Chris Botta

Chris Botta is a contributor to SNY

 (Billy Hurst)
(Billy Hurst)

The Islanders' victory in St. Louis on Saturday night showed why Doug Weight is the right coach for this team, and why his club will qualify for this season's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The win was the second time in the last few weeks that the Islanders rebounded well from flat performances. The first was on Oct. 28, when Weight's team blew out the Cup-finalist Predators in Nashville after a bad game in Minnesota two nights earlier. Beating the Blues the night after the Islanders stunk in Dallas showed something. As lost as they looked against the Stars, they found their game at the start in St. Louis.

That's not easy to do.

Tags: John Tavares, Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Chris Botta
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

I wanted to love the Barclays Center when I went to my first Islanders game there two years ago. I grew up in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - twice, actually. The first time was as a child from Hicksville, with the sweetly-gruff security man Mr. Buonagura popping the door open for me and his son Paul on Saturday nights so we could take seats just before the press table in the last row of the old barn. The second time was for the first two decades of adulthood, where I learned a lot about life through some extraordinary times as an Islanders employee.

So when I walked into the Barc for my first game, I didn't want to be that guy who thought everything new was bad.

It didn't last long...

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Calvin De Haan, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal, Nikolay Kulemin, Chris Botta
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Oct 6, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)
Oct 6, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)

Almost a decade ago, Brendan Witt was the veteran in the corner, quietly enjoying a moment of Zen and a cup of locker room Joe while his younger teammates stretched and gabbed about the night before. When the former Islanders defender visited his old team after their game in Los Angeles last month, Witt grinned when he learned the contemplative veteran in the corner with the coffee was now Josh Bailey.

"Bails was such a great kid," Witt recalled of his teammate's rookie season yesterday in a phone conversation from California. "Quiet, reserved…just 18 years old. He had an eagerness to learn what it took to make it in the NHL. Billy Guerin took him under his wing and we all tried to do our best for Josh. It was a tough season, but people should understand that Bails always had the determination. He cared. Stayed after practice, lived in the weight room. Never stopped putting in the time, asking the right questions.

"He's a very good NHL player now. To see him get better every year and really take off lately is gratifying for any of us around back then."

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New York Islanders head coach Al Arbour waves to fans as he leaves the ice with his wife Clarie after returning to the Islanders to coach his 1500th hockey game as Islanders head coach against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Betz) (Ed Betz/AP)
New York Islanders head coach Al Arbour waves to fans as he leaves the ice with his wife Clarie after returning to the Islanders to coach his 1500th hockey game as Islanders head coach against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Betz) (Ed Betz/AP)

Glasses probably attached, Al Arbour came into this world 85 years ago yesterday and remains a warm, stern and wonderful father figure in so many corners of Islanders Country. When Al walked into a room, you knew it. Few people in any walk of life have used their charisma, commanding presence, booming and sometimes soothing voice for more good.

The greatest coach in any sport ever? A few others tend to be in the forefront of the debate, but you can never go wrong by waving the Islanders' nineteen consecutive playoff series victories in your opponent's face. In any friendly arguments at the bar, I prefer to say, Al Arbour was just the greatest, man.

You've heard many of the tales of the Islanders' evolution under Al from 1973 through the four straight Stanley Cups. So let's just take it back a quarter-century to the other time he performed miracles, with the 1992-93 Islanders, for an example of how he pushed the right buttons.

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Five years ago last week, Charles Wang announced that the Islanders would move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season. Although that 25-year lease agreement - erroneously reported to be a windfall of cash that would keep the Islanders flush for a generation - turned out to be toilet paper, it's a good time to consider Wang's legacy as Islanders owner.

The view from here is simple: If you have ever cared about the New York Islanders, then you should know that Wang is the person who kept them here - against all odds, against all reason, possibly at times to the detriment of his sanity. That's his legacy. That's why, for all the times over 16 years when Wang or his hockey team made you hang your head or bang it on the table, this is why he should be remembered fondly.

At the urging of his close friend, former senator Al D'Amato, Wang bought the Islanders in April 2000 to keep the Islanders in New York and -- hopefully someday in the following decade -- build a new arena for Long Island as the centerpiece of development of the Nassau HUB. (All these years later, I instinctively dry-heave whenever I hear that three-letter word)...

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Five years ago last week, Charles Wang announced that the Islanders would move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season. Although that 25-year lease agreement - erroneously reported to be a windfall of cash that would keep the Islanders flush for a generation - turned out to be toilet paper, it's a good time to consider Wang's legacy as Islanders owner.

