The age old debate over fighting has been reignited in hockey thanks to the actions of Connor McDavid on Tuesday night.

In case you weren't aware, or have been under a rock the last few days, McDavid -- the consensus number one overall pick in this years draft -- broke his hand in a fight Tuesday night. Aside from the conversation over his own decision making, McDavid's injury is being used to bolster some peoples arguments against fighting in hockey.

A few weeks back, Matt Martin spoke with Islanders Point Blank about his thoughts on fighting in the sport when the debate was being talked about throughout the NHL. Martin is not a player who's sole purpose is to fight, but he is not hesitant to drop the gloves to defend a teammate or himself.

It should be noted that this conversation took place before the McDavid incident and Martin is speaking on fighting in general in the NHL.


IPB: What place do you think fighting has in the sport?

Martin: I think it's always going to have a place in the sport. I mean, obviously that's not my decision to make. People with more power are going to make those decisions, but I think it's something that the players like in the game. I think the league is starting to get away from the stage fighting, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. It's good to see guys fighting out of emotion, it's good to see guys competing. You see Jamie Benn and [Nick] Foligno the other night and you see [Ryan] Nugent-Hopkins and Dan Hamhuis fighting, and guys like this fighting. They seem to want to do it, they seem to get involved and it's a physical game. It's always been a part of the game. I think it has a place in the game and I don't really see it changing. 

IPB: What are your thoughts on some of the stuff being said about fighting in the sport? More specifically the comments made in recent weeks by Mike Milbury saying the sport needs to grow up.

Martin: Everyone has their opinion. Mike was a tough player. I think he's been in his fair amount of fights and it's his opinion. He doesn't want fighting that's fine. There's many people who don't want it. There's the same commentators and other people think that it should still be a part of the game. It's a debate that is going to go on forever. One that I really don't try to include myself in. I really don't focus on it or pay attention to it. You know how media is. They're going to talk, they're going to find things to talk about and it seems like the last three or four year it's always been a topic of debate. You just kind of learn to get used to it and deal with it as it comes.

IPB: To just take it from the other side, something you always here is that it is a way to police the game. Why can't the rule book police the game instead of the players?

Martin: I just think if there's no consequences for any actions, I guess, you never really know what to expect. I mean, not to use college hockey as a comparison, but you see it a little more. They wear cages in college hockey, they don't have fighting in college hockey and you find they don't have as much control of their sticks. I've watched a few games and you see a lot more dirty hits, I feel like. It's just when there's fighting in the game you're responsible in a way for your actions. It's in the back of your head. I don't think you really want just to rely on referees to protect the players, because there would be a lot more cheap shots. Obviously I don't know that for sure, but just from history from it I think it should be a part of the game. Guys obviously have always liked it to be a part of the game and other dressing rooms seem to want it too. It's a tough question to answer because it's an ongoing debate, but I like it and I think it should stay.

Tags: Fighting, Interviews, Islanders, matt martin, new york islanders, NHL

Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) is hit by Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) as they battle for a loose puck in front of New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)
Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) is hit by Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) as they battle for a loose puck in front of New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)

Leo Komarov scored the Islanders' lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the Ducks on Wednesday night in Anaheim.  >> Box score

First period:

  • 10:55 ANA Ryan Kesler (Power Play) Assists: Sam Steel, Rickard Rakell
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Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) has his shot blocked by Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)
Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) has his shot blocked by Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)

The Anaheim Ducks are hoping to have center Ryan Getzlaf back in the lineup when they play the New York Islanders at Honda Center on Wednesday.

Getzlaf has missed the past four games with a groin injury, but the team captain skated three days in a row before practicing with the top line on Tuesday.

"(Monday) was a day I pushed it pretty hard from a skating standpoint, and it reacted well," Getzlaf told reporters after practice Tuesday. "I skated with the guys (Tuesday), which was a more of an up-tempo, little more of that push and pull, those kinds of things, reactionary stuff, and so we'll see how it reacts (Wednesday)." >> Read More

 

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General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers (Brad Penner)
General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers (Brad Penner)

Islanders prospect and UConn freshman Ruslan Iskhakov was carted off the ice after getting knocked out by a scary hit during the Huskies' game against Quinnipiac Tuesday night in Connecticut.

