Isles Break The Streak, Beat Sens
Islanders 6, Ottawa 3
By Kerry Gwydir
(Nov. 3) Not since a 5-4 decision on Jan. 6, 1996 had the Ottawa
Senators lost on Nassau Coliseum ice. Well, the Islanders broke the
funk with a 6-3 win on Monday. Mariusz Czerkawski, Oleg Kvasha and
Shawn Bates each had a goal and an assist while Adrian Aucoin posted
two important helpers. The Islanders penalty-killing unit, the top in
the NHL, killed six powerplays against the league's second-best
powerplay. Rick DiPietro made 29 stops in goal for the victory.
Both teams started this game paying attention to detail in their own
zone and rarely let up an odd-man rush. The biggest cheers from the
Coliseum crowd early on occurred on the same shift when Eric Godard
thumped Zdeno Chara in the Ottawa end. That was followed up with a
Sean Bergenheim flooring of Senator forward Antoine Vermette into the
The Senators drew first blood at the 8:50 mark of the opener when
Brian Pothier's wrister from the right point was deflected by Peter
Schaefer in front and behind Rick DiPietro. Brian Smolinski won an
offensive end faceoff to Martin Havlat, who freelanced in the high
slot to dish the puck to Pothier.
The league's top PK went up against the NHL's second-most potent
powerplay when Aucoin was shipped to the box with eight minutes to
go. The Isles allowed just one shot and extinguished that
opportunity. During that man-up situation, Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson
put his hip into Jason Blake's knee. The Islander went down hard and
was attended to by head trainer Rich Campbell. He left the game with
a mild knee sprain and did not return. He'll be re-evaluated on
The Islanders' first quality offensive chance came late in the period
with five minutes to go. A blast by Alexei Yashin was blocked by
Patrick Lalime's right pad. Kvasha followed that up and attempted a
backhander on the rebound that the Ottawa netminder rejected.
Ottawa antagonist Chris Neil shied away from a bout with Eric Cairns
late in the period when the Senator caught Jason Wiemer with a late
hit. Neil refused to drop the gloves with either Islander.
On the next shift, Yashin fanned on a superb scoring opportunity as
he was set up alone on the doorstep. A pass by Czerkawski from the
left corner made it through two Ottawa players, but Yashin could not
pull the trigger and the puck skipped wide.
With 1:02, Trent Hunter tied the game with a wicked slapshot from the
top of the right faceoff dot. The unscreened chance started with a
drop pass from Shawn Bates. Hunter's blast beat Lalime inside the far
post over his trapper.
Czerkawski continued his torrid scoring pace 55 seconds into the
second period with his 9th of the season. A beautiful rush by Kvasha
that began in his own end of the ice saw the Islander dance through
three Senators before finding the right wing trailing for a one-timer
over Lalime's glove.
Hunter nearly had his second of the night five minutes in as Justin
Papineau's hustle negated an icing. That allowed Bates to corral a
loose puck and find Hunter cruising through the slot with plenty of
the net open. Lalime dove across the crease and robbed the Islander
right wing with a chest stop.
The Islanders received a gift at the 7:05 mark of the second on a
Wiemer goal, his first of the year, that beat Lalime from center ice.
Mark Parrish intercepted Marian Hossa at the Islander blueline and
pushed the puck up to the breaking Wiemer. The left wing put the puck
on net and, somehow, the disc squirted through the Ottawa goaltender
and over the goal line.
Yet, a giveaway by Wiemer cost the Islanders two minutes later when
Chara ripped a slapper from the right faceoff dot over DiPietro's
blocker. Wiemer attempted to clear the puck up the left-wing boards.
Chara was right there to block it off and then pump a howitzer, that
appeared to be deflected in front, behind DiPietro.
Less than a minute later, an Ottawa giveaway led to Kvasha's fourth
of the season. The left wing stole a pass from Curtis Leschyshyn
behind the net that was intended for Pothier. Kvasha quickly took
advantage of the sloppy Ottawa play and backhanded a shot from a
tight angle through Lalime.
The Islanders offense was clearly taking over in this game as they
continued to force turnovers that initiated quality scoring chances.
A steal by Yashin from Alfredsson in the left faceoff dot nearly made
it a 5-2 game. The center pumped a shot on net that Lalime stopped,
yet the rebound went out front right to Czerkawski. The right wing
immediately snapped the puck on net where Lalime made a stellar
A penalty to Michael Peca in the final four minutes forced DiPietro
to make three superb stops on his doorstep. The Islander goaltender
flashed out his right pad to deny Chara of a doorstep one-timer to
begin the sequence. Then, with the Isles' coverage scrambling around,
Hossa had a pair of whacks on top of the crease that DiPietro stopped
while on his back. Yet, the momentum was in the Senators' favor and
they scored as the penalty ended.
Alfredsson got the goal with less than two minutes left in the second
as he wristed a shot from the high slot that beat DiPietro over the
glove. The play was made in front where the Islander goaltender had
two bodies in front of him obscuring his view.
With Havlat in the box for taking a retaliatory slash on Aucoin
during an Ottawa powerplay, the Ottawa netminder came up big once
again with his catch glove. A dump-in by Peca took an odd bounce off
the glass and pinged out front to Parrish, who was unchecked. The
right wing attempted to go over the left shoulder of Lalime, but was
Another Ottawa retaliation penalty put the nail in the coffin in this
one after Hossa hacked-down Peca with a slash in front of DiPietro.
It led to a Yashin goal with 4:02 left in the game, his first
powerplay goal of the season. The key momentum on this goal sequence
was a jumping play at the Ottawa blueline by Aucoin to save a
clearing attempt by Chara. The Islander defender found Czerkawski at
the right faceoff circle, who immediately fed Yashin for a blast from
the left dot that beat Lalime over the left shoulder.
A penalty on Kvasha in the final two minutes gave the Senators one
last gasp. They also pulled Lalime to make it a two-man advantage.
But the league's top PK unit did the trick as Parrish nearly had an
empty-netter, but hit the pipe.
Then it was DiPietro punctuating the effort with a superb glove save
off Alfredsson with a baseball-like swing off a loose puck in front
in the final 30 seconds.
Bates scored at the buzzer into the empty net to finally put the
icing on a sweet victory over their Ottawa nemesis. Peca garnered the
lone helper on the goal.
