Your centers are Weight, Thompson, Bailey, and Sillinger...the Isles are up by a goal with less than a minute remaining in the third period with a face-off in their zone. Who do you put out there?
Mike Sillinger. His value on face-offs while with the Islanders has been paramount over the past two seasons and has been greatly missed in his absence. Weight and Nielsen have been doing a pretty good job for the mean time, but his decisive victories on draws are what will be key for scenarios such as the one stated above.
His scoring touch has been missed as well. Last season was riddled with injuries, and he was only capable of mustering 26 points in 52 games. His debut season with the Isles was his best of the two, notching 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points, establishing himself as one of, if not our best two-way center.
Although many fans are glad to have the reliable veteran back on the ice, it is important to keep in mind that he is returning from hip surgery for an injury that dates back to last season.
Yeah, he's been out a long time.
Therefore, I'm expecting gradual results on the ice, and that's only fair to Silly. Like he said in Greg Logan's article in Newsday, "I'm not a miracle worker," and he won't be the huge difference maker on a nightly basis. What we can expect him to be is a contributor and leader for the younger players. Players like Bergenheim, Bailey, and Nielsen, who probably will be very relied on for their two-way play as their careers continue, can take in a lot from what Mike Sillinger has to offer.
He's been around; the Isles are the twelfth team he's played for in the NHL. He should have plenty to say for the kids to learn from. So far guys like Doug Weight and Bill Guerin have been very beneficial; Sillinger is just another wealthy addition.
The only thing that will be on the minds of many is if Sillinger will be able to handle Scott Gordon's overspeed system. At his age, and after sitting for such a long period of time, it has to be a major concern not only for fans, but for himself as well.
Hopefully he still has enough gas left in the tank to finish off the year with a bang.
In other news:
Peter Laviolette has been fired by the Carolina Hurricanes and replaced with...well...the old in Paul Maurice. I can understand why they fired Laviolette, but bringing back Maurice? I just don't understand it. His resume' has only worsened in his time spent from the Canes organization while coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs. Seems like a bit of a down-grade to me. I'm sure Peter will land back on his feet in no time.
...But I have to ask, how would Isles fans have felt if Laviolette was fired over the summer and the Isles brought him back instead of hiring first-year coach, Scott Gordon?
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