MacDonald, who spent five seasons with the Islanders, returned to Nassau Coliseum for the first time since he was traded on February 4.
“Obviously, my first time back and everything, but I think both sides have moved on,” he told reporters on Monday. “There’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve left now, so for us we’re just worried about playing well and getting two points.”
Philadelphia was only able to leave Long Island with one point after losing to the Isles in the shootout. In his first visit back to the Coliseum, MacDonald was shown on the video board during the first period and booed by a subset of Islander fans in attendance.
The 28-year-old defenseman spent his entire career in the Islander organization – which drafted him No. 160 overall in 2006 – and, for a while, he was a part of the team’s defensive core. During the 20013-14 season, MacDonald was seeing upwards of 20 minutes of playing time a night for the blue and orange.
But as the season progressed and the trade deadline came closer, it became clear that MacDonald was on the block to be traded.
“I think anytime you’re in a position where you’re in a place you want to stay, and it kind of looks like the writing is on the wall that you’re going to get moved it takes its toll on you," MacDonald said. "But that’s part of being a professional hockey player and being an athlete. You have to realize that these things are going to happen.”
The former Islander had a little help adjusting to life in Philadelphia thanks in part to former teammate Mark Streit already being there. MacDonald ended up signing a six-year deal to stay in the City of Brotherly Love in the offseason.
Around Long Island things have certainly changed since MacDonald has left.
The Islanders now sit atop the Metropolitan division, they are off to their best start in franchise history and the team has never looked better. It is a staunch difference from the lean years that MacDonald wore the Islander logo.
“I think they had a plan all along to bring up some of their youth and that was what they kind of decided to go with,” MacDonald said about the recent success of his old club. “They’ve had some tough years there and, obviously, they had enough patience to see that what they had was for real. So far they’ve had a lot of success and it’s worked out for them. They’ve made some big pickups this offseason and obviously those guys have contributed, and done well for them.”
MacDonald stays in touch with some of his former teammates and is happy to see them doing so well on a personal level. “I think on a competitive level as an opposing team you’d rather see yourself in that type of position,” he said.
The Flyer defenseman enjoyed his time with the Islanders and enjoyed the chance they game him.
“It was great,” MacDonald said about his time in the Isles organization. “I mean, obviously I made a lot of good friends and a lot of great connections through the organization. They gave me my opportunity and I’m grateful for that.”