The Islanders' next game is at home on Thursday at 7pm vs. the Dallas
Finally, It's Over: Isles end home winless streak vs. Sens
By Alan Hahn
November 4, 2003
The Islanders didn't want to talk about the streak. They never really
wanted to. But last night's 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators at
Nassau Coliseum put an end to a 17-game home winless streak (0-13-4)
against the Senators that ended three-months shy of eight years in
"It was just one of those fluky streaks," said Kenny Jonsson, who is
the longest tenured Islander but wasn't on the team the last time it
beat the Sens, a 5-4 decision on Jan. 6, 1996. "I didn't pay
attention to it. It's more the media having fun with it."
"Streak or no streak," defenseman Adrian Aucoin said, "they're one of
the teams we're gunning for."
Only 10,957 fans were counted last night, but the energy was provided
by the Islanders, who are 5-1 at the Coliseum this season. The high
score and end-to-end skating was a surprise because these teams play
the neutral zone trap.
A late goal in the first period by Trent Hunter sparked the
Islanders, who took their first lead on Mariusz Czerkawski's goal 55
seconds into the second off a terrific rush by his dynamic line. Oleg
Kvasha and Alexei Yashin started a two-on-one break, but Kvasha let
Yashin cruise up the middle before he slipped the puck back to
Czerkawski racing in as the trailer ahead of Sens defenseman Karel
Rachunek. Czerkawski buried the pass behind Patrick Lalime for his
ninth of the season.
"Perfect pass," Czerkawski said. "I just tried to get rid of it as
fast as I could."
Jason Wiemer made it 3-1 at 7:05 when he beat Lalime with a shot from
the Peconic Bay on the Islanders logo one stride across center ice.
After Zdeno Chara beat goalie Rick DiPietro off a turnover at 9:16 to
make it 3-2, the Islanders got another gift goal at 10:34 when Kvasha
took the puck away from Rachunek behind the Ottawa net and stuffed it
around Lalime to make it 4-2.
Kvasha, who earlier this week swore off post-goal celebrations,
pumped his fist after this one.
Ottawa coach Jacques Martin might have wanted to shake his fist at
his uncharacteristically sloppy team, which is winless in three (0-2-
1). "They're a good hockey club," Martin said of the Islanders. "You
can't give them freebies."
The Islanders almost got another freebie when Czerkawski pounced on a
big rebound in front, but Lalime gloved it out of the air to keep the
score at 4-2. Then Daniel Alfredsson stepped around Janne Niinimaa
and beat DiPietro through a screen at 18:11 to make it 4-3. A Michael
Peca penalty in the final second of the period set up the Senators
power play, second-best in the NHL coming into the game.
But the Islanders' penalty kill, the NHL's best, shut it down and
even after Eric Cairns took a penalty five minutes into the period,
the Sens couldn't capitalize. Martin Havlat was whistled for the
first Senators penalty to negate the advantage. In all, the Islanders
killed all six Ottawa power plays.
Meanwhile, Yashin put it away on the Islanders' second power play. He
one-timed a shot off the far post at 15:58 to make it 5-3. Shawn
Bates added an empty-netter. The Senators had 10 shots on goal in the
period, but very few quality scoring chances against DiPietro, who
finished with 29 saves.
"That's as good a third period as we've had," coach Steve Stirling
The Islanders stuck together, kept it simple and put impressive
finishing touches on an impressive win.
"We finished the game strong, which is what good teams do," Yashin
said. "We have to build this mentality."
Notes & Quotes: Islanders forward Jason Blake suffered a knee sprain
as a result of a first-period hit from Daniel Alfredsson. Blake will
be re-evaluated today . . . Arron Asham sat with a neck strain. He is
day-to-day . . . Adrian Aucoin played 30:20 and was a plus-4.
INSIDE GAME 11
RECORD: 6-3-2-0 LAST YEAR: 3-7-1-0
PLUS: Oleg Kvasha played 23:40, the most of any Islanders forward,
including 4:28 on the penalty kill. He had a goal, an assist and was
a plus-3 with several critical defensive plays.
MINUS: Roman Hamrlik ran over puck-handling goalie Rick DiPietro
behind the net during a confused exchange. DiPietro was shaken up in
the collision but continued to play.
Radio: ESPN (1050)
Hall of Fame induction for LaFontaine puts . . . Icing on His Career
By Mark Herrmann
November 4, 2003
Toronto - From his vantage point, behind a lectern and on top of his
sport, Pat LaFontaine saw one last time that his career didn't come
up short after all. Not even close, by his measure. He took the time
to recall what hockey had given him, not what it had held back.
So there was no regret that he had joined the Islanders dynasty in
1984, just in time to see it head toward collapse.
There were no recriminations over having been part of the generation
inspired by the 1980 Miracle of Lake Placid, then playing on two U.S.
Olympic teams (1984 and 1998) that flopped.
He definitely expressed no remorse over the repeated concussions that
cut down his career in its prime, made him retire at 33, and
prevented him from achieving gaudy milestones such as 500 goals.
No, there were no misgivings from him. Not from the 38-year-old
husband and father of three who has a good, healthy, charitable life
on Long Island and who last night was inducted into the Hockey Hall
of Fame. "It is an amazing honor," he said, his voice shaking with
emotion. "It's something my family and I will cherish forever."
LaFontaine always has been the type to see the glass as half-full
rather than half-empty, but last night it was overflowing. It was a
night to celebrate his 468 goals and 1,013 points in 15 years with
the Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and Rangers. It was a time to note that
the Hall considered him one of the top American-born players in
"I owe so much to this game of hockey," he said, at the end of a
speech in which he thanked everyone from coaches and teammates to his
family, agent and arena crews. "I leave it with no regrets, I leave
it with my health and with a beautiful family. This great game has
allowed me to have so much in my life."
His life seemed fuller last night, as he spoke more of his
relationships than his achievements. "I learned from a young age how
fortunate I was just to be playing this game. And throughout my
career, I've met people whose situations weren't as fortunate. I
think the thing I'm probably most proud of is that I was in a
position to help people," he said in an interview earlier.
"When you talk to guys who have gone through post-concussion
syndrome, you learn it changes your perspective on life. You see you
don't have as much control as you think you do. And when you let go,
you have a chance to reflect and really appreciate the little things.
Having gone through some of those injuries, having looked at my life
not as 'What could have been,' but 'What was,' I realized you can
truly embrace what you do have."
He made it as far as a hockey player can go, and he laughed at the
thought he might have regrets. "I reflect back on when I was a kid,"
he said. "I started on double runners and the first time I tried
skating, I cried because it was so hard, and the other kids made it
look so easy."
For LaFontaine, there was no ambivalence in entering the Hall with
goaltender Grant Fuhr, who denied him his only real shot at the Cup.