Iskhakov, who was drafted by the Islanders in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, carried the puck into the offensive zone in the third period when Quinnipiac's Brogan Rafferty left his feet to deliver a crushing blow to the 18-year-old's head.

The 5-foot-7 Russian forward quickly collapsed to the ice, where he remained motionless. After several minutes, Iskhakov was able to move his arms and legs and gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he was taken off on a stretcher en route to a local hospital.

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Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) makes a save on a shot attempt by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)
Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) makes a save on a shot attempt by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)

Brock Nelson scored his 100th career goal on Saturday night in the Islanders' 5-2 loss to the Predators.

Nelson's goal came in the third quarter to put his team on the board after falling behind 3-0. The goal was Brock's first of the season after he was forced to wait the entire offseason to reach the 1,000-goal milestone.

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Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) has his shot blocked by Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)
Oct 13, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) has his shot blocked by Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)

The Islanders fell into an early 3-0 hole and couldn't recover in a 5-2 loss to the Predators on Saturday night in Nashville. << Box score 

First period

  • 15:25 NV Calle Jarnkrok; Assists: Nick Bonino, Ryan Hartman
  • 16:37 NV Filip Forsberg; Assists: Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson
  • 19:50 NV Viktor Arvidsson; Assists: Ryan Johansen, Dan Hamhuis
Tags: Andrew Ladd, Brock Nelson
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Oct 8, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders celebrate the goal by New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (24) against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Oct 8, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders celebrate the goal by New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (24) against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

It was just the fourth game in an 82-game regular season, but the Nashville Predators had a little extra incentive for Thursday night's visit from the Winnipeg Jets.

In their first meeting since Winnipeg knocked them out of the Western Conference semifinals last spring with a 5-1 Game 7 decision, Nashville pieced together its best game of the young season, getting Pekka Rinne's 52nd career shutout in a 3-0 decision.

"It's Winnipeg, you know, we just lost against them in the playoffs and you could sense that," Rinne said. "There was a lot of emotion on the ice. I thought the first period was the fastest hockey so far this year." >> Read more

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Jan Kovar (43) Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)
Jan Kovar (43) Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)

The Islanders placed F Jan Kovar on unconditional waivers on Wednesday, the team announced.

The former KHL star, who signed a reported one-year, $2 million deal with the Isles over the summer, failed to make the final cut out of training camp and never showed up to AHL Bridgeport.

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Oct 8, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) attempts to cover up the puck as San Jose Sharks center Melker Karlsson (68) and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) battle for the rebound during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Oct 8, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) attempts to cover up the puck as San Jose Sharks center Melker Karlsson (68) and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) battle for the rebound during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

NEW YORK (AP) Robin Lehner stopped 35 shots for his ninth career shutout in his New York debut, leading the Islanders to a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

Anders LeeScott MayfieldMatt Martin and Casey Cizikas scored to help New York get new coach Barry Trotz his first win at home. The Islanders, who opened the season with an overtime win at Carolina last Thursday, then lost their home opener to Nashville two nights later.

Lehner, who signed with the Islanders in July, played for the first time since last March 29 for Buffalo. He left that game against Detroit because of a panic attack and was subsequently treated for alcohol and drug addiction and also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADHD and PTSD...

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Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

NEW YORK -- The season is just two games old, but it has already been a transitional one for the New York Islanders and their new head coach, Barry Trotz.

The adaptation process will continue Monday afternoon, when Robin Lehner makes his first start for the Islanders in a Columbus Day matinee against the San Jose Sharks at Barclays Center.

It will be the third game of the season for both teams. The Islanders dropped their home opener Saturday, when they fell to the Nashville Predators, 4-3.

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Oct 6, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) celebrates his goal against New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Oct 6, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) celebrates his goal against New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Isles fought, but couldn't comeback against the Predators in a 4-3 loss in their home opener at Barclays Center on Saturday night. << Box score 

First period

  • 3:42 NSH Viktor Arvidsson; Assists: Filip Forsberg, P.K. Subban
  • 12:01 NYI Mathew Barzal; Assists: Josh Bailey
  • 16:56 NSH Mattias Ekholm; Assists: P.K. Subban, Colton Sissons
Tags: Anders Lee, Josh Bailey
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Oct 4, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders center Valtteri Filppula (51) is congratulated by his teammates after his second period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)
Oct 4, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders center Valtteri Filppula (51) is congratulated by his teammates after his second period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

NEW YORK -- The season opener Thursday night marked the official start of a new era for the New York Islanders. But Saturday night will truly reinforce the uncertainty upon which the Islanders have embarked.

