Kyle Palmieri grew up in Montvale, New Jersey and lived on a farm that belonged to his grandparents. He was five or six years old when he was first introduced to hockey on a backyard rink at the home of his sister’s gymnastics teammate who had a brother that played hockey. His father Bruce was never really into hockey but Kyle and his dad learned how to skate together and when he was seven or eight years old, his dad built a rink in one of the fields on the farm.
Palmieri may have grown up in New Jersey and learned how to play hockey in the Garden State, but if you look at the back of his hockey card, it shows that he was born in Smithtown, New York.
On Wednesday night, the Long Island-born forward became a New York Islander when Palmieri was acquired by General Manager Lou Lamoriello from the Devils, along with forward Travis Zajac, in exchange for forwards A.J. Greer, Mason Jobst, the Islanders’ first round pick in 2021 and a conditional four round selection in 2022. As part of the deal, the Devils also agreed to retain 50% of both Palmieri and Zajac’s salaries.
Palmieri was very young when his family moved from Long Island to New Jersey, but he still has a strong connection Islanders Country.
“I’m incredibly excited,” said Palmieri, a first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2009. “I have a house out on the North Fork of Long Island that I spend my summers at. I have a bunch of family out in the Hauppauge Commack area so I’m pretty familiar. My dad was a big surfer growing up so we always went out to the Long Island beaches and things like that so I’m really familiar with the area. I’m really looking forward to joining this team and being a part of it.”
Palmieri and Zajac depart a Devils team that is in 7th place in the East Division and they join an Islanders team that is tied with the Capitals for first place. They will try to help fill the void left by the season ending injury to Islanders Captain Anders Lee and they were acquired by the same man who brought them to New Jersey. Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello drafted Zajac in the first round of the 2004 NHL Draft and he acquired Palmieri from Anaheim in 2015.
“I’m excited to have them as part of our organization right now,” said Lamoriello. “I know what they bring on the ice. I also know who they are as people and how well they’ll fit in in the locker room here. Chemistry is extremely important to me but their experience, their talents, their competitiveness…especially in this division knowing what they have to go through to me is an excitement from our end.”
Palmieri’s days in New Jersey were numbered once he was held out of Sunday’s game against the Capitals for “precautionary reasons”. His agent took to Twitter to say that it was “in anticipation of a trade in the coming days or week(s).
Palmieri heard the rumors that the Islanders were interested, and with the NHL trading deadline coming up on Monday, it only took three days for the 2019 NHL All-Star to find out he was going to be crossing the Hudson River to New York and then heading out east to join the Islanders.
“When I kind of heard that the Islanders could be an option, I couldn’t have been more excited,” said Palmieri. “It was really difficult to contain the excitement to join this team and this organization. The opportunity to go and be a part of a team that has a chance to do something special is something every player wants and that’s all you can ask for and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”
Palmieri and Zajac are expected to be on the ice Thursday morning for the team’s morning skate at the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow and then it will be up to Head Coach Barry Trotz to figure out how they will fit into the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Coliseum.
I know what happens when you assume (you can look up the joke), but let’s assume that they are both going to play. I also know that, as of now, New York State is only allowing 10 percent of capacity so there will only be approximately 1,400 fans at the game on Thursday night. I have to believe that Kyle Palmieri’s Long Island-based family and friends will do their best to try to find their way into “The Barn” to see the Long Island-born Palmieri wearing an Islanders jersey for the first time.
From there, he’ll try to help the Islanders bring the Stanley Cup back to where he was born…Islanders Country…Long Island.