If all goes according to plan, Casey Cizikas will play his entire NHL career with the Islanders. What was up in the air following last season moved a little bit closer to reality on Wednesday as near the end of his Zoom conference with reporters, Cizikas made it clear where his heart has always been.
“I’m going to die an Islander,” said Cizikas. “That’s the way to put it.”
If you didn’t know it before, you know now that Cizikas bleeds blue and orange as he has agreed to a new six-year extension with the Islanders. Heading into his tenth season with the Islanders, Cizikas is now locked up long-term. He was an unrestricted free agent following last season, but he knew he wasn’t going anywhere. Cizikas, who has helped the Islanders get to the NHL’s final four the last two seasons, wanted to stay with the only team he has ever known.
After all, this is home sweet home for him.
“There was no doubt,” said Cizikas who will continue to play on the Islanders’ “Identity Line” (or fourth line…however you want to phrase it) with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck.
“Long Island is my home and it will always be my home. There was nowhere else I wanted to be. I want to retire as an Islander. That’s my goal and that’s something that I’m going to be really proud of when that day comes.”
For now, Cizikas isn’t close to thinking about retiring because he wants to help the Islanders take care of some unfinished business and that is winning the 5th Stanley Cup in team history, a goal that the Isles have fallen a bit short of the last two seasons. The Islanders lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games two seasons ago in the Eastern Conference Final and then fell to the Lightning again in seven games in this past season’s Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Sometimes a team has to suffer some heartbreaking setbacks before they finish the climb to the top of the mountain. For Cizikas and the Islanders, the last two seasons have certainly made them even hungrier to get back to work.
“That just builds fire,” said Cizikas on a day when the Islanders also announce multi-year deals for Anthony Beauvillier, Ilya Sorokin and Kyle Palmieri.
“That just makes you want to get faster get stronger. It just gives you that little bit of oomph in the summer. We’re close. You just want to keep pushing and pushing until you eventually hoist the Stanley Cup. This is the group that we want to win with. We believe in each other that we can do that.”
Last season, Cizikas had seven goals and seven assists for 14 points playing in all 56 regular season games for the Islanders. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Cizikas added two goals and three assists including an overtime game winning goal in game two of the second round series against the Bruins.
Drafted by the Islanders in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Cizikas has 81 goals and 104 assists in 590 career regular season games. In the playoffs, Cizikas has five goals and ten assists in 69 career post-season contests.
There were other teams that were interested in trying to pry Cizikas away from the Islanders, but he had no interest in moving on.
“I didn’t want to play with anybody but these guys,” said Cizikas. “These guys are my family. I’ve created a lot of friendships, friendships that will last a lifetime. I was determined to stay. I wanted to be an Islander and we made that happen. I don’t want to be anywhere but the Island. This is going to be my home for the rest of my life.”
And now after back-to-back bitter playoff defeats, Cizikas and the Islanders are set to begin training camp later with a mission statement to finish the quest for a Stanley Cup as they get ready to begin a new era in their new home UBS Arena at Belmont Park.
“I’m an Islander through the all the good times and all the bad times,” said Cizikas. “It’s exciting what we’re doing right now. Going forward we have one hell of a team and we’re gearing up for another big year.”
A year that Casey Cizikas and company ends with finally bringing Lord Stanley back home to Long Island.