Milbury is getting itchy trigger finger.
From this fans perspective, it is Mike who should go. He has clainmed responsibility for the Isles 3 week slide after breaking up the “good ole boys” group that formed when the Isles took their team to West Virginia for training camp. This group that wore jeans and CAT tractor hats included Wiemer, Peca, Aucoin and some other veterans. Rookies couldn’t break into the group. Getting rid of Wiemer not only was supposed to save salary, but break this group up. The remaining players countered with “Members Only” t-shirts. There is obviously friction in that locker room. The Isles started very strongly winning 7 of their first 11, however they have won only 2 of their last 11 since Jason Wiemer was let go. They have lost 6 in a row.Islander fans have restarted the “Mike Must Go” chant at the Coliseum and now fans have took out their frustration on captain Michael Peca, who has only 2 goals this year. Yet it was the benching of Mariusz Czerkawski, the team’s leading scorer that pissed me off. Yes, he is slumping, but at least he has one goal over his last 7 games and 12 on the year. Alexei Yashin has no goals in 12 games.
The Islanders play the Rangers tonight at the Coliseum where the Rangers have won 5 of the last 7. Milbury ripped his team saying if they don’t get in shape, they will be gone. “We have all-star defensemen playing like chumps. We have goaltenders who look behind them even before they make the save. We have All-Star forwards that have scored so few goals, it’s unthinkable.” His speach is supposed to fire up the team before a huge emotional game. If they win, great, but if not, look out.
Scouts from Calgary and Chicago have been trailing the team. But now scouts from Anaheim, Atlanta, Ottawa, Toronto, and Tampa have started showing up. There has even been talk the Isles might make a deal to get Mike Comrie of Edmonton in return for one of their players. Some other players the Isles might be interested in are Tyler Arnason of Chicago and Denis Gauthier of Calgary. Some of the players mentioned leaving are Peca, Parrish, and Hamrlik. There has even been talk that if someone were to take Yashin’s contract, the Isles might listen. “Something’s got to give,” he said. “Somebody’s got to go.”
One thing that has been reported by several sources (Newsday, NY Post and MSG.com) is that Milbury is safe for now. This amazes me. The team asked for a coaching change. He gave it to them. Other than Czerkawski and getting rid of Steve Webb, the team is basically the same. They are struggling with the same issues that plagued them towards the end of last season. He has even said it is not the coaches fault. I agree the team should take a lot of the blame, but c’mon, how long do we have to take this? When the new ownership group (almost 4 years old now) took over, they knew nothing about hockey. They actually read “Hockey for Dummies.” You would think Charles Wang would make some contacts and explore a new GM. Would he have put up with this at Computer Associates when he ran the place? I doubt it.
As the NY Post said, staring down the barrel of a seventh straight loss tonight against the hated Rangers, the Islanders should show up with a considerable load of emotion. If they don’t, Milbury’s trigger finger is already twitching.