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Three takeaways from Isles’ Exit Meetings

The New York Islanders cleaned out their lockers on Monday afternoon and spoke to the media regarding the season, the future and everything in between.  There were a lot of takeaways from the exit meetings even though Lou Lamoriello always likes to run a tight ship and not much substance usually comes out of these kinds of meetings.

 

Accountability starts at the top

There’s a reason why this Islander season felt a lot different than many others;  There was no finger pointing.  Lou Lamoriello stood there in front of all of the media and took responsibility for not being able to get deals done to improve the team.

Obviously Lamoriello has a plan (he usually plans multiple years in advance) but just seeing him take responsibility, when the buck was usually passed many times over in the past, is a welcome sight.  Since Lou runs such a tight ship and his values always encompass team attitude and accountability, it’s clear that he practices what he preaches.

Even if Lamoriello isn’t successful in winning a Stanley Cup during his tenure as President and General Manager of the Islanders, he’s brought a professionalism that the Islanders haven’t had since Bill Torrey was GM.  The tandem of Lamoriello and Barry Trotz bring an accountability that hasn’t been seen by many young Islander fans.  They know how to win and they know how to get the most out of their players.  This team was successful because they were a team and once again it all starts at the top.

Anders Lee will be back next season

If there’s one thing that’s almost certain, it will be that Captain Anders Lee will be back in the blue and orange next season.  While there’s uncertainty surrounding Brock Nelson (who did not attend due to the birth of his second child), Jordan Eberle and Robin Lehner, Lee almost exclusively hinted that he and his agent were working on a new deal.

He’ll never flat out say it because that’s not how Lou Lamoriello runs this organization, but both Lamoriello and Lee agreed that they enjoyed Lee’s first year as Captain and that he clearly wants to be back with the organization.  Islander fans are probably shuddering right now thinking about how John Tavares said the same thing last season, but Lee speaks much more confidently about being back than Tavares ever did.

Lee is the heart and soul of this team and a fantastic leader.  Tavares was as well but Lee seems more personable and a more vocal leader than Tavares was.  It’s no surprise that when Barry Trotz named him captain at the beginning of the season, it was because he exemplified all the qualities you need to be a leader.

The injuries were a lot more serious than we thought

Obviously every NHL team has a laundry list of injuries they don’t disclose during the season, especially in the playoffs.  The Islanders were no different, as two of their key players were missing due to injuries more severe than people realized.

The first was Johnny Boychuk, who disclosed he had a broken foot after taking a shot off the foot in Round One against Pittsburgh.  He was set to play in Game 6 if the series got that far.  The other was Cal Clutterbuck, who played the first three games of Round Two but was unable to suit up for Game 4 because he had a few slipped disks.  Apparently he had those slipped disks for a few weeks and was playing through the pain.

The NHL season is a grind and once the playoffs starts any and all injuries need to be serious in order to keep a player out of the game.  People forget how much sacrifice these guys make to win the Stanley Cup and it’s not just a game, it’s a lifestyle.

 

Exit interviews are always a melancholy time, especially when your team doesn’t reach the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.  However from what the Islanders’ players and personnel said, there is a bright future ahead for this team.  They are ready to win and although they’re proud of their accomplishments, they aren’t satisfied.  Their ultimate goal wasn’t met but they’re ready to work on it immediately.

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