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The big news this morning is tangentially related to the Islanders -- their soon to be cross-borough rivals may have to vacate their home arena in Manhattan. 10 years from now.

By virtue of a 47-1 (!) New York City Council vote yesterday, Madison Square Garden has been granted an extension of it's operating permit?for the next 10 years. Mayor Bloomberg had recommended a 15-year extension and the Garden itself was hoping for literally an infinite extension, but the Council decided upon 10. The Garden?has to renew this permit every so often to retain the right to continue existing on top of Penn Station. In 1963, the old Penn Station was demolished to make way for the transit/sports sandwich that now sits on the site, consisting of Penn Station and the Garden, and was given a 50-year operating permit.

The reason this extension is so significant and possibly the beginning of the end for the Garden, is that the City Council seems to have every intention of kicking the Garden out of Penn Station after the 10 years is up. That time frame is the Council's guess as to how long it will take the city to come up with funding and, you know, a plan as to how to rebuild Penn Station.

Tags: Islanders, james dolan, madison square garden, the morning skate
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The Islanders acquired Tim Thomas yesterday, but not exactly to play hockey. As far as GM Garth Snow knows, Thomas is still at home in Colorado and not skating. Thomas was acquired for a conditional 2nd round pick; if Thomas ever plays for the Islanders or the Islanders trade him, Boston gets the pick. If he hangs out in the Rocky Mountains and the Islanders let his contract expire, the Islanders don't lose a thing.

Yesterday, GM Garth Snow told Arthur Staple the move was about "roster flexibility."

This is the NHL we're in now, where for some teams clearing cap space has a value and for others hitting the cap floor has a value. Enter the Bruins and the Islanders, each at one side of that spectrum. Neither team really gave anything up in this deal unless Thomas moves to the ice or another team, but both gained something.

Tags: Islanders, morning skate, News, Editorial Aside, tim thomas
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The story of the Islanders first seven games was clearly their special teams, as they were ranked 1st in the league in both penalty killing and power play going into Sunday's game against New Jersey. After Sunday's 0-for-7 the power play dropped to 5th in the league at 29% and Steve Bernier's first goal, only the second goal the Islanders penalty kill has allowed this year, dropped them to third at a hair under a 93% success rate. These stats are still great numbers and the team deserves credit for them, but the game against the Devils also showed how much this team is living and dying by the success and failure of their special teams. They're going to need to play better 5-on-5 hockey, as the team will eventually have to come back to earth and start producing "normal" man advantage numbers.

At 29%, the Islanders are still well ahead of what even the best teams have historically done on the power play. Last year's best mark was 21.6% from Nashville and no team has posted better than 25.5% in the last five years (Detroit did that twice in 2007-08 and 2008-09). The Islanders could certainly keep up a torrid pace and be at the top of the league this year -- they were 8th last season so it's not out of the question -- but I seriously doubt their ability to stay near the 30% mark.

What's really surprising about this early going is how good the penalty kill has been, as the Isles were 23rd (80.5%) in the league last season. The top unit of Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic has been quite good, with help from Evgeni Nabokov in goal (Nabokov has an excellent .943 save percent when playing 4-on-5). They're playing well and only slightly above what's possible, at 92.9% when the league high is usually in the upper 80s. It'll be important for these players to continue to play well on the penalty kill.

Tags: Islanders, morning skate, News, Editorial Aside
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https://twitter.com/TGfireandice/status/295532548321333248

UPDATE: That means we'll likely see the same line combinations the Devils rolled out in practice yesterday, starting with Stefan Matteau on the first line at left wing.

Here's what else Devils fans should expect to start the game tonight, with Martin Brodeur in net:

Tags: Devils, Devs, Lineup Changes, Morning Skate, New Jersey Devils, Tweets
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The Devils rolled the same lines from Saturday's game at today's morning skate, meaning you should expect the same forward lines against the Flyers tonight, at least to start. As a reminder, here's the line combos:

Zubrus-Zajac-Kovalchuk

Tedenby-Elias-Clarkson

Tags: Devils, Devs, Lineup Changes, Morning Skate, New Jersey Devils
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Yesterday, Jacob Josefson and Travis Zajac sat out practice to "rest," according to coach Pete DeBoer. Both players were back out on the ice today and will play tonight against the Flyers.

[tweet https://twitter.com/Ledger_NJDevils/status/293738261099196416 align='center']

[tweet https://twitter.com/Ledger_NJDevils/status/293739264066330624 align='center']

Tags: Devils, Devs, Injury Report, JACOB JOSEFSON, Morning Skate, New Jersey Devils, TRAVIS ZAJAC
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Well, we're back to some sense of normal. I guess normal in the sense that we can get back to talking about what's happening on the ice rather than in a asylum meeting room in midtown. It feels weird, it's been too long, but it feels good.