Fuhr, who last night became the first black member of the Hall, won
the first of his five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers in the
1984 Finals against the Islanders. "He's the greatest goalie I ever
faced," LaFontaine said. What's more, the two men became close
friends when they were Sabres teammates in the 1990s.
"To go in with him makes it even more special," Fuhr said.
The two honorees in the builders category also had LaFontaine ties.
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch was a patron of Detroit youth hockey when
the center was a teenager. ("I think he made us realize that maybe
some of these kids can grow up and make the NHL because he showed
such outstanding skill," Ilitch said.) Ottawa junior coaching legend
Brian Kilrea spent two years as an Islanders assistant coach, and
LaFontaine found him especially encouraging at a time when he needed
Their presence yesterday helped LaFontaine celebrate what he
called "the chapters of my life." He reverently spoke of his now-
fellow Hall of Fame Islanders, and how much they taught him on and
off the ice. He mentioned that he met his wife on Long Island. He
also fondly recalled "coming into my own" with the Sabres, for whom
he had 148 points in 1992-93. He lavishly praised the Rangers
organization and fans for treating him well in one last season that
gave him closure.
Even the injuries got their due from LaFontaine. In the many times he
was forced to stay away from the rink, he visited children's
hospitals and realized his own problems were small in comparison. He
spoke of the late Robert Schwegler, a hospital-bound child whose only
smiles in his last months occurred when LaFontaine played video games
It's the sort of thing that led him to form the Companions in Courage
Foundation. His new goal is establishing high-tech interactive
playrooms in hospitals so children can watch plasma screen TVs,
listen to music or hold teleconferences with their
grandparents. "It's an oasis, where they can get some of their life
back," said a man whose life was full and on display last night.
"To be considered a Hall of Famer, to be selected in this exclusive
club," he said, "it's something that normally doesn't happen to a boy
from St. Louis who started on double runners."
Pat LaFontaine By the Numbers
3: His draft position in the first round by the Islanders in 1983.
3: Goals in his first game for the Islanders, in Toronto, in 1984.
3: NHL teams for which he played, all in New York State - the
Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and Rangers.
80: Wins for his Detroit Compuware midget team in 1981-82 - in 82
104: Goals as a first-year player with Verdun of the Quebec Major
Junior Hockey League in 1982-83, breaking Mike Bossy's rookie record
and beating Mario Lemieux for the league scoring title.
12: Points in 14 playoff games for the 1986-87 Islanders, including
the winning goal in the Easter Epic.
105: Points, on 54 goals and 51 assists, for the 1989-90 Islanders,
who qualified for the playoffs on the last night of the season.
148: Points for the 1992-93 Sabres, his career high.
30: Goals in a season nine times in a 15-year career.
6: Consecutive seasons of 40 goals or more.
5: All-Star Game appearances.
468: Career goals.
62: Career playoff points. Also, his total in the 1997-98 season with
the Rangers, which brought him over 1,000 for his career.
3: Children, daughters Sarah and Brianna and son Daniel, born to
LaFontaine and his wife Marybeth (a couple introduced by former
Islanders assistant coach Lorne Henning). All three play youth hockey
on Long Island.
A look at the NHL, from top to bottom, by Newsday's Alan Hahn and
Islanders 12th from 6th: 5-3-2-0
The best team no one wants to see, considering their home attendance.
The worst team to predict, considering their maddening inconsistency.
This group on a given night goes through more personality changes
than Robin Williams.
Stat of the Day
November 4, 2003
Through Sunday, there were 17 goaltenders with goals-against averages
below 2.00, including the Islanders' Rick DiPietro and the Rangers'
Mike Dunham. Those with five or more games played:
Player, Team GP AVG
Jamie McLennan, Calgary 7 1.36
Patrick Lalime, Ottawa 8 1.60
Rick DiPietro, Islanders 7 1.66
Robert Esche, Philadelphia 5 1.77
Nikolai Khabibulin, Tampa Bay 7 1.82
Martin Gerber, Anaheim 6 1.83
Andrew Raycroft, Boston 7 1.85
Kevin Weekes, Carolina 9 1.85
Mike Dunham, Rangers 9 1.85
Dan Cloutier, Vancouver 8 1.86
Pasi Nurminen, Atlanta 11 1.94
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh 7 1.95
Yashin & Isles pay back Sens
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
If the Islanders were going to secure the victory they had been
chasing for nearly eight years, they were going to earn it.
Coach Steve Stirling told his team as much before the third period
last night. The Isles were clinging to a one-goal cushion against the
potent Ottawa Senators, the team that ousted them in the playoffs
last spring and a nemesis the Isles hadn't defeated on home ice in 17
games since 1996.
Instead of adding to that negative history, though, the Isles
responded with what Stirling called "our best third period of the
season" to complete a rousingly entertaining 6-3 decision in front of
a vocal weeknight crowd of 10,957 at Nassau Coliseum.
"Streak or not, they're one of the teams that we're gunning for,"
said defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who was stellar with a plus-4 rating
over 30:20 of ice time. "Obviously, they knocked us out (of the
playoffs) last year. ... so it was a good test for us and a great
The expectation of another clogged-up snoozer between two trapping
teams never materialized, as both sides enjoyed several solid scoring
chances while the Isles (6-3-2-0) carried a 4-3 lead through two fast-
Trent Hunter (fourth in four games), Mariusz Czerkawski (team-high
ninth), Jason Wiemer (a softie from the Long Island crest in the
neutral zone) and Oleg Kvasha (unassisted) had buried the goals
against Patrick Lalime.
Daniel Alfredsson's score with 1:49 remaining in the second had the
crowd on edge going into the third. But Rick DiPietro (29 saves) and
the Isles' league-leading penalty-killing unit (6-for-6) knocked off
two minor penalties early in the final period.
And the Isles, who didn't see a power play until 14:02 remained
despite a physical game throughout, buried Ottawa when former Senator
Alexei Yashin slammed a PP one-timer from the left circle past Lalime
with 4:02 remaining for his fifth goal and a 5-3 lead.
"Ottawa was coming and coming hard ... we found a way to kill the
penalties and do what we had to do both physically and mentally,"
Stirling said. "We showed a lot of mental toughness tonight, they got
the goal to make it 4-3 and they're coming like gangbusters. ... The
mental toughness in the third period is what I saw that stands out
KNEE BEND: Winger Jason Blake left in first period with what the
Isles termed a mild knee injury; he'll be reevaluated today. Fourth-
line winger Arron Asham was scratched with a strained neck and is day-
to-day. ... RW Mattias Weinhandl (ankle surgery) has resumed skating
at Bridgeport and could be cleared for game action next week. ...
