One-on-One With Matt Carkner
The New York Islanders signed three players on July 1st, including defenseman Matt Carkner. His addition to the Isles will bring a new element of physicality and toughness on the blue line.
A big and strong crease clearing defenseman has been needed since Andy Sutton was traded a few years ago to the Ottawa Senators. Carkner's grit and willingness to stick up for his teammates will certainly make the Islanders a tougher team to play against.
Carkner and I had a chance to talk on the phone yesterday to discuss what he's been up to this off-season, what happened on July 1st and what he plans on bringing to the table once he puts on the orange and blue sweater.
I understand you recently got back from vacation...go anywhere good?
Yeah, it was Maui. I booked this trip last September and we planned it for July not knowing what was going to happen and obviously I was lucky enough to sign with the Islanders the days before I left for my trip so I had a fun time to celebrate signing with a new team and I'm ready for next season. (Photo credit: Dan4th/Flickr)
Have you been able to visit Long Island yet?
No I haven't. I just kind of spoke with Garth and I think I'm set to go up there in August. Kind of get involved in the area, the rink, get to see the players. It should be a good time in training.
As you might know, the Islanders are usually a team that isn't very active on the first day of free agency, usually making their signings as the summer moves forward. But they were very busy on the first day, not only signing you, but forwards Eric Boulton and Brad Boyes. What did the Islanders do in order to assure you that Long Island was the right place for you to sign?
Well one thing, obviously the Islanders were very involved, basically Garth took the time to talk to me, and Doug Weight and some other people, proved to me what Long Island was about and that they would like me to sign. I think actually it was good for my wife because my wife, she didn't really know Long Island at all. I think she was thinking it was more like a big city, she wasn't too sure but overall they kind of just made the decision simple, not only for my hockey career, but for my family.
There was some confusion on that day, as it was prematurely reported that you had signed with a different club. How close were you to actually signing with the Colorado Avalanche?
Actually Colorado was basically my first offer on that day and I don't know what happened there. Obviously there was some miscommunication that led them to believe that I had accepted a deal. I had spoken with some staff in Colorado, but at that period in time, to let them know where we were going just to keep everything straight. But it wasn't really between Colorado and the Islanders. There was another team.
What other team was pursuing you?
The Edmonton Oilers was interested.
The Islanders have some young defenseman with Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic, and some stable veterans in Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky. What can everyone expect you to contribute to next season's defense?
Yeah I noticed that obviously there's another five guys tight in there right now. Yeah, for me I am just going to contribute how I always have; physical presence, steady D play, moving the puck quick, making simple plays, being reliable. I' m not going to rush the puck end to end and dangle and make crazy plays but I am going to be definitely a dependable defenseman, hopefully help out on some penalty kills. Obviously I am a physical presence that will be physical every chance I get. Obviously I'll step in there if I have to protect my teammates. (- JS - /Flickr)
What are the rest of your plans for the off-season?
Basically I'm training. I'm training for the season coming up. I'm getting ready to be the best I can be for the Islanders.
His best will certainly be a welcomed addition to a now tougher blue line.