The Blockbuster Islanders-Devils Deal -- What it means?

How will the Isles lines shape up?; Campbell wins again for the Leafs; Lundqvist opens up.

Ever since Islanders captain Anders Lee went down with a season-ending injury a dozen games ago, Mr. and Mrs. Hockey Fan began wondering what The Boss in Nassau would do.

Lou Lamoriello has answered that question with a blockbuster deal that nobody could have forecast. He obtained two redoubtable Devils forwards, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. 

New Jersey's g.m. Tom Fitzgerald got a beauty of a bundle in return, starting with the Isles' first-rounder this year along with a conditional pick, and promising forward, A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst. 

"I know what Travis and Kyle bring," Says Lou Lamoriello who neatly sums up his acquisitions. 

They prove that the Islanders high command believe that the future is now. 

"The Islanders now are in a position to win The Stanley Cup," opines my most dependable NHL scout, Gus Vic. "They may be stronger now than before Anders Lee got hurt." 

Significantly, although many seers believed that Lee's absence would seriously wound the Islanders playoff chances, the club has managed to win eight of its last twelve games and is tied for first in the East. 

Zajac is almost an exact replica of Lee in style, substance and savvy. Palmieri reminds of the Isles' leading goal-scorer Brock Nelson. The new arrivals now what they want; same as Lou.

"Now," says Zajac, "I'm in a position to try for the ultimate goal." 

Palmieri, a Long Island native, seconds the motion.

"This is a chance to do something special," Kyle asserts, "to do what every player wants to do."

He didn't have to finish; the Islanders have a better shot at Lord Stanley's mug than before the deal was made.

But both are realists. The East race is the dog fight of all dog fights. 

Now that the surging Rangers are in the mix, it's a true toss-up as to where the Flyers, Bruins, Capitals and Penguins -- with Ev Malkin due back -- will finish. No crystal ball nor Ouija Board can supply an answer.

As my man Gus Vic points out, "Given the number of UFA's in New Jersey, the 'For Rent' sign should begin to attract more suitors."

Vic believes that the Bruins are serious contenders for Taylor Hall and the five games the Rangers have with the Islanders could "prove a template for the Blueshirts looking ahead." 

Lou is looking ahead, too, and you know what he means when he concludes, "I know what Zajac and Palmieri bring!"

What he hopes they bring has my name on the first half!



THE JIVE; What I've been telling you all along is that Toronto does not have to deal for a goalie; despite plaints from the bloc of Leaf-worriers in the Hogtown media. The Pride of Port Huron, Michigan is THE man and his record-breaking tenth straight win (10-0) with a 3-2 decision over Montreal merely underlines the point. And, yes, another controversial point; I'd take Auston Matthews' 26 goals as my case for a Hart Trophy vote over the very apt Connor McDavid for MVP. Matter of fact, I still pick Chicago's Patrick Kane over the Emperor of Edmonton. (OK, OK, granted it's close.)


THE JIVE: Once Hank started practicing between the nets a while back, I clearly stated in this space, "Watch for his return with the Caps this season.” Naturally, the word was out that such a comeback would never happen. But in his excellent interview with my old pal Kevin Weekes, King Henrik says, yes, it's now possible. He's awaiting further medical tests and, of course, the green light from the doctors. (Between you and me and Caps g.m. Brian MacLellan, Washington could use a fresh, rested and still competent Lundqvist. (P.S. Nobody -- but nobody -- is more motivated than Hammerin' Hank!)


THE JIVE: Review a couple of last night's results and you'll understand why they're eye-openers. Start with the Blues needing a game-stealing goalie to end their skid. Jordan Binnington did just that with a 50 -save performance to lift St. Lou to a 3-1 win over Vegas. And how about Billy Guerin's Wild bouldering Colorado, 8-3. That tells me that Joltin' Joe Sakic better make that threatened -- by the media -- deal if he still thinks he has a Cup-winner with Philipp Grubauer between the pipes. (I say nay!)


THE JIVE: Don't ask me how Barry Trotz plans to arrange his lines with new adds Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri now on his roster. That's going to be a good question tonight with the Flyers visiting Uniondale. My guess is that Zajac most resembles the absent Anders Lee which would mean that Travis will be on the first line with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle. Just a guess. As for Palmieri; don't ask me, just wait and see. (Reminds me of my once favorite radio show, "I Love A Mystery."


THE JIVE: Mike Cosby, who has been around hockey longer than most viewers, and studies The Game from Sheffield, Massachusetts, agrees with me. He supports the suggestion that a line painted around the rink ten feet from the boards would curb nasty injuries that have bedevilled players for years and is very critical of the recent letter denouncing the idea. Any player crossing that line to deliver a check would be subject to a penalty. This would return the true art of the open-ice hip checks that once were a key part of the game but has all but disappeared. Thank you, Mike!

Meanwhile reader Todd Siben reminds me that when talking about hockey players who also starred at lacrosse, Rick Dudley is yet another who was an ace on ice and the lacrosse turf.


For many years the NHL permitted the home team to designate the linesmen. When were neutral linesmen introduced?

(Answer below.)

CLEVER LINES FROM YESTERYEAR: "I want to thank my friends, the goalposts, for getting me here tonight!"

-Glenn (Chico) Resch, after nine shots hit the Islanders goal posts during a playoff series with Pittsburgh in 1975.


Neutral linesmen made their debut with the 1946-47 season.