The New York Islanders officially welcomed back a familiar face today, announcing they have reached an agreement with defenseman Radek Martinek on a one year/600k contract.
Skating with the club for the better part of the last week and a half should give Martinek a definite edge in terms of re-learning the system that head coach Jack Capuano employs but also leads to a couple of other key points.
The other key element in this signing is the still uncertain status of clear number one defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who is still out with a concussion suffered on Saturday night versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
Concussions are the most tricky of all injuries, not to diagnose, but to predict a recovery from. Once symptoms dissipate, its skating first and pushing the body to physical limits before having to pass the league’s mandatory protocol. Only then can a return can even be estimated.
Clearly having trouble in their own zone, Martinek will bring a tremendous veteran presence to the blue line and be more than helpful in the transition game, which has clearly suffered both with and without Visnovsky.
The 37 year old has played 11 seasons in the National Hockey League, amassing 107 points in 473 career games. Battling injury problems himself, he has not played more than 69 games in a single season with the Islanders spanning 10 years.
But the team clearly needs him right now in the wake of unsettled play and injuries and the hope is he can provide the boost to protect not only Evgeni Nabokov and Kevin Poulin, but offer a little offensive punch to a defensive corps which has not scored an even strength goal this season.
After seeing the play of heralded rookie Matt Donovan last night and his prowess in the offensive zone, there should not be any logical reason to believe he will be the odd man out when the lineup is set for Friday night in Pittsburgh.
At the very least, it will offer Islanders fans on social media a lot to talk (argue) about before the game and most definitely after.
The feeling of a hockey ‘reunion’ or quite possibly ‘old timers day’ can be referenced as it has certainly been an interesting week for the Islanders. The return of John Tororella last night followed by a playoff rematch with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Friday, then the anticipated ‘welcome back’ of former captain Mark Streit on Saturday when the Flyers head into Long Island.
And now Radek joins the party.