Friday, 17 June 2011 00:00
Howie Rose, the distinctive voice of New York Islanders and New York Mets broadcasts, asked aloud during a low point of the Islanders’ 2010-2011 campaign ‘is it spring training yet’ for the Mets. The rhetorical question was inadvertently captured on an open microphone and became a story in the sports media because accidental candor always makes for good copy.
Given the Islanders’ strong finish in 2010-2011, which occurred months after Rose made his accurate observation about the squad’s fortunes at the time, the team’s supporters have reason to look ahead to October 2011, when the National Hockey League (NHL) resumes play.
The Islanders scouts have an eye for talent so the organization’s Friday, June 24 Draft Party at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is a date fans should mark in their Day Book. Free tickets are available to the general public by logging onto www.newyorkislanders.com. Individuals can reserve no more than eight passes. They are also available at the Islanders Team Store, Westfield Sunrise Mall, Massapequa and the Islanders Pro Shop at Iceworks, Syosset.
Thousands usually attend the annual family-friendly gathering. The Coliseum’s doors open on Friday, June 24 at 5 p.m. but the NHL Entry Draft itself starts at 7 p.m. The Islanders, in line to be the fifth team making a selection, are streaming live pictures of the Draft onto the Coliseum’s scoreboard. The NHL draft is being conducted this year in St. Paul, Minnesota. Those pictures will be supplemented by content from Islanders TV, featuring exclusive interviews with the team’s hockey operations staff as well as behind the scenes footage.
Finding out the Islanders’ top draft choice is only one part of the event’s appeal. Children and their parents will be able to meet some of their favorite Islanders players, such as the team’s top overall offensive performer, John Tavares, as well as Calder Memorial Trophy finalist Michael Grabner. Grabner is vying against two other NHL players for the honor given each year to the league’s top rookie. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 22, in Las Vegas, at the NHL’s 2011 Awards ceremony. Islander standouts Matt Moulson, Trevor Gillies, Travis Hamonic, Micheal Haley, Matt Martin and Kevin Poulin are going to be at the Draft Party, too.
In addition, the Islanders will offer throughout the evening locker room tours, access to interactive video games and a street hockey booth, and an extensive array of discounted souvenirs. Game-worn jerseys, autographed memorabilia, and limited edition collectibles are just some of the items that will be available for prices up to 50 percent off.
The Islanders are also teaming up with the American Red Cross for a Blood Drive on the day of the 2011 Draft Party. Long Islanders are invited to donate blood in the Coliseum’s exhibition hall between noon and 8 p.m.
And if all this makes you want to purchase 2011-2012 Islanders season tickets on Friday, June 24, the team is ready to facilitate that transaction. Fans can view open seating options that night with an Islanders sales representative along with one of the players in attendance.
Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net