The view from here is simple: If you have ever cared about the New York Islanders, then you should know that Wang is the person who kept them here - against all odds, against all reason, possibly at times to the detriment of his sanity. That's his legacy. That's why, for all the times over 16 years when Wang or his hockey team made you hang your head or bang it on the table, this is why he should be remembered fondly.

At the urging of his close friend, former senator Al D'Amato, Wang bought the Islanders in April 2000 to keep the Islanders in New York and -- hopefully someday in the following decade -- build a new arena for Long Island as the centerpiece of development of the Nassau HUB. (All these years later, I instinctively dry-heave whenever I hear that three-letter word)...

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Mar 25, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Joshua Ho-Sang (66) (Anthony Gruppuso)
Mar 25, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Joshua Ho-Sang (66) (Anthony Gruppuso)

In ten years as Yankees manager, Joe Girardi led one team to a World Series championship, and another one -- with some incredible young players, but thought to be a little while from contending -- to Game 7 of the ALCS. In that time, he faced the music for his decision-making with a large press corps twice a day for nearly 200 days a year.

In just the latest illustration of the enormous advantage the general manager has of schmoozing the owner in the suite, on the road and over the phone, Garth Snow has out-lasted Joe Girardi in New York.

Josh Ho-Sang is no different than any of the talented and dedicated hockey players before him that have been sent to the minors. His focus should be on putting the work in, being a good teammate, and returning to the Islanders.

Tags: John Tavares, Josh Ho-Sang, Michael dal Colle, Chris Botta
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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

Invitations were distributed a few months ago for the latest pre-game gathering of Islanders alumni, but this time would be different.

Second-year Islanders majority co-owner Jon Ledecky didn't just send invitation letters to the usual dozen or so former stars. That's the way it had been done for decades by previous management. The inspiration now was, if you even donned an Islanders sweater for just one game, you deserved to be there.

Literally, if you were even just once an Islander, you are always an Islander.

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin, Ryan Pulock, Chris Botta
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New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow (Ed Mulholland)
New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow (Ed Mulholland)

 The lead today comes from…Today's Tweeted Question:

@SP19hockey asked, "12 years of Snow. Love Game of Thrones but that's TOO much winter for Isles. Any chance at change of season?"

No...

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Jaroslav Halak, Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Thomas Greiss, Chris Botta
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New York Islanders center John Tavares (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Like every story, there are at least two sides to the drama surrounding John Tavares and his future with the New York Islanders. Let's start with the dark side.

Beyond only certain corners of the New York metropolitan area, the real, hard truth is that it's difficult to find anyone who believes Tavares will sign another long-term contract with the Islanders.

If you were to run into any NHL power broker, influencer, or insider who is unaffiliated with the Islanders and bought them a few shots of Jameson, they might tell you any or all of the following...

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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 (James Guillory)
(James Guillory)

From Scott Gordon to Jack Capuano and now Doug Weight, the legacy continues.

On the MSG postgame show Wednesday night -- almost always the "Happy Recap," win or lose -- Weight talked about how the Islanders "did some great things." Moments after, in speaking with the press, Weight pointed out, "We did a lot of good things on the power play."

The Islanders lost in Anaheim, 3-2. They have won one of their first four games. After going 0-5 last night, Weight's team is now 0-15 on the power play this season...

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Cal Clutterbuck, Johnny Boychuk, Ryan Pulock, Chris Botta
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Picture ARod going on Fox in the middle of this Yankees playoff series, and saying he hears that Joe Girardi will be fired no matter what. Or Ron Duguay going on MSG Network early in this Rangers season, and declaring that Rick Nash will be traded before Christmas.

This just doesn't happen. Usually, former athletes straddle the line in their broadcast jobs when talking about their old teams.

But this is Islanders Country, where…oh, for once, can everybody just leave this franchise alone?

Tags: Josh Ho-Sang, Ryan Pulock, Chris Botta
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 (John Geliebter)
(John Geliebter)

The players are no longer getting coffee in the locker room and whispering to each other, "Cappy still here?"

A third goalie isn't being stashed on the roster, and limiting the reps of the excellent No. 1 and 1As, because of the long-shot notion he's the next Patrick Roy.

As a result, and because of the simple fact that they have the player personnel to get it done in a conference that is not steeped in quality, the Islanders will qualify for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs...

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Jaroslav Halak, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Nick Leddy, Thomas Greiss, Chris Botta
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Islanders Point Blank founder and former SNY contributor Chris Botta will be back with us this season, posting multiple columns each week.


When we last left off about five years ago, the New York Islanders were a franchise without a long-term home -- a team entering each season merely yearning to grab one of the final playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

While many faces - including the latest batch of intriguing young players - have changed, in the big picture, not a lot else has.

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