Scott Gordon was talking to a trio of reporters today about the hurdles of teaching with so many players missing games and practices in the first half. He specifically mentioned the season-opening setbacks for Rick DiPietro, Mike Sillinger and Mike Comrie and then the run of injuries to Frans Nielsen, Trent Hunter, Nate Thompson, Freddy Meyer, Andy Sutton, Kyle Okposo and on and on and on.
Referring to the lack of anything close to a consistent lineup, Gordon said, "The first half of the season, to me, was a waste. There was no development of chemistry because we didn't have our full team."
Not even close. Joining the media scrum in the coach's office mid-way through, I saw an opportunity to broach a much-debated topic on this blog. You know, the one about the Islanders' off-the-charts man-games lost to injuries in recent seasons.
The Islanders will undoubtedly monitor the troubling trend. But Gordon today said that most of the Islanders' injuries "were the stuff you can't control."
As for the proliferation of groin and hip injuries, Gordon said very few NHL teams have been fortunate to not get the bug. "It's happening almost everywhere around the league," he said. The quality of ice and the new models of skates are other factors being looked at. "The new skates," Gordon said, "there's absolutely no give to them at all." (I can confirm hearing the same from dozens of players, coaches, trainers and scouts the last few years).
I told the Islanders head coach directly about many of the Comments on this blog questioning the effectiveness of the team's training and strength and conditioning staff. Gordon said he understood the fans' frustration over the lengthy injury list and he was right there with them.
Then he mentioned the more than 200 man-games lost by DiPietro, Sillinger and Sutton combined, plus the injuries of Joey MacDonald, Thompson, Hunter, Sutton and Nielsen (broken ankle after hitting a rut in the ice while absorbing an elbow to the head by Mike Mottau).
"There's not one strength coach or trainer who could have prevented the majority of our injuries," Gordon said. "If there was, I can tell you he'd be a really rich man."