with Derek was a breath of fresh air for me. It’s clear that he is fully behind the Rangers and bleeds for them as much as Gary and I do for the Islanders. Yet, we could have a civil and informative conversation with him and get both the negatives and positives about “his team”. Again, I have to respect such a fan, and I would gladly share a show with him again or go onto his show to talk Isles with him.

Steve Zipay may have discussed some of the things Gary, Derek and I did, but his take was just as valuable to me. His thoughts about The Rangers “role players” and who has been stepping up for them taught me a lot about how the Rangers have gotten to the Finals. His echoing my feelings that Henrik Lundqvist has just been in the zone and has taken over games was also interesting to me. as an Islander fan, you might not want to “like” the Rangers net minder, but as a hockey fan, I have to give him credit and tip my hat to him for the job he has done.
However the Stanley Cup Finals might turn out, I learned a great deal about the Rangers and have a much different appreciation for them than I certainly had in 1994 when I was surrounded by Ranger fans who took much of the respect and props away from their team that I would have given them at that time. I will go on record here stating that I do not “dislike” or have any kind of negative feelings towards the New York Rangers team. I just wish that I had more friends like Derek among my circle who root for the Blue Shirts.

As for some Islander news I wanted to comment on, I’ve already heard and read a lot about the Dan Boyle trade. I have heard enough from a few people (you know who you are) about his age and how the Sharks didn’t want to re-sign him because he’s a “has been”. The guy put up 36 points last season and had 2 goals over a season in which he came back from an injury and admittedly felt that he came back a little too soon.
Personally, I feel that this move was a very intelligent and valuable one from Garth Snow. Yes, Boyle has to be signed, but I am sure this will be done before July 1. This will only help the power play with a veteran presence to help Lubo. Yes, that means that there is one less roster spot for the multiple guys who will be looking to earn one, but that only gives the Islanders more depth on the back line.

With Jaroslav Halak signed and Dan Boyle potentially in the fold, I think Garth has addressed some major areas of concern. A solid backup goaltender and, possibly, a top 6 left winger would be about my only parts of a “wish list” left to be fulfilled. I don’t think Mr. Snow is quite done yet. As I said in a previous post, I would not be surprised at all if there is a draft day deal of some kind and the #5 pick being part of it. Call it a “gut feeling”, but I just sense that Something else is going to happen.

In any event, let me thank Derek Wasiak for being a part of the show and providing us with the New York Ranger perspective, and Steve Zipay of Newsday for being our guest. I wish your Blue Shirts good luck in the Finals and I look forward to speaking to you guys in the future.

John Panarese

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