The owners and players have still yet to vote on the CBA, which means everything is not finalized yet. At this point, it seems like those votes should, hopefully, be a formality. The majority will likely vote based on the recommendations of their leaders and barring anything crazy, we should be good to go and have hockey soon.

According to Pierre Lebrun, a January 19th start date looks probable and that would make for a 48-game season.

Tags: Islanders, lubomir visnovsky, morning skate, News, Editorial Aside
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Or is asking for them to be sane asking too much?The NHL and NHLPA have brought back in government mediators and met separately with the mediators yesterday. More of that is expected today... I'm not holding my breath.



Would amnesty be used on Slick Rick?When it comes to RDP and the Islanders, you never know just how things will work out. While buying him out seems like the obvious choice, well, you just never know. Lighthouse examined the whole situation pretty thoroughly the other day, and had two interesting sticking points that could muddle the relatively easy decision:

It does cause some problems for the Islanders to amnesty DiPietro, however. It would definitely make it harder for the cash-strapped club to make the salary cap floor. $4.5 million is a lot to make up for a club who needed to ride Brian Rolston's undeserved $5 million contract last season for cap purposes.

Tags: brock nelson, Islanders, morning skate, News, nino niederreiter, Editorial Aside, Rick DiPietro, stefan persson
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On Tuesday the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) announced that it would be joining the lockout negotiations, attempting to bring together two very prickly sides; the NHL and NHLPA. The FMCS is an independent government agency that helps mediate disputes, mostly when it comes to labor issues. It had been involved in last year's NFL lockout, which lasted about six months and didn't result in any cancelled regular season games.

The lockout doesn't get much coverage on this site, aside from acknowledging its existence, since there isn't really a "correct" side as far as I'm concerned. Both sides knew what they were getting into; a long dug out war to get what they want. One side may be less wrong than the other (*cough* players) but it's hard for me to really give a damn about millionaires and billionaries monetary demands when half of the people I graduated college with don't have a full-time job (among other issues in the world).

But regardless, it's worth noting when the government gets involved, even though the mediation would be non-binding. It does at least get both sides to the table -- a feat that at times has been tough -- and gives the fighting couple professional assistance. News such as this is also worth nothing when Twitter users turn some of that government involvement and glimmer of hope into a comedic gag before the day is through.

Tags: ass mode, guy serota, Islanders, jason clark, lockout, morning skate, nassau county, News, Editorial Aside
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With Calvin de Haan now out for the season, that frees up a spot on what was originally a very crowded blueline in Bridgeport. There are still 7 defenders on the roster -- de Haan was the eighth -- so there's no immediate worry or need defensively. But of course if there's an injury in the short term or an end to the lockout that sends Travis Hamonic (and another, possibly) to Long Island later on, the Sound Tigers are going to have to fill the void.

The short list of candidates to step in is, well, short. The Sound Tigers were great last year at pulling strings and finding ECHL players to step in and fill spots as many of their players were called up to the NHL. If the team wanted instead to look to its own farm system, there are a few candidates. Excluding the seven defenders drafted in 2012 (we'll leave them out for brevity and the obvious assumption that they need more time), the Islanders top defensive prospects not already in Bridgeport are Robbie Russo, Andrey Pedan, Scott Mayfield, and Brenden Kitchon. All four were draft picks in 2011.

Tags: brenden kitchon, Islanders, michael grabner, morning skate, News, Editorial Aside, Rick DiPietro
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Negotiations between the League and the Players took two steps forward and three steps back on Thursday afternoon. The owners offered their own proposal on Tuesday with the famed '50/50 split' of revenues, which the Union responded to yesterday. The Union offered up three different proposals of their own and showed a willingness to go for the 50/50 split but only if all of the current contracts were honored (coming to top of mind are Ryan Suter and Zach Parise's mega-deals from earlier this year). And that's where we hit another snag.

The day ended with quotes such as "today is not a good day," from Union leader Don Fehr and "I don't know what the next step is," from commissioner Gary Bettman. And we're back to the drawing board.

After this, many players sounded off on Twitter, including the Islanders own Kyle Okposo:

Tags: Islanders, kyle okposo, lockout, morning skate, News, Podcast, podcast, Sound Tigers, sound tigers
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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-KjvfT9jFI&feature=youtu.be]

Zach Parise talks after the morning skate today. The Devils are taking on rival New York Rangers tonight. Give it a look.

Tags: Morning Skate, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, NHL, SNY, Watch, Zach Parise
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