Isles Still Amazed At New Additions|
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Monday, March 5, 2007
Islander fans are calling it destiny.
Most hockey fans around the world however, still can’t believe what the Isles managed to accomplish at the trading deadline, nabbing proven offensive threats in Ryan Smyth, Richard Zednik and a dependable power play quarterback in Marc-Andre Bergeron, giving the team instant offensive credibility in order to compete in a conference that Sidney Crosby, Danny Heatley and Martin St. Louis all call home.
Even Islanders head coach Ted Nolan is having a hard time taking in the cosmetic makeover his team has undergone the past week.
“When Garth called and told me we got Ryan, I thought he was pulling my leg. We couldn't have hand-picked him any better. This guy is everything you'd want in a player,” said Nolan on the team’s official website. “We're really happy to have him on our team. We were so excited to get the trade deadline over and have our core guys still here. We added three guys in the last week – Marc-Andre, Zednik and now Ryan Smyth. It was an exciting and emotional day.”
While acquiring players the caliber of Bergeron, Zednik and Smyth has provided the team with a lift emotionally, all three have already shown signs of promise in the orange and blue.
Bergeron has four points in his first five games with the team and is a plus 4. He has also started to silence the critics who believe he’s a defensive liability and is essentially a fourth forward on the ice as well, making numerous plays on defense that have kept the Isles in the win column since he’s arrived.
Despite not scoring a point through his first two games with the team, the Islanders believe it’s only a matter of time until Richard Zednik begins to revert back to the hard-working forward that played so well against them for so many years. With seven shots on goal in his first two games on the Island, Zednik gives the second line instant credibility and will force defensive team like the Devils to ponder who they should defend more against.
"Richard is a proven offensive talent," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told the Associated Press. "When you can add a player with his skill and competitiveness for a playoff push at a fair cost, you do it. We believe Richard will fit in well with our team."
However, in the case of Ryan Smyth, who had an assist and was on the ice for both Islander goals in his debut on March 1 at the Nassau Coliseum, things are a little different. Not only does Smyth give the Islanders someone that can bolster their powerplay [In only 53 games, Smyth had 14 goals on the powerplay with Edmonton.], he provides the team with another knowledgeable and experienced veteran, complementing the already solid locker room presence the Islanders have with players like Mike Sillinger, Sean Hill and Brendan Witt. Considering the fact that the team was already winning before Smyth arrived, his leadership and attitude may in fact be what this year’s Islanders need in order to keep it that way and make the playoffs.
“I was nervous and excited before the game started. I just wanted to get out there on the ice. I feel freer when I'm on the ice and can take my mind off everything else. The guys really supported me on the bench,” said Smyth on the Islanders official website, recollecting his first game in the orange and blue. “The fans also really welcomed me when the game started. It's flattering that everyone has opened their arms. On those first few shifts I was running on adrenaline. As the game went on I felt more involved. The first game I was just trying to fit in.”
If the dozens of #94 jerseys that have started popping up all over the Long Island area over the past two days are any indication, Smyth is fitting in just fine.