Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Billy G gets a C

The New York Islanders still smarting a bit after watching Ryan Smyth head back west and Jason Blake leave for Toronto gave their fans a bit of positive reinforcement on Monday. Garth Snow and Ted Nolan announced that recent free agent acquisition Bill Guerin would become the 11th player to wear the C as Islanders captain.

While clearly back into a rebuilding mode after a brief playoff run in this years playoffs, the Islanders decided to look to Guerin for on ice leadership for a team that has struggled in that department for a number of years.

Fresh from a contract signing that will see him earn 9 million dollars for two years in the blue and orange, Guerin will be the face of an ever changing Islander squad that seeks to get back to the halcyon days of Smith, Potvin, Bossy et al. Whether Guerin in his declining years will be able to recapture some of his past scoring exploits will prove to be the key point to the Islander signing.

They had rolled the dice large at the trade deadline in their quest to bring in Ryan Smyth, hopeful that he would look at the chance to help reclaim hockey glory on Long Island But with a phone call from Joe Sakic and a chance to join the Colorado Avalanche, Smyth moved on and the Isles had to go to plan B.

A plan which seems to involve creating a first line out of free agents as Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedetenko picked up their Blue sweaters just before the Guerin announcement. Also joining the Isles through the free agent market is Jon Sim.

Last year was a learning curve for the Islanders as Ted Nolan got himself back in the coaching saddle and tried to coax his team to exceed the expectations of the Islander faithful over the last few years. He came up a little short, but had a pretty good run leading up to the playoffs, only to have the good vibrations come to an end at the hand of the Buffalo Sabres in the first round.

They’ll be calling on history and pride in 2007-08, hoping that Guerin’s experience and the excitement of the newcomers will mesh with the remaining Islanders, taking them further by the time next May rolls around.

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