The overhauled Islanders will begin their vagabond home existence Saturday night, when New York hosts the Nashville Predators at Barclays Center.

Both teams earned wins in their openers Thursday night, when the visiting Islanders edged the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in overtime, while the Predators beat the host New York Rangers 3-2. >> Read more

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Jan Kovar (43) Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)
Jan Kovar (43) Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)

The Islanders decided to send F Jan Kovar to AHL Bridgeport when making their final roster cuts. Well, Kovar hasn't showed up to the Sound Tigers. 

According to The Athletic's Arthur Staple, Kovar is taking some time to figure out what he wants to do next. 

Kovar played the past five seasons in the KHL, and joined the Islanders on a reported one-year, $2 million deal. However, he didn't impressed the Islanders enough in camp to keep him for the start of the season. 

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Valtteri Filppula (51) Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)
Valtteri Filppula (51) Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

Josh Bailey scored the game-winning overtime goal against the Hurricanes to start the Islanders' season on the right foot. << Box score 

First period

  • No Goals

Second period

Tags: Josh Bailey
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Anders Lee (27) Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Anders Lee (27) Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

The Carolina Hurricanes have undergone considerable change in the offseason, with the makeover creating heightened expectations going into the season.

That description perhaps relates to perhaps an even larger degree for the New York Islanders.

After all, fresh off coaching the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup championship, Barry Trotz is on board directing the Islanders.

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Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

The Islanders announced Thursday that Anders Lee has been named team captain, becoming the 15th captain in franchise history.

Lee replaces John Tavares, who left for the Maple Leafs as a free agent during the offseason.

"It's extremely humbling, quite an honor to be a captain of this organization," Lee said. "It's definitely one of the most special things that's happened in my hockey career."

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Cal Clutterbuck, Josh Bailey, Danny Abriano
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Sep 17, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Devon Toews (25) and Philadelphia Flyers center Mikhail Vorobyev (46) battle for the puck during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Sep 17, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Devon Toews (25) and Philadelphia Flyers center Mikhail Vorobyev (46) battle for the puck during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

The Islanders have sent D Devon Toews and C Jan Kovar to AHL Bridgeport on Tuesday, per Newsday's Andrew Gross.

President and GM Lou Lamoriello has to submit his 23-man roster by the end of the day, and Toews and Kovar were the moves necessary to reach that number. The Islanders are also waiting to see if F Tom Kuhnhackl cleared waivers, so they could send him to Bridgeport as well. 

"What you do in situations like this is give yourself flexibility, that's what we did," Lamoriello said. "If a player gets claimed, that's part of the game."

 

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Cal Clutterbuck (15) Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Cal Clutterbuck (15) Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

Islanders D Cal Clutterbuck has a new nickname, but he isn't too fond of it.

"Shuttlebuck" came about from an interview with Flyers F Robert Hagg, who expressed his hatred for Clutterbuck during an interview after the Isles preseason opener at the Coliseum. 

"It doesn't matter if you play against Martin or Shuttlebuck, or whatever it is -- I hate that guy," Hagg told The Post's Brett Cygalis. "There's that kind of player on every team."

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin
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Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

The Islanders already missed out on their coveted free agent in C John Tavares this offseason. But that is now officially in the past, and focus turns toward another Isles key cog that will see his contract expire at the end of the year as well. 

Anders Lee is in the final year of his four-year, $15 million deal, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. It is too early to tell if Lee will take Tavares' route and hear out potential suitors next offseason, but that isn't even on his mind. 

According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, Lee isn't worried about his contract situation, saying "our cases are different."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares
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New York Islanders right wing Joshua Ho-Sang (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders right wing Joshua Ho-Sang (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)

Josh Ho-Sang's Islanders career hasn't exactly gone to plan.

The Islanders made Ho-Sang the No. 28 overall pick in the 2014 Draft and last season was supposed to be his breakout campaign but he couldn't break out of Bridgeport, spending most of his season in the AHL. He played just 22 games with the Islanders, scoring four goals and adding six assists.

