Mark Lawrence Has Gotten Your Mail
(September 30) Islander right wing Mark Lawrence answers many of the emails you sent
his way. He wanted to thank the many fans that wanted to wish him good luck in the season.
SLAMS: Do you think you can be a strong leader on the Islanders this year?
M.L.: I think so. I'm not going to be a guy who yells around or anything. I let my hard
work on the ice speak for itself. We have a real good captain in Kenny Jonsson and guys like
Claude Lapointe and Rich Pilon who players in the lockerroom look up to. We have a lot of
young players now so I'll be there for them if they need any help or have questions about NHL
Johnny L: What do you think about the team compared to last year?
M.L.: I think there's a lot of talent with this team this year. People think just because we
have lots of young players we don't have that. We'll be okay. We're going to play hard and
come to the rink to compete every night.
Buckpasser1: Earlier in the summer, it was reported that you were near an agreement
with the Lightning. It was later negated by your free agent status. Can you elaborate on this?
M.L.: First of all, I always wanted to be an Islander from day one. The Islanders gave me
my first real chance to play in this league and I'm grateful for it. As for any free agent offers,
that comes with the territory. If you are a free agent, teams are going to make offers. It was a
weird situation because my status went back and forth. But it's behind me now, I'm glad to be
here and ready to have a good year.
Nyisles09: What happened during those first five years of your career? Do you think that
you were given a fair shot?
M.L.: No, I don't think I was given a fair shot. I thought I had worked hard every year to
improve and get in good shape. But things didn't work out there and I'm glad I had the chance
to come to the Islanders and prove that I can play at this level.
Mark: How do you think the team will fare this season? Are the playoffs a possibility?
How would you rate Tim Connolly?
M.L.: I think we're going to be fine. As I said before, we have a lot of talent in the room.
We have great goaltending with Felix and Flats [Wade Flaherty]. We have some very capable
defensemen like Kenny Jonsson, Zdeno Chara and Eric Brewer who are very important to this
team. There are guys like Mariusz Czerkawski, Mats Lindgren and Claude Lapointe who are
proven players at this level.
Anything can happen and that also includes making the playoffs. If we come to the rink,
do our jobs and listen to Butch [Goring], then there's no reason that we can't be there. I think
we can catch some people by surprise.
Tim Connolly is a very talented hockey player. You have to remember he's only 18-years
old and there's a lot for him to learn down the road. But there's no doubting his abilities. He just
needs experience like every hockey player goes through during his career.
VHrunnin99: Do you think a 35-goal season is a reasonable goal for yourself?
M.L.: I don't go out and set numbers on what my goal totals should be at the end of the
season. I just want to play my game, work hard in the corners and be responsible and the
chances will come.
Steven Seigel: Why does it take certain players many more years in the minors to
establish their game? Do you think it's a mental or physical maturing process?
M.L.: A lot of it has to do with a player just getting a shot to stick with a team. In this
age, teams are paying guys who are 19- and 20-years old a lot of money to play and they
aren't going to sit them in the press box. Some people need to develop the mental part of the
game, too, and they find that in the minors. It all depends on the player and their situation.
Eddie Quintero: When you were growing up playing hockey, who was the one player
you wanted to be like and who do you think you resemble now?
M.L.: I was a big Wayne Gretzky fan growing up. It was sad to see him retire because
he changed the game. As for right now, I think I play a lot like Tim Kerr [who used to be on the
FANFORLIFE: How do you rank this team's chemistry?
M.L.: I think we have a great bunch of guys. Everyone gets along and I think when we
went away to Lake Placid [for training camp] that it really helped every get to know each other.
Whitey: As a professional hockey player, with your grueling schedule, is it difficult
finding time for fishing, golfing and drinking Paisano?
M.L.: Well, Whitey, you know as a professional hockey athlete the grueling schedule
requires me to be in tip-top condition. You don't have much time for extra-cirricular activities
Greg and Jeff D. from Holbrook: Is the style of play that much more physical in the
Eastern Conference versus the Western Conference?
M.L.: I think so. Our conference is much more physical with teams like the Flyers,
Bruins and Devils. But the west is much more quick and open.
Kruk17: How much does an empty arena effect the players on the ice?
M.L.: I don't think it does at all.
Turgfan77: I know this will never be shown to him, but I'd love to ask him where he gets
the nerve to ask a million a year after a 14 goal year?
M.L.: First of all, I didn't ask for a million dollars. If you want to take it one step further, I
wouldn't say there would be any nerve involved if I did. This is what the marketplace dictates for
a pro-rated 25-goal scorer. It was an uncommon situation being, at first thought, an unrestricted
free agent at age 26. As I said before, this is where I wanted to be and I'm glad the Islanders
and I settled on a contract.
Mike F.: I'm a huge Islander fan, but my favorite individual player is Mike Modano. Being
that you played with him in Dallas, what's it like to play with him?
M.L.: Mike's an unbelievable player. He has tons of talent. There aren't many people in
this league that play like him. He can skate, shoot and score. He does it all.
Yarko: Is there any difference between players' attitudes this preseason as opposed to
M.L.: I think there's a better focus. Butch has really gotten the players to think about
hockey and doing their jobs. The arena situation is different than last year, so that didn't weigh
in our minds.
ISLES4Lyfe: I'd like to know your opinion of Mike Milbury as a General Manager and
Butch Goring as a coach so far.
M.L.: Mike's done a great job of acquiring lots of talent up and down the roster that's
going to give us the chance of being a real successful team for many years. I played for Butch
in the minors and I think he's doing a great job. Once the players begin to get used to the
systems he has in place, we're only going to get better as a team.
Nyislanders 7983: If you could play with any two guys on your line on the Isles, who
would they be?
M.L.: Last year, I played with Claude Lapointe all year long and I think we developed
some good chemistry. As for the other guy, I'll play with anyone who the coaches would put