Isles improved to 5-1-0 on home ice, with next two games also at the
Coliseum, Thursday (Dallas) and Saturday (Atlanta).
SENS CAST FROM COLISEUM
By EVAN GROSSMAN
November 4, 2003 --
Islanders 6 - Senators 3
No thanks to the officials, the Islanders beat the Senators on
Coliseum ice last night for the first time since they switched back
from wearing their horrible "fish sticks" uniforms.
The Isles didn't get their first full power play until late in the
third period (versus six for Ottawa), yet they still managed a
resounding 6-3 rout against the elite team of the Eastern Conference.
The last time the Isles defeated the Senators at the Coliseum was
Jan. 6, 1996, in a 5-4 victory. Since then, they had gone 17 games
without a home-ice win over the Sens (0-12-4-1), including a pair of
playoff losses last spring. The Islanders last night avenged all
those winless nights - while upping their home record to 5-1-0-0.
"Streak or not, they're one of the teams we're gunning for," said
Adrian Aucoin, who played 30:20 and recorded a pair of
assists. "Obviously they knocked us out last year, and they have
played quite well against us since I've been here. So it's a good
test for us."
Aucoin made the play of the game, jumping off the ice to keep the
puck in the Ottawa zone before Alexei Yashin rang home his fifth goal
of the year on that power play with 4:02 left to play.
Trent Hunter, the league's top-scoring rookie with four goals, got
the Islanders even at 1-1 when he uncorked a slap shot from the right
point late in the first period. He has five points in the last four
games he's dressed, while Mariusz Czerkawski scored again, putting
him on a pace to score 67 goals this year.
"It was a great challenge today," Yashin said.
While their top-rated penalty kill was snuffing out all six of
Ottawa's extra-man advantages, the Islanders got absolutely no calls
themselves - despite the fact that the Sens appeared to tackle and
hold them on every square inch of the ice. But the Islanders worked,
and they managed to get some breaks against a team that allows so few.
Jason Wiemer's slap - from about where Montauk would be on the
Islanders' center-ice logo - beat Patrick Lalime for a 3-1 Isles'
advantage, and Oleg Kvasha picked off Karel Rachunek's outlet behind
the Ottawa net and stuffed in his fourth of the year on a pretty
* Arron Asham is day-to-day with a strained neck . . . Jason Blake
(knee sprain) left the game in the first following a rubout by
Alfredsson, and will be re-evaluated today.
Hall of Fame Welcomes LaFontaine and Fuhr
By RICK WESTHEAD
Published: November 4, 2003
TORONTO, Nov. 3 â" A series of concussions that left him with
migraines, fatigue and depression drove Pat LaFontaine from the
National Hockey League five years ago. On Monday night, he was
inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, along with the former Edmonton
Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr, who became its first black member.
"To have this as the final stop in your hockey career is as good as
it gets," said LaFontaine, a five-time All-Star who posted six-
straight 40-goal seasons â" four with the Islanders and two with the
Buffalo Sabres â" and scored one of hockey's most memorable goals as
The Detroit Red Wings' owner, Michael Ilitch, and the Canadian junior
hockey coach Brian Kilrea were also inducted.
LaFontaine, a center, has a common thread with the other new members
of the Hall. He left home in St. Louis to play midget hockey in
Detroit in 1982, when Ilitch bought the Red Wings, and he was with
the Islanders when Kilrea was an assistant to Coach Al Arbour.
LaFontaine later played with Fuhr from 1993 to 1995 with the Sabres.
Fuhr, a member of five Stanley Cup-winning teams, including the 1983-
84 Oilers club that ended the Islanders' string of four straight
championships, played down his being the first black player in the
Hall, saying "all the doors had been opened" by the time he began his
Fuhr, a six-time All-Star who played 10 of his 19 seasons with the
Oilers, spoke about playing with Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and other
Edmonton stars of the 1980's and losing to the Islanders in the 1983
finals before beating them the next season in the championship.
"We were a little cocky and arrogant the first time, and maybe didn't
realize the amount of work that went into it," Fuhr said.
LaFontaine, one of hockey's best playmaking forwards in the 1980's
and early 90's, was drafted by the Islanders after starring with the
Verdun Juniors in Quebec's high-scoring amateur league. Two years
after Bobby Carpenter became the first United States-born player
chosen in the first round of the N.H.L. draft, the Islanders selected
LaFontaine with the third choice in 1983.
"I originally dreamed of a college scholarship to Michigan or
Michigan State," LaFontaine said. "I thought maybe I could go on to
the Olympics. I never thought I would cap my career this way."
On April 18, 1987, LaFontaine ended one of hockey's longest overtime
games, beating the Washington Capitals goalie, Bob Mason, in the
fourth overtime in the seventh game of the Islanders' first-round
"I remember looking up in the stands, it was after 2 a.m., and people
were sleeping and they were playing music from `The Twilight Zone,' "
LaFontaine said. "I remember getting the puck and turning around and
shooting, just hoping it would get on net and Mason was screened. It
went off the post and in."
LaFontaine split most of his 15-year career with the Islanders and
the Sabres â" with whom he scored 53 goals and had 148 points in 1992-
93 â" before playing for the Rangers in 1997-98 in his final N.H.L.
season. He scored 468 goals and assisted on 545 others, and played
for the United States in the 1984 and the 1988 Olympics. LaFontaine,
38, sustained a concussion after a collision with his Rangers
teammate Mike Keane on March 16, 1998, that ended his career.
"Some people think because an injury ended my career that I might be
resentful toward the game, but it's actually helped me become what I
am today," LaFontaine said. He spoke of the book he had
written, "Companions in Courage," a collection of stories about young
people who had overcome setbacks.
When Ilitch bought the Red Wings for $8 million, the club was
struggling with just 2,100 season-ticket holders. Under Ilitch, who
also owns baseball's Detroit Tigers, the Red Wings went on to win
three Stanley Cups as Detroit become known as Hockeytown.
Kilrea played briefly in the N.H.L., scoring the first goal in Los
Angeles Kings history. A five-time coach of the year in the junior
Ontario Hockey League, Kilrea became the first junior coach to win
1,000 career games.
ISLANDERS 6, SENATORS 3
Islanders Finally Make the Senators Feel Unwelcome
By RON DICKER
Published: November 4, 2003
UNIONDALE, N.Y., Nov. 3 â" The Islanders' Jason Wiemer shoved one of
those lazy shots from center ice in the second period Monday night,
the kind no one ever expects to go in, certainly not with a
goaltender present. Ottawa Senators goalie Patrick Lalime crouched to
stop the puck, but it somehow squirted by him to give the Islanders a
More important for the Islanders, the unlikely score heralded an
evening of possibilities. The Islanders won, 6-3, stopping a bizarre
streak of futility against the Senators.
