Isles Skaters Begin Training Despite Potential Lockout
Despite talks of another NHL season getting wiped out entirely, many players from the New York Islanders have returned to the Island to prepare for training camp. This week, Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner, Michael Grabner, Kirill Kabanov, Andrew MacDonald, Brock Nelson, Nino Niederreiter, Frans Nielsen, Marty Reasoner and Johan Sundstrom took part in some informal skates at Islanders Ice Works in Syosset. (Photo Credit: Islanders Hockey Blog/Flickr).
These players have not only been skating, but they have been active off the ice as well. Just yesterday Michael Grabner signed 150 autographs for the first group of fans to attend the grand opening of the Cantiague Park Pro Shop.
The past few weeks have been important for guys like Boulton and Carkner, who are just meeting some of their Islanders teammates for the first time after signing contracts with the organization on the first day of Free Agency.
The younger skaters like Kabanov, Nelson, Niederreiter and Sundstrom will be looking to impress right from the get-go. Although Niederreiter spent the majority of 2012 with the Islanders, there is a good chance he might start next season in Bridgeport even if the NHL starts on time. Nelson and Sundstrom will likely resume their duties with the Sound Tigers while Kabanov is just only a month away from finally playing on the ice of a professional hockey league.
Judging by some of Kabanov's recent tweets (yes, the charismatic Russian is back on Twitter), he seems very happy to be back on Long Island.
It has to be very difficult for these players knowing that their early training and hard work might ultimately be for nothing since both the NHLPA and the owners have yet to resume formal negotiations this weekend. Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy Bill Daly met informally with Donald and Steve Fehr, the representatives of the players union, both yesterday and today as well. TSN reports there is a chance they may have another informal session tomorrow.
Regardless of these talks, the writing is on the wall and it's crystal clear: there is only seven days remaining for these two sides to come up with a new CBA to prevent the league's second lockout in eight years.
Unfortunately, it looks as if the Islanders skaters that have begun their training might be skating in circles longer than they intended.