Hockey is back! Well, sort of. Today was the first day of training camp, and the New York Islanders made their return to the ice in two groups today. Here are the major takeaways from day one of camp:
1. Anders Lee’s Return
O Captain, my captain. After missing the second half of the regular season, and all of the playoffs, with an injury, Anders Lee is finally back. He skated on a line with Mat Barzal and Anatoly Golyshev (keep in mind that lines during training camp don’t mean anything).
In a post-practice media availability, Lee said he’s feeling good and ready for the new season. Obviously, getting the captain back is a huge boost for the Isles, so it’s great to see Anders on the ice.
2. New Faces
Some new players are attending camp, most importantly including Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara. It’s fun to see Big Z back on the Island – the last time he played for the Islanders was in April 2001. (Fun fact: Chara was drafted by the Islanders before Mat Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier were even born.)
Parise played with JG Pageau and Dmytro Timashov. Of course, this shouldn’t be taken as an indication that Timashov will be on the roster to start the year (he won’t), but it’s good to see him getting some chemistry with his probable linemate Pageau.
Chara played on a pair with Noah Dobson. That’s very good – Dobson will join star defensemen like Dougie Hamilton and Charlie McAvoy on a list of young defensemen who’ve learned from Chara. Read more about that in Michel Anderson’s article.
3. Bode Wilde
Well, it can’t all be good news. 2018 2nd round pick Bode Wilde is not attending training camp. He confirmed via Instagram that he was not invited due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19:
We learned a few days ago that one Islanders player was unvaccinated, and now we know who. As many fans on Twitter have said… this doesn’t Bode well for him. Lamoriello said that unvaccinated players won’t be participating with the team or their affiliates this year so they’ll need to find a new home for Wilde in 2021.
4. Some key players missing
According to Arthur Staple, several important Isles were not at day one:
Here’s what Barry Trotz had to say about this:
It seems that this isn’t a huge deal – an abundance of caution at the beginning of camp is always a smart idea. Martin is the only one that worries me, but “getting close” seems like a positive sign that he’ll be ready for opening night.
5. Transparency is not a priority
We shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, we still don’t know contract details for Parise or Chara, and the Islanders seem to have signed Michael dal Colle without telling anyone. But it’s still surprising just how opaque the organization is being.
For example, at training camp, players did not have their names or numbers anywhere on their jerseys. Anywhere. Their numbers were written (in very small text!) on their helmets, but aside from that, you’d just have to recognize faces (which is difficult from far away).
This isn’t a big deal. Lou will do what Lou does, and so far, it’s certainly been working. But as a fan, I do sometimes wish we could see a little bit more from the organization.
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That’s all I have for today. It’s been a long offseason, but the return of hockey is just around the corner – the preseason starts this Saturday, with the Isles’ first game on Sunday, and the regular season begins in less than three weeks!