Whether in the heat of the playoffs or the doldrums of early
November, the Senators have made themselves at home at Nassau
Coliseum, like a guest who breezes by the living room and heads
straight for the refrigerator.
They had not lost to the Islanders here in 17 straight games,
including two victories in eliminating the Islanders in the first-
round of the playoffs last season. Since Jan. 6, 1996, Ottawa's
record on Long Island had been 13-0-4 entering Monday's game.
"It's a nice thing to get off our backs," defenseman Adrian Aucoin
The Isles' string of hospitality ended thanks to some plucky play and
a tired Lalime, who let in another cheap goal on a 45-foot slap shot
by Trent Hunter.
"We had a couple of good bounces," Wiemer said.
The Islanders (6-3-2-0) gained their second victory in a row on this
four-game homestand and fifth in six home games, but their fans were
not buying it. Just 10,957 showed up.
The Senators (5-3-1-1) know the feeling. Booed off their home ice
after a 1-1 tie with Buffalo on Saturday, they came to their Long
Island haven looking to reassert their dominance here and elsewhere.
Still considered one of the N.H.L.'s elite, they had the Eastern
Conference's best record last season and lost in the conference final
to the Devils.
But their last line of defense had an off night, and the Islanders
"He's been sharper," Wiemer said of Lalime, who made his 10th start
in 11 games, not exactly a nod of confidence to the Senators' backup
goalie, Martin Prusek.
The Isles' Mariusz Czerkawski scored his ninth goal of the season,
Oleg Kvasha shoved in his fourth and Aleksei Yashin his fifth. Their
line has accounted for 18 of the team's 35 goals. Shawn Bates added
The Islanders responded to a 1-0 first-period deficit with three
unanswered goals and never relinquished the lead.
"Things were going pretty well for us, but we knew they wouldn't
quit," Czerkawski said. "We had it in the back of our head. They're
one of the best teams in the N.H.L."
For the first 19 minutes or so, the Senators appeared headed toward
their 18th straight game here without a loss. They left no check
unchecked, and they always kept potential deflectors parked near the
goal in case of an errant shot.
That came in handy on their first goal. Brian Pothier fired from
about 25 feet and struck his teammate Martin Havlat, then another
teammate, Peter Schaefer, before whizzing by Islanders goalie Rick
DiPietro 7 minutes 50 seconds into the game.
Despite an attack that looked tepid by comparison, the Islanders did
not lose contact.
Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson slammed Jason Blake into the wall,
injuring Blake's knee. Blake did not return.
Soon, though, the Islanders' shots began finding their way into the
goal, helping them reclaim their turf.
"We didn't even talk about that beforehand, but we're happy we won
the game," Wiemer said.
A forgettable Island trip
Error-prone Senators run out of luck vs. Isles
By DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was a bad night for Patrick Lalime. A bad night
for Karel Rachunek. A bad night for Todd White.
A bad night for everybody in white.
The Senators were as successful in their light road jerseys as they
have been in home-wear lately, losing 6-3 to the New York Islanders
last night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and extending their
winless streak to three games.
It was also Ottawa's first loss here in almost eight years, dating
back to Jan. 6, 1996 and covering some 16 games.
''Before, we hadn't beaten ourselves. We did (last night),'' said
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. ''We made a lot of individual
mistakes. That's what cost us.
''I was probably one of the worst (of the Senators),'' added
Alfredsson, who scored a goal but was minus-3 on the night. ''It's a
game you try to forget. We've got to regroup and go back to work.''
White, who is now pointless in his first seven games, was also minus-
3. Rachunek, who was caught out of position on one Islander goal and
was relieved of the puck on another, was minus-2.
Lalime suffered the most embarrassment, however. On what may have
been the worst goal he has ever allowed as a Senator, an unscreened
slap shot from the centre ice logo by Jason Wiemer somehow managed to
slip between his left arm and side.
''You guys saw the game. What can I say?'' Lalime said. ''I don't do
that on purpose, I try to stop it. Sometimes it doesn't go your way.
''Those are the kind they won't score on you again. You just move
Overall, three goals beat Lalime that he would have had on another
''It wasn't my best, that's for sure,'' he said. ''You've just got to
bounce back and take the positives out of it. The third (period) was
The teams combined for five goals in a wild second period, and most
were the result of a glaring mistake by someone.
''We gave them three goals they didn't deserve, they didn't have to
work for,'' Alfredsson said. ''That breaks the morale on your team.''
Despite their inadequacies, the Senators still had a chance in the
third when, trailing 4-3, they started the period with a power play.
But as was the case with most parts of their game, they could do
nothing with the man advantage, finishing 0-for-6 for the night.
It was still a one-goal game until the later stages of the final
period, when Alexei Yashin scored at the 15:58 mark. Shawn Bates iced
it with an empty-netter at the buzzer.
Mariusz Czerkawski, Oleg Kvasha and Trent Hunter also scored for the
hosts. Peter Schaefer and Zdeno Chara had the other Ottawa goals.
Alfredsson said it was probably the worst ice ever.
''When you get behind on this ice, it's not easy,'' he said. ''We
were trying to be creative, but the puck would bounce all the time.
You couldn't make a pass.
''It was a frustrating game, for sure.''
The Senators dominated the faceoff circles and led 11-7 in shots in
the first, but still went to the intermission with a 1-1 draw.
Hunter took over the NHL's rookie goal-scoring lead with his fourth --
a slap shot from just inside the blue line that caused Lalime to
shake his head -- just 62 seconds from the buzzer to tie it.
''We started off good in the first, but that late goal hurt us with
one minute left,'' Alfredsson said.
