Matt Carkner: Cult Hero in the making?
Steve Giangaspro on Tue, 2013-01-15 21:05
Lost in the flurry of what fans are referring affectionately as "Lubo Gate", the Islanders became a whole lot tougher in the off season. They did this by signing a man who has no problem dropping the gloves in defense of his teammates.
Matt Carkner quietly signed a three year deal worth $4.5 million dollars. Carkner is not what you would call an offensive defenseman but he does come with a grittiness that leaves a mark. (Photo Credit: Flickr/bobfina72)
Just ask the players that had to be scraped off of the boards from his bone crunching hits.
In his unofficial initiation to Islanders fans' hearts, he became public enemy number one during the Senators' playoff series where they pushed the Rangers to the limit. Who can forget his assault on Brian Boyle which earned him a one game suspension?
While most would not condone his egregious attack on Boyle, his passion has to be commended. Carkner is a player that leaves it all on the ice for the logo on his jersey. That passion is something fans on Long Island will fall in love with immediately.
Matt Carkner is an Islanders cult hero in waiting.
There is little doubt that Carkner will surface to the top of conversation when the Islanders first meet the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 7th. Rangers fans and players alike have not forgotten what transpired between him and Boyle. There is bad blood that still exists and it will carry over although he has switched uniforms.
Carkner's actions during the playoffs last year will no doubt spark an already volatile powder keg atmosphere that Rangers/Islanders creates.
Oh boy. As if this rivalry needed more fire power.
Eastern Conference teams are far too familiar with his play with him having spent recent years as a main defensive cog in Ottawa. Most importantly, he has all teams on notice of what he brings to the ice physically. (Photo Credit: Flickr/ Official New York Islanders)
With Carkner's presence on the ice, the young New York Islanders are less likely to be as overpowered as they seemed to be at times last year. With Trevor Gillies leaving the role of enforcer in 2011-12, they were left without much muscle on the ice.
The Islanders felt that they really had to sacrifice a lot to keep the limited Gillies on the ice when needed so they opted to only dress him for 3 games in 2011-12. There was a huge need for some protection for the offensive players who were taking a pounding nightly.
Matt Martin can't be the only player taking the body on the ice on a nightly basis.
At the very least with Carkner, his defensive skills and surprisingly good stick handling in the defensive zone won't be handicapping the team when he is on the ice.
Fans will love his classic style of playing defense and his tenacity to go after players with the puck. But fans will love mostly that he wants to play here.
They must have smiled ear to ear when reading the excellent Q & A with Checking Line's own Rob McGowan back in July 2012. His willingless to be in Uniondale is a breath of fresh air compared to our dear friend Lubomir.
Carkner had nothing but great things to say about the organization and what the future holds. He seems genuinely excited for the season and learning more about Long Island. (Photo Credit: Flickr/ sophnsoph9)
Standing at 6 foot 4 inches, he has a menacing figure that intimidates. Carkner will assume a leadership role by default on a very young Islanders team. From all accounts, Matt Carkner seems to be an excellent teammate.
There is little doubt he will be winning over the hearts of the Islanders faithful when he drops the gloves with his old friends on the Rangers.
He has the potential of being a cult hero in the making. History has favored players who drop the gloves for the orange and blue. They are loved like no other type of players in Islanders' history. He looks to join the likes of Cairns, Vukota, Baumgartner, Webb, Howatt, Godard, Pilon, and Belanger in the hearts of fans at the Coliseum as a beloved enforcer.
Fans will get their first look at the new look Islanders' blue line on Saturday 1/19 against the Devils at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.