Holiday Wishes From Our Family To Yours

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Christmas is described as such on Wikipedia….

Christmas (Old EnglishCrīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ‘s Mass“) is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ[6][7] and a widely observed culturalholiday, celebrated generally on December 25[3][4][5] by billions of people around the world.[2][8] A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes theAdvent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night.[9] Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations,[10][11][12] is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians,[1][13][14] and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.’

Celebrated by billions of people around the world. Incredible when you think about that.

The true spirit of the season in recent years has given way to the media hysteria surrounding retail sales as people rush out, some last-minute, to get a family member they have not spoken to in six months that perfect gift. It’s become for some more about receiving than giving with the real message being buried somewhere underneath the exterior of a Christmas tie or sweater.

For me the meaning of Christmas, even for my own children, has never been about that. The time that we spend together, the laughs that we enjoy and the general warm feeling that you get when everyone is gathered around the dinner table is what makes the holiday so special.

There are some that have lost significant others this year and won’t be going for seconds however. They will live on in spirit and be remembered always for the good times shared and memories that were exchanged over the years. We should not mourn these people this holiday season, but instead celebrate their life. Many made a tremendous impact in a positive way on the ones they left behind. That is the kind of legacy I can only hope to leave to my family upon my departure.

At Eyes On Isles, we have had a tremendous year that feels like something of a whirlwind. It all started in the early spring of 2013 when Rich Dias and I teamed up and set out to make this the best Islanders website we possibly can. Provide in-depth, carefully thought out, well written analysis of the team that we grew up to love over many hockey seasons. Rich and I will forever be partners in this endeavor and what we have carved out among the many internet sites, for us, has been truly special.

It was shortly afterwards, Mike Willhoft, our senior staff writer, arrived on our doorstep. The soon to be Columbia journalism major has been nothing short of a Shakespeare of the keyboard, providing excellent writing to go along with a biting sense of humor that at times, has had us in stitches (if you don’t follow him on Twitter, you really should. He is very easy to find).

Chris Triantafilis, who ran his own blog over at Islanders Optimism, then joined our writing team and brought his thoughts on the club over to Eyes On Isles. Keeping up with a hectic work schedule and writing for two sites, Chris has been a tremendous asset who has answered the call when we have needed to cover certain events quickly.

It was in August of 2013 when we were granted an interview with the Islanders PR team to become credentialed members of the New York media. As Rich, Mike and myself entered the conference room, presentation in tow, we proceeded to map out our vision of the website over the course of an hour-long meeting. The credentials were granted and we are humbled, honored and privileged to have been given the opportunity to get that level of access to the team.

It has led us to make the acquaintance of such tremendous people within the journalism field as well.  Arthur Staple, Newsday’s excellent beat reporter for the team, has become an outstanding friend and mentor to the site, helping us in our rookie season. Howie Rose, Butch Goring, Stan Fischler…the list goes on and on and they all know us by name now. It is something I could have never expected. Other credentialed members of the media such as Gary Harding, Christian Arnold, Tony Stabile and Brad Kurtzberg have all been just as important to our experience.

The rest of our team is rounded out by a great stable of writers and personalities. We have coverage in Florida (Eric Bordin), Chicago (Reagan King) ,Oswego, NY (Jon Zella) and Atlantic Canada (Joe Powers).  Pete McEntee is our youngest and brightest upcoming star and really has meshed in so well with the rest of the team. His wit, sense of humor and maturity are truly well beyond his years. Joe Pantorno decided to join us after interning with Mr.Staple and has provided excellent professional coverage. And I would be remiss to leave out Shane Blackburn, who became our podcast director and is the heart, soul, voice and equipment of the weekly Dump and Chase podcast. We could not have done that without him.

At the end of the day, this site does not work without every member of this team and their intelligence, wit, professionalism, humor and hard work means so much to our success not as individuals but as a whole. I am truly grateful to every staff member who has made this a great journey.

As we enter 2014, we want to continue with our goal of giving you, the reader and listener, the best coverage we possibly can. I know that not all support our vision of cautious optimism sometimes when it comes to the team and wish we would push a different message at times but I hope you all respect the hard work and dedication it takes to run a website like ours. And understand that journalism is not always a witch-hunt. It’s reporting and commenting on what you can see and can prove, not what you assume.

We know that this site would not exist without you and we truly appreciate all the eyes and ears that have become our base over 2013. Believe me when I tell you, we are not in this for the money, that’s for sure. We have noticed a tremendous uptick in comments on the site over the past month and are ecstatic that many of you are taking the time out to interact with us. Sometimes it’s logical, sometimes it’s not. But it’s always appreciated and respected.

In closing, I would like to extend the most sincere Christmas and holiday wishes from my entire team to yours. I speak for my entire staff when I say it has been our pleasure to keep this site rolling along and we have no plans to slow down in 2014.

Thanks for always being there to read our site and listen to our podcast.

Be safe and remember, laughter is the cure to everything. Do it as often as you can. For it’s a lot better than crying. And sometimes, maybe… isn’t everything.