Tue, November 4, 2003
By DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun
Islanders 6, Senators 3 HOW THEY SCORED:
1. SENATORS: Pothier's shot from the point is deflected in by
Schaefer. Sens 1, Isles 0
2. ISLES: Bates drops a pass to Hunter, whose slap shot beats Lalime
on the stick side. Sens 1, Isles 1
3. ISLES: Rachunek gets trapped up ice on an Islanders 3-on-2.
Kvasha's backhand pass goes through Spezza's legs and finds a
trailing Czerkawski, who rips a one-timer past Lalime's glove. Isles
2, Sens 1
4. ISLES: Wiemer's slap shot from centre ice squeezes through an
embarrassed Lalime. Isles 3, Sens 1
5. SENATORS: Chara's quick shot from the top of the right wing
faceoff circle beats DiPietro on the short side. Isles 3, Sens 2
6. ISLES: Kvasha's wraparound catches Lalime by surprise. Isles 4,
7. SENATORS: Alfredsson cuts through the slot and fires a wrist shot
that beats DiPietro. Isles 4, Sens 3
8. ISLES: Czerkawski moves the puck to Yashin, whose shot from the
left wing boards goes off the post and in. Isles 5, Sens 3
9. ISLES: Bates fires the puck into the empty Sens net just before
the buzzer. Isles 6, Sens 3
Selected by Don Brennan
1. Kvasha, Islanders
2. Aucoin, Islanders
3. Chara, Senators
TOP TEN LIST:
IT LOOKED LIKE THEY DIDN'T KNOW: Former Isles great Pat Lafontaine
and former Isles assistant coach Brian Kilrea were inducted into the
Hockey Hall of Fame last night. And there was nary a mention of it at
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum -- until about nine minutes
remained in the game, that is.
WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: Yes fellas, the lovely and talented
Dina is back as the in-arena hostess. Readers will remember her as a
spectacular Sunshine girl in last spring's playoffs.
A KNOCKOUT HIT: Playing the point on the power play, Alfredsson
looked a little like Denis Potvin the way he crushed Jason Blake into
the boards on a first-period break. Blake, the Isles second-leading
scorer last season, left the game with a sprained knee.
NEVER GETS OLD: They play the Chicken Song here, to which the fans
love to chant "The Rangers Suck." Priceless.
MISTER, CAN YOU SPARE A MATCH?: Isles coach Steve Stirling says he's
not a big one for matching lines. Must of been coincidence, then,
that Alexei Yashin was usually on the ice every time Jason Spezza
was. Mike Peca also saw a lot of Radek Bonk.
A SHORTSTOP-LIKE MOVE: Patrick Lalime dove across his crease to stop
rookie Trent Hunter from scoring his second of the game.
REMEMBER ME?: Vaclav Varada gave his old Buffalo bud, Peca, a solid
two-hander along the boards in the first. No penalty.
PAYBACK: Peca got Varada back with a cross-check to the back of the
head with one second left in the second period. Penalty.
SOMETIMES, FIRST AIN'T SO GOOD: Sens LW Petr Schastlivty was a
healthy scratch for the first time this season. He has one goal and
one assist in nine games.
ALMOST SIN-LESS: The Senators didn't get a penalty until Martin
Havlat was called for slashing six minutes into the third.
Sun Rating: 2 out of 5
Tue, November 4, 2003
All good things come to end for Bonk
By DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Marian Hossa knew, Radek Bonk didn't. "I realize
it," Hossa said yesterday morning. "But I'm not saying anything to
him about it.
"I just want him to keep going."
Hours later, Islanders hotshot Rick DiPietro did something no other
goalie has done this season.
He kept Bonk off the scoreboard.
The longest serving Senator had his NHL-leading point-scoring streak
stopped at nine games in last night's 6-3 loss to the Isles.
Bonk remains co-holder of the Senators record for the most consistent
start to a season, a mark he shares with his buddy Hossa.
Prior to the game, Bonk was taken aback when told he had chance to
bump his buddy's name from the record book.
"I didn't even know they kept records for that," Bonk said. "I'm not
going into (last night's) game thinking about beating the record.
It's kind of a silly record.
"I'm getting some bounces and a little luck right now ... sometimes
you have it and sometimes you don't. But I can play better."
That has to be a thrilling thought for the Senators.
Through the first nine games of the season, Bonk has been an
offensive catalyst. His four goals and eight assists had him among
the NHL's top 10 scorers heading into last night. His 10 power-play
points tied him with the Kings' Ziggy Palffy for the league league.
"It probably goes back to last year," said Senators coach Jacques
Martin. "In the playoffs, he was one of our better forwards ... Since
the beginning of the season, he's been very consistent."
At the same time, Bonk has also made an appearance change. This
season, he's been coming to the rink with a hoop earring dangling off
"It's new for Ottawa," he said, "but I've worn two earrings every
summer since I was 14 or 15. I've just never worn them during the
Asked why not, he said: "Obviously, you can't play with them on, and
the pair I had before were kind of hard to put on. These aren't. It's
no big deal."
A big deal is what the 27-year-old Bonk should get from Senators
owner Eugene Melnyk when his contract expires at season's end. At a
salary of $3.5 million, he's a bargain -- especially since his skills
extend to all areas of the ice and he has an obvious, special
chemistry with Hossa, and Hossa and Martin Havlat when the Senators
are on the power play.
Not being able to see such talent play together is going to be dearly
missed if the NHL closes shop over a contract dispute next season.
If there is a work stoppage, Bonk will make alternative plans.
"It's still far away," he said, "but obviously I'd like to play at
home in the Czech Republic.
''We don't want the NHL to stop, but if it happens, it would be kind
of fun to play at home again."
LaFontaine 'the luckiest guy'
TORONTO -- Pat LaFontaine beamed a smile when he grasped the irony of
it all. He played midget hockey in Detroit the year Mike Ilitch
bought the Red Wings, he played for the New York Islanders when Brian
Kilrea was an assistant coach, he and Grant Fuhr were Buffalo Sabres
teammates, and fate weaved those connections all the way to the
Hockey Hall of Fame when the four were inducted together yesterday.
"To be here with these three guys, I feel like the luckiest guy in
the world," LaFontaine said during interviews after the four received
their rings and blazers.
LaFontaine, who helped the United States win the World Cup tournament
in 1996, was a crafty centre who scored 468 goals and amassed 1,013
points in an NHL career which began in 1984 with the New York
Islanders and was cut short in 1998 by concussions. He is not bitter
it ended too soon.
"Guys who have gone through post-concussion syndrome will tell you it
changes your perspective on life," LaFontaine explained. "You don't
have as much control as you think you do. You reflect and you learn
to appreciate the little things ... and truly embrace what you have."
Ilitch bought the Red Wings, a terrible team with only 2,100 season-
ticket holders, for $8 million US and turned it into a three-time NHL
"I sometimes wonder how it all happened," Ilitch, 74, said of the
Hockeytown culture. "But we brought in colourful players and the fans
related to them immediately.
"Our players and the blue-collar people in our community could
communicate very easily and it didn't have to be verbal. It was the
players we had, that was part of it, and we had good marketing
people" who came up with the Hockeytown tag.
Fuhr earned five Stanley Cup rings stopping pucks for the Edmonton
Oilers. He had a great glove hand, and supplied the big-moment saves
that enabled teammates to spend most of their time in the
He's the first black player to be inducted but downplays the fact in
deference to Willie O'Ree, who in 1957 was the first black player in
the NHL and who now is involved in the league's minorities programs.