Tags: Josh Ho-Sang
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Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

Islanders' Mathew Barzal turned some heads last season and is being recognized as one of the best players in the league.

According to NHL Network, Barzal is the 49th best player in the NHL. The second-year man is expected to pick up much of the offensive burden left by departing John Tavares.

Last season, Barzal led the team with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists).

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders' return to the Coliseum while their new arena at Belmont Park is built continues to go smoothly thus far.

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency approved tax breaks for the Isles' renovation plans at the Nassau Coliseum, according to Newsday's Victor Ocasio. The Islanders were looking to get a $400 million to $450 million tax break to purchase new equipment, furniture and fixtures for their renovation project.

The upgrades, which will be worth $9.95 million, would deem the arena worthy to play in for the three years needed before the Belmont Park arena is finished. A $6 million state grant will pay for most of the project, while the Islanders will pick up the rest of the tab at around $3.9 million.

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Nov 11, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates after scoring a goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (not pictured) during the first period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports (Billy Hurst)
Nov 11, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates after scoring a goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (not pictured) during the first period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports (Billy Hurst)

With Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello in charge of the Islanders, center Casey Cizikas told the Islanders website that he feels like a rookie and is coming in to training camp looking to prove himself "all over again."

Cizikas has played in 413 career games, all with the Islanders, and had 7 goals and 10 assists in 64 games last season.

He said that he is excited to play under Trotz and is looking forward to the opportunity for more minutes and responsibilities with John Tavares now in Toronto.

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Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Jordan Eberle (7) gets defended by Detroit Red Wings left wing David Booth (17) during the third period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Jordan Eberle (7) gets defended by Detroit Red Wings left wing David Booth (17) during the third period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Jordan Eberle said on Tuesday that he and the Islanders have not yet discussed a contract extension.

Eberle, 28, is entering the final year of the six-year $36 million contract he originally signed as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

"To be honest I haven't had any conversations with anybody," Eberle said, per NHL.com. "Going into the summer I was trying to focus on me and being the best I can be, and come into the camp the best I can be. Once that happens you start trying to fill a role and try to make this team as good as it can be."

Tags: Jordan Eberle
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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

It's time to test your Islanders' historical knowledge as preseason hockey inches closer.

How many of the 30 players who scored 100 career goals for the Islanders can you name? Try it below!

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Dec 1, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates a goal against the Ottawa Senators by New York Islanders center Anders Lee (not pictured) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Dec 1, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates a goal against the Ottawa Senators by New York Islanders center Anders Lee (not pictured) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

In the history of the franchise, there have been 76 instances of which that an Islanders' player has scored 30+ goals in a season. How many can you name? 

Test your knowledge by playing the quiz below...

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

The Islanders may have lost C John Tavares, but new head coach Barry Trotz doesn't believe it will kill their offensive output. 

Yes, Tavares accounted for 82 points last season, but Trotz thinks he has the personnel to find offensive success this upcoming season. 

"This team can score, with John Tavares or without John Tavares," Trotz told The Athletic's Arthur Staple in a Q&A session. "The area it's failed in maybe the last year and a half is on the defensive end. Just looking at the trends over the last four years, it's clear that's an area we need to fix. ...With the John Tavares situation, we look forward, we can't look back. Guys are up to the challenge. John's a fantastic player, face of the franchise and it's a hole you can't fill with one guy. It's collectively with the group."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Mathew Barzal
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 (Christopher Katsarov)
(Christopher Katsarov)

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has no concerns over the construction of the team's new Belmont Park arena.

The Islanders were dead last in attendence at Barclay's Center last season with 12,000, so the new arena can't come soon enough. Lamoriello is optimstic and thinks people will be pleasantly surprised.

"I think you'll know better in the first of the year of an exact date," Lamoriello said on Sirius XM NHL Network Radio. "But it's not as long as people might think. I think a lot will be surprised and I think that's just great news."

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Barry Trotz Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Barry Trotz Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

It would be natural for Barry Trotz to take a nice, relaxing summer following the NHL playoff grind that saw his Washington Capitals secure the Stanley Cup. But relaxation is the polar opposite of what he has been up to.

