A few days ago, former NY Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss announced his retirement. Greiss played for six teams in his career but played at his best while donning the blue and orange sweater as a very under-the-radar Islander who made a significant impact.
Greiss came to Long Island under the Garth Snow regime when he was 30, having a few years in the league under his belt. Greiss's role was the backup goalie, but during his time as an Islander, he proved his worth in gold and was often the number one guy or the co-number one for the Islanders.
During his five regular seasons with the Islanders, Greiss was 101-60-17 with a 2.70 goals against and a .915 save percentage. Those are terrific numbers when you consider the 2017-18 season (the year before Lou Lamoriello & Barry Trotz showed up) when the Isles were by far the worst defensive team in the league, allowing 3.57 goals per game, hanging their goalies out to dry on a nightly basis.
Greiss also shined in the playoffs for most of his Islanders career. Almost all of his playoff appearances were as an Islander (just 40 minutes with the San Jose Sharks), appearing in 16 games. Greiss had a playoff record of 7-8 with a goals against of 2.41 and a save percentage of .921.
Greiss stood tall at critical moments during the Islanders' playoff runs. He was a pivotal part in the Islanders' first playoff series victory since 1992, as Greiss was in goal when John Tavares finished off the Florida Panthers in overtime of Game 6 in the 2016 first round.
When the Isles were forced to a Game 7 in the bubble versus the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2020, Trotz turned to Greiss with a birth in the Eastern Conference Finals on the line. Greiss was a rock for the Isles as they beat the Flyers 4-0, showing up for his team when he was needed most.
Greiss was part of the goalie tandem with Robin Lehner winning the Jennings Trophy in the 2018-19 season. That season the Isles went from worst to first during the regular season in terms of goals allowed per game (went from 3.57 to 2.33), with Greiss being a key factor.
During their time in the bubble, Ilya Sorokin was practicing and getting to know his teammates while still unable to play in games practice. With Semyon Varlamov under contract for the following season and Greiss on the last year of his contract at age 34, his time was coming to a close with the Islanders, still taking the time to make Sorokin as comfortable as possible.
Trotz relayed a story during one of his press conferences about how Greiss was helping Sorokin in practice in the bubble, helping him familiarize himself as smoothly as possible. Trotz commented that is the kind of extraordinary person Greiss is.
When one thinks of Greiss as an Islander, what comes to mind is a strong, consistent performer - a team-first player, who caused no drama, was ready when called upon, a calm presence in the net, and most of all, a great teammate.