"It's a special honour but it's not something I ever really grew up
with," explained Fuhr, 41. "I mean, having got to know Willie and all
the things Willie went through, by the time I got to play all the
doors had been opened."
Tue, November 4, 2003
Kilrea savours hockey's highest honour
By CHRIS STEVENSON, Ottawa Sun
TORONTO -- They paraded down the red carpet last night at the Hockey
Hall of Fame and their faces, more than the plaque, the blazer or the
ring, will stand as the true tribute to Brian Kilrea and what he has
meant to the game of hockey. Jim Ralph, Jim Fox, Bobby Smith, Doug
Wilson ... one after the other, Kilrea's ex-players turned out to be
a part of his big night as the 67's coach and general manager was
enshrined in the Hall.
"He's like the Peace Tower in Ottawa," said Ralph. "He's always
there. The thing that gets me now is how long ago it was (I played
for him). You think about all the years and all the players."
That's what was on the minds of those who knew him best last night.
"The thing you think about on a night like this is the number of
people he has touched in hockey," said Fox, who played for Kilrea,
went on to play in the NHL and is now a colour commentator for the
Los Angeles Kings.
"You look at the guys here tonight and what a huge impact he has had
on so many guys down through the years."
The other inductees -- players Grant Fuhr and Pat LaFontaine and
Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch -- earned their places as
honoured members last night for producing goals, assists, saves and
When you think about it, Kilrea earned his for producing people,
turning kids into men, prospects into pros. Some went on to hockey
greatness. Many others took the lessons they learned and built
successful lives out of hockey.
Ed Hospodar drove eight hours from Philadelphia to spend some time
with Kilrea on Sunday. Steve Payne made the effort as well.
"It's a tremendous honour, one you can only dream about," said Kilrea
in his acceptance speech.
He thanked his wife Judy, "his biggest fan and supporter," and
remembered how she volunteered him to coach their son's team.
"Dad was supposed to be the assistant, but the fellow who was
coaching said, 'you should coach the team and I'll be the manager,' "
remembered Billy Kilrea yesterday.
Little did that fellow know what a career he was starting.
Kilrea, near as anybody can figure, becomes the first coach to be
inducted based on his accomplishments in junior hockey.
For all but two of his now 30 years in coaching, Kilrea has been with
the 67's (he spent one year as only the general manager of the 67's).
He spent two years (1984-86) as an assistant with the New York
His thousand wins stand as the benchmark in junior hockey, but what
his players remember is the man and his mind.
Smith remembered Kilrea's lightning quick wit. During one road trip,
the boys were acting up after a game, having a water fight in their
hotel. Smith was rooming with Ron Davidson. There was a knock on the
door; Smith loaded up a bucket with water.
When Davidson yanked the door open, Smith unloaded -- on Kilrea.
Davidson swears -- and I don't know if this true -- but he swears he
heard Kilrea say, "Davidson, it that was you, you're suspended.
Smith, if that was you, we'll talk about it tomorrow."
Afterwards, Kilrea mingled with the other inductees, guests, friends
and family, looking sharp in his tuxedo.
"I was nervous," he said, "but I got to thank everybody I wanted to
He also thanked assistant coaches Bert Templeton and Vince Malette,
scout Joe Rowley, and Ted Baker and Dave Branch of the Ontario Hockey
"I never thought when I started a long time ago I'd still be
connected to hockey in any capacity. But my dad always said things
always work out for the best," said Kilrea in concluding his speech.
"And there's nothing better than this."
A KILLER TRIBUTE
The inscription on Brian Kilrea's plaque at the Hockey Hall of Fame
Brian Kilrea played 15 seasons of pro hockey capturing three Calder
Cup titles and playing 26 games for Detroit and Los Angeles. After
retirement in 1970, Kilrea became head coach of the Ottawa 67's
junior club, spending all but two of the next 31 years training
future stars. Kilrea led the 67's to Memorial Cup titles in 1984 and
1999 while earning five Coach of the Year awards. During the 2002-03
season, he became the first junior coach to win 1,000 games and had
the CHL Top Coach Award named in his honour.
Builder Inductee, 2003.
Isle right at home
Ex-Hab Czerkawski rediscovers scoring touch
By DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Mariusz Czerkawski feels more at home on an Isle
than even Gilligan ever did. One of the best players to come out of
Poland, the 31-year-old left winger is off to a lightning-quick start
for the New York Islanders this season.
He is the team's leading scorer with nine goals and five assists in
11 games, including a goal and an assist in last night's 6-3 victory
over the Senators.
It's been an about-face for Czerkawski, whose one-year stint with the
Montreal Canadiens was a disaster.
"I never wanted to leave here in the first place," said Czerkawski,
who averaged 24 goals in five seasons with the Islanders before he
was traded to the Habs in the summer of 2002 for Arron Asham and a
draft pick. "I'm very glad to be back. I've had the opportunity to
play with some good hockey players, with Oleg (Kvasha) and (Alexei)
Yashin, and to get some ice time.
"But I don't want to get too high or too low. I know what the other
side looks like and I don't want to be there again."
How bad was his experience with the Habs?
Czerkawski, who broke into the NHL with Boston in 1993 and had 35
goals for the Islanders in 1999-2000, was demoted to the minors for
the first time in his career. He wound up on a Montreal-Hamilton
shuttle, playing 43 games with the Canadiens and 20 for their AHL
"It was tough," said Czerkawski, who has already surpassed the five
goals he scored in the NHL last season. "It's not like I didn't want
it. I was excited to be with a great team, with a great history.
''But the third game I was benched, the fourth game I was scratched
and after that it was a rollercoaster, up and down. When I did get a
chance to play, I couldn't score. It was the low point of my career.
"Life is much better than it was a half-year ago," added Czerkawski,
who signed with the Isles as a free agent July 17. "I'm starting to
get more and more interviews. There are Polish (TV) crews all over
the place. There's a big Polish community a half-hour from here, so
when I need a home-cooked meal it's no problem.
"When I had an opportunity, I said to my agent, 'That's the team I
want to be with if they're interested.' They were."
Also taking every opportunity to tell everybody how happy he is on
Long Island is Yashin, who was surpassed by Daniel Alfredsson as the
Senators' all-time leading scorer on Oct. 15.
"Eventually, it was going to happen," said Yashin. "I have no problem
with that. I played eight years in Ottawa and I tried to do
everything I could on the ice for that team. Now, I'm in New York and
I'm trying to do the same thing here."