Right after finishing the grind to win the Cup, Trotz left the Capitals and joined an Islanders team that needed a lot of work. He teamed up with new president of hockey operations, Lou Lamoriello, and has been constructing his coaching staff and roster since his transition to Long Island. 

But a quick break will be in the works next week when the Cup is in Trotz' hands for the first time since the victory on Aug. 22. He knows it will be short-lived, though. 

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

[Editor's Note: Islanders fans, we want to hear from you and share some of your viewpoints. Tweet @ChrisBottaNHL before 11:59 pm on Friday, Aug. 3 to share your prediction -- at this moment -- of where the Islanders will finish in the Eastern Conference standings at the end of 2018-19. We need the number (first? 6th? 12th?) and brief thought summarizing why. Your tweet may be used in a future Point Blank piece.]

You are Lou Lamoriello, Hall of Fame architect. You've taken over a team that has missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons and won one playoff round since 1993. Then, through no fault of your own, you lose your most celebrated player to free agency.

Suddenly, the new job is eerily familiar to your previous one with the Maple Leafs. There, you started with a thin roster and a top coach, Mike Babcock. But in 2016, you had the first pick in the draft and were gifted Auston Matthews.

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Do you remember where you were seven years ago today?

On Aug. 1, 2011, I went for a run in the village of Rockville Centre, saw the determined looks on the faces of the residents marching into South Side Middle School, and knew it right away.

The public vote to build a new arena on the Coliseum property for the Islanders was going to be a big, fat, no frickin' way.

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To hear his college coach talk about him, the Islanders may be justified in their faith that Devon Toews will be an impact defenseman this season and for many to come.

"Devon's going to be a Corsi king - a top possession defender," said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold, who took over the program in 1994 and is third among active NCAA Division I men's hockey coaches in victories. "Some people are going to be surprised about him, but not us. We know how good Devon is, and how good he's going to become."

Toews played for the Bobcats for three seasons, from 2013-2016, with an appearance in the Frozen Four in his final season. Pecknold identified Toews as an intriguing prospect and recruited him to attend the university in Connecticut with the guidance of a good connection: Matt Erhart, who played for Pecknold at Quinnipiac in the first four years of this century, was Toews' coach as a teenager with the Surrey (British Columbia) Eagles...

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New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders re-signed forward Brock Nelson to a one-year deal, the team announced Monday.

Terms of the deal were not announced, although The Athletic's Arthur Staple reports Nelson will earn $4.25 million, which is $750,000 more than he earned last season.

Nelson, 26, totaled 19 goals and 16 assists in his fifth NHL season last year, appearing in all 82 games for New York.

Tags: Brock Nelson
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Nick Leddy (L) Johnny Boychuk (55) Josh Bailey (12) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Nick Leddy (L) Johnny Boychuk (55) Josh Bailey (12) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Islanders Josh Bailey and Johnny Boychuk are sick of hearing the team doesn't have any hope next season. And more importantly, those who believe the team will lack leadership with the exit of captain John Tavares, must think again. 

These two Islanders veterans find themselves in position to take the torch, if you will, from Tavares and lead the pack. These past five seasons have been Tavares' team, but now, it is up to the collective group to work together. 

Tavares may be gone, but that doesn't mean the Islanders should be deemed out of the running already. 

Tags: John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Scott Thompson
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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

If the Islanders' arena project on the Belmont Park property faces obstacles in approvals and construction, team management has wisely negotiated a cushion.

Point Blank has learned that the Islanders' agreement with the operators of the Nassau Coliseum is not just for the next three NHL seasons, but also includes two option years for the club. Two people with knowledge of the agreement shared the information, requesting anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the issue.

This means that if the Islanders' arena in Belmont is not completed for the start of the 2021-22 season, the team has the option to continue playing at the Coliseum for at least that season and the following one...

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The Islanders' defense will improve in 2018-19 for a simple reason beyond the fact that the team is now coached by the infinitely more accomplished tactician Barry Trotz. It will be better because it could not possibly be worse than it was under Doug Weight and his band of assistants last season, when it was historically very, very bad:

Most goals allowed (293) by an NHL team since 2006-07

Allowed five or more goals in regulation and conceded at least 40 shots on goal 20 times

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders announced Wednesday that John Gruden has been named an assistant head coach under Barry Trotz.