Fantasy on Island comes to an end
Senators' first loss in Islanders' arena since 1996; Islanders 6,
The Ottawa Citizen
November 4, 2003
UNIONDALE, New York -- The last time the Ottawa Senators had lost at
Nassau County Coliseum, Daniel Alfredsson was an NHL rookie, Mike
Bales was the goaltender and the illustrious Dave "Sparky" Allison
was head coach.
Until last night, that is.
The New York Islanders put an end to their seven-year Senators' itch,
dating back 15 games (11 losses and four ties) to Jan. 6, 1996, with
a 6-3 win.
The Islanders' victory also extended the Senators losing streak to
two games and their winless streak to three.
While Alfredsson registered career point No. 500 with a second-period
goal, he was in little mood to celebrate the milestone.
"Our line had been on for three goals against already. The goal gave
us a chance and I was hoping we could come back and win, but it
doesn't mean a whole lot," Alfredsson said. "We made a lot of
individual mistakes, and I was probably one of the worst (offenders)."
Coach Jacques Martin also wasn't pleased.
"We made some mistakes and gave them some goals," he said. "Sometimes
it's a lack of focus and attention to detail, (instead of) not trying
to force things when it's not there. We gave them some freebies."
The Senators (5-3-0-1) also received goals from Zdeno Chara and Peter
Schaefer. The Islanders (6-3-2-0) goals came from Trent Hunter,
Mariusz Czerkawski, Jason Wiemer, Oleg Kvasha, Shawn Bates and former
Senators star Alexei Yashin.
Yashin's power-play goal with four minutes left put the game out of
reach, and Bates scored into an empty net with one second left.
The Senators started well last night, but were done in by a sloppy
second period, when the clubs exchanged five goals.
Even though Alfredsson's milestone goal late in the period pulled the
Senators to within 4-3 heading into the third, it was not a period
that would be remembered fondly by goaltender Patrick Lalime.
Lalime allowed three goals in the period, including one by Wiemer on
a slap shot from just inside the red-line. Wiemer's end-over-end shot
squeezed between Lalime's body and arm and found its way into the
back of the net.
Lalime had plenty of time to think about the goal as it was replayed
several times on the jumbo video board before play resumed.
"It's one of those goals they won't score again," he said. "What can
I say? It wasn't my best game, but you just have to bounce back and
take whatever positives you can."
At the very least, the Senators showed some heart in attempting to
battle back from a pair of two-goal deficits, but Martin was not
With the Senators down 4-3 and pressing for the tying goal on a power
play six minutes into the third, a slashing penalty to Martin Havlat
wasn't received well by the coach.
Martin also juggled his forward lines all night and had words with
centre Jason Spezza after Spezza attempted a flashy move inside the
Islanders' zone late in the second period, turning a 2-on-1 break
into a 2-on-3.
It was one of many fundamental mistakes that Martin will attempt to
deal with when the Senators return to practice today at the Corel
Centre. The Senators also went 0-for-6 on the power play, turned away
by the NHL's best penalty-killing club.
Alfredsson said ice conditions were the "worst ever," which he said
made it next to impossible to complete a pass with the man advantage.
The club-record-tying point streak of centre Radek Bonk, who had at
least one point in each of the Senators' first nine games of the
season, also ended. The Senators' overall consecutive-game point
streak remains 13, by Marian Hossa.
Citizen Three Stars
1. Adrian Aucoin, New York
2. Zdeno Chara, Ottawa
3. Oleg Kvasha, New York
Entertainment value: ***
Attendance: 10,957 (16,234 capacity)
Czerkawski revels in quick start
Habs' castoff rediscovers game with Islanders
The Ottawa Citizen
November 4, 2003
UNIONDALE, New York -- Three New York and three Ottawa reporters were
at Mariusz Czerkawski's dressing room stall following yesterday
A TV crew from Czerkawski's native Poland was also on hand. Then came
pesky Islanders left-winger Jason Blake with his own video camera,
saying, "I just want to be part of Mariusz Czerkawski media day, too."
Everyone wants time with Czerkawski these days. He's only too happy
to accept the requests.
After going through his own personal hell last season in the Montreal
Canadiens' organization, Czerkawski is relishing being back in the
spotlight for the Islanders, the team he starred for from 1997-2002.
A month into the 2003-04 season, it seems like he never left.
Czerkawski, 31, scored once and added an assist in last night's 6-3
win over the Senators, bringing his team-leading totals on the season
to nine goals and 14 points. He has combined with former Senators
star centre Alexei Yashin and Oleg Kvasha to form one of the NHL's
"I'm starting to get more and more interviews, and the Polish crews
are all over the place here," said Czerkawski, smiling for his fans
back home. "There's a big Polish community here and I never have to
go far for a good home-cooked meal. Things are going well so far,
compared to last year."
A year ago at this time, the Canadiens had already dispatched
Czerkawski to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Hamilton
Bulldogs. He split the year between Montreal and Hamilton, scoring
only five goals and nine assists in 43 games for the Canadiens. He
was a healthy scratch for Hamilton during the AHL playoffs. Following
the season, the Canadiens bought out the remainder of his contract
for $1.8 million U.S., and the Islanders re-signed him as a free
agent for $900,000.
"That was the low point in my career, and basically, it was either I
make it here or I pack my bags and go back to Europe," said
Czerkawski, who scored 35 goals and 35 assists for the Islanders in
1999-2000. "This is my second chance and I have to try and make the
most of it. I'm not trying to get too high because I know what the
lows are like on the other side, but it's nice to have that feeling
again. You try and believe in yourself."
Islanders coach Steve Stirling says returning to Long Island gave
Czerkawski "a new lease on life" and Yashin says "confidence is a big
thing in the NHL."
Still, Czerkawski is surprised at how quick his start has been.
"If someone told me I would have three goals after 10 games, I would
have taken it, but I'm not apologizing for having eight goals. I've
had some opportunities, some lucky bounces off skates. I know it's a
Nothing, however, could be as long as last season.
November 4, 2003
Being No. 2 Just Fine With Yashin
Three weeks ago, Daniel Alfredsson scored his 492nd point as a member
of the Ottawa Senators organization, bumping Alexei Yashin to second
on the club's all-time points list. But Yashin, now with the New York
Islanders, said yesterday he isn't losing any sleep over the
matter. "Eventually it was going to happen, I don't have a problem
with that," he said before last night's game. "I played eight years
in Ottawa, I tried to do whatever I could on the ice to help the team
win, but now that I'm in New York, I'm doing the same here." Yashin
still holds Senators records for most career goals scored (218) and
most points in a season. Yashin had 94 points during the 1998-99