Gruden, 48, was the head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League for the past two seasons, finishing with an overall record of 76-45-8-7.

Prior to joining the Bulldogs, Gruden worked with USA Hockey, where he was an assistant coach for Team USA of the 2016 U18 World Championships. He also worked as an assistant in other roles for USA Hockey from 2011 to 2015.

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The Front of the Barclays center is shown Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II/AP)
The Front of the Barclays center is shown Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II/AP)

We don't know if there are pictures of 10-year-old Anders Lee of Edina, Minn. in the pajamas of the first-year Wild back in the year 2000, but the Islanders might not want to take any chances.

As the Islanders embark on this uncertain three (or more)-year path to Belmont, they must learn from the John Tavares heartache. They need to control what they can control, and make their organization as attractive - or at least as less unattractive - as possible. They need to eliminate the excuses for someone else to walk out the door.

Beginning with the 2019-20 season, all of their home games must be played at the barn in Nassau County. And the plan to move all of the games to Nassau should be announced weeks before the trade deadline in February 2019.

Tags: Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Chris Botta
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Ryan Pulock (6) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Ryan Pulock (6) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Islanders D Ryan Pulock has agreed to a two-year contract, the team announced on Tuesday. 

Pulock played in 68 games with New York last season, where he totaled career highs in goals (10) and assists (22). Overall, the 23-year-old has 36 points over 84 career games.

The 15th overall pick by the Islanders back in 2013, Pulock has spent most of his career with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He has totaled 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) during his time there. 

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 (Christopher Katsarov)
(Christopher Katsarov)

The Islanders have announced that they have resigned defenseman Kyle Burroughs and Devon Toews. Both were restricted free agents and spent time with AHL affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 

Burroughs was a seventh round pick for the Islanders back in 2013. He has now spent three seasons in Bridgeport, posting a career high 25 points and a plus-minus of +16. 

Toews has spent the past two season in Bridgeport but missed the second half of the season after having a shoulder injury in January. Toews, 24, played for Quinnipiac University for three years before heading to Bridgeport. The former fourth round pick had five goals and forty assists in his first season in the AHL. 

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Now that "John Tavares" has "written" his farewell to the Islanders for The Players Tribune, here are some final Point Blank thoughts on the whole ordeal:

Tavares' piece was what you'd expect: an attempt to explain himself and thank Islander fans. The timing of its publishing was flawed; the piece posted just as the pain and anger in Islanders Country had subsided. Getting his message across by July 2 would have been more effective and heartfelt. But hey, I know how tough it is to write on deadline.

Still, it's clear from reading the piece that Tavares was very aware of the reaction of his departure, and cares what people think about him. There's nothing bad about that.

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

John Tavares thanked Islanders fans and reflected on his time with the team via a Players' Tribune letter published on Wednesday.

The former Islanders' team captain described a breakdown-like situation he endured when he was forced to choose whether to sign with the Maple Leafs or remain with the Islanders -- a decision he said he "just literally, physically could not" make.

Tavares, who turned down an eight-year deal with the Islanders in favor of a contract with the Maple Leafs, said he wrote the letter because of his "real, honest, still-there love for the New York Islanders hockey franchise."

Tags: John Tavares
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Toronto Maple Leafs NHL hockey general manager Lou Lamoriello speaks to reporters in Toronto, Friday, April 27, 2018. The Boston Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP) (COLE BURSTON/AP)
Toronto Maple Leafs NHL hockey general manager Lou Lamoriello speaks to reporters in Toronto, Friday, April 27, 2018. The Boston Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP) (COLE BURSTON/AP)

Face it: if Garth Snow had made all of the player personnel moves that Lou Lamoriello has so far as Islanders GM, there would be a march on Eisenhower Park.

In the excitement over the removal of the embarrassing regime of Snow and installation of Lamoriello as leader of hockey operations, somewhere along the line it seems people believe the legendary ex-Devils architect is untouchable.

Since the painful exit of John Tavares, there has been a lot of puffed-out chests and declarations of Hey, Screw Tavares -- We've Got Lou and We Can't Go Wrong...

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Feb 23, 2018; Gangneung, South Korea; Czech Republic forward Jan Kovar (43) goes for the puck against Olympic Athlete from Russia goaltender Vasili Koshechkin (83) in the men's ice hockey semifinals during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre. Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)
Feb 23, 2018; Gangneung, South Korea; Czech Republic forward Jan Kovar (43) goes for the puck against Olympic Athlete from Russia goaltender Vasili Koshechkin (83) in the men's ice hockey semifinals during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre. Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)

The Islanders are continuing to bolster their roster for the upcoming season with C Jan Kovar inking a one-year, $2 million deal. 

The 28-year-old played for the KHL's Magnitogorsk Metallurg since 2013, where he has totaled 286 points (97 goals, 189 assists) over 285 games. Last season, he notched seven goals and 28 assists over 54 games. 

Kovar has also represented the Czech Republic in five World Championship, including the 2017 Winter Olympics. Overall, he has six goals and 13 assists in 42 international games. 

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Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

After winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, 21-year-old Islanders forward Mathew Barzal can be the new face of the franchise with John Tavares out of the picture.

"He's a driven, driven guy to be the best player he can be," Russ Farwell, the VP of hockey operation for Barzal's junior hockey team, the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, told Newsday's Andrew Gross. "He's totally focused on his game. He's a very confident guy, too. He was a really highly touted minor player, so being the show or being the guy wasn't foreign to him. His whole life, everybody has pointed to him."

Tags: John Tavares, Mathew Barzal
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Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and New Yor Yankees general manager Brian Cashman watch the Toronto Raptors play against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and New Yor Yankees general manager Brian Cashman watch the Toronto Raptors play against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has nothing but respect for John Tavares after the former team captain opted to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"In my dealings with John, he proved himself to be a sincere, honest young man," Lamoriello told NHL.com. "He earned the right to test free agency, and that's what he did.

Tavares totaled 621 points in 669 games with the Islanders since he was drafted in 2009. 

Tags: John Tavares
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May 23, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Capitals head coach Berry Trotz talks with media after game seven of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
May 23, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Capitals head coach Berry Trotz talks with media after game seven of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

It's a time for genuine optimism around the Islanders despite captain John Tavares signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $11 million.

The team hired a new GM and president of hockey operations, Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello then hired reigning Stanley Cup champion head coach Barry Trotz. The team is rife with young talent, including Calder Trophy-winning Mathew Barzal, and will continue to take steps forward, even without Tavares.

"I know it's a big blow and everyone has the sky falling, but we're a young team," Trotz said...

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New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

Islanders F Brock Nelson has filed for arbitration, as the NHLPA announces the league-wide list. His qualifying offer is $3.5 million.

Nelson, 26, had 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists) last season. He was a first-round pick (30th overall) in 2010. He's scored at least 14 goals in each of his five professional seasons and has missed just two games in the last four years. 

He has the highest qualifying offer among the five Islanders. 

Qualifying offers are issued to restricted free agents whose team wishes to retain their negotiation rights.

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Mar 29, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner (40) looks to make a save during the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)
Mar 29, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner (40) looks to make a save during the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)

After most of the free agent goaltenders had come off the free agent board (Carter Hutton, Jonathan Bernier, Petr Mrazek, among others), the name of Robin Lehner stood out as the best available one for the Islanders to sign on a low-risk, one-year deal. On Tuesday, Erik Karlsson was all the rage and then the Islanders traded for prodigal son Matt Martin, so my plans to write about Lehner got put on the back burner.

When the Islanders signed him on Tuesday afternoon, I laughed out loud…and liked the move even more.

With the Islanders having so many tough, fearless, edgy fourth-line forwards in the fold, why not add the equivalent in goal? The Islanders may not be the most skilled team next season, but you can't blame Lou Lamoriello for "making it look mean."

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Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
		 (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

Islanders GM and president Lou Lamoriello saw franchise player John Tavares walk out the door last week, but says the Isles did everything in their power to prevent it.

"We did everything we possibly could to keep John," Lamoriello said Thursday on Sirius XM NHL radio. "He's a quality player. He's now with another team. That's the past."

Tavares bolted the Isles for his hometown Maple Leafs, while also passing on joining the Sharks, Bruins, and others. And with Tavares gone, the Isles should be on a three-year plan as they prepare for their new arena, says SNY contributor Chris Botta...

Tags: John Tavares
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