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New York Islanders

Could the Buffalo Bills Provide Path to Get Islanders Fans into Games?

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NHL New York Islanders fans at Nassau Coliseum

Could New York Islanders fans hope of being able to sit in Nassau Coliseum one final time to watch a hockey game get some help from a football team in upstate New York?

While the NHL is gearing up to open training camps in just over a week, up in Albany New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is working with the Buffalo Bills on a plan to allow up to 6,700 fans to attend the Bills’ first home playoff game in person. The plan, being devised by New York State and the Bills, would involve having fans entering the stadium to take rapid COVID-19 tests, with mandatory face-covering and social distancing. Tailgating would be prohibited.

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New York would become the first state to require COVID testing to allow fans into sporting events if the plan is approved.

So where do the New York Islanders and their fans come in? Well, should the state put this plan into effect it could open the door for this model to be used for other forms of entertainment venues, including NHL arenas.

The New York Islanders, along with the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres, is expected to begin the 2020-21 season without fans in their arenas. The NBA returned to action this past week with the Brooklyn Nets hosting the Golden State Warriors in an empty Barclays Center, the Islanders’ former home rink.

If the Bills and Gov. Cuomo’s office are able to successfully pull off their plan, it’s easy to see NHL owners in New York exploring a similar path. Several markets, including Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Arizona and in Florida, could have fans in the building in a limited capacity.

Using the Bills’ number of 6,700, the Islanders could look at allowing 3,000 or so fans into the Nassau Coliseum for home games while keeping fans socially distanced, requiring face coverings and test fans for COVID-19 before they get into the building.

An inside view of the New York Islanders home arena

February 29, 2020- Uniondale, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo makes announcement at NY Islanders Game in Nassau Coliseum (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Whether Islanders ownership would want to go down that route if it’s available is another element to consider. During an event at Long Island Jewish Medical Center on Monday, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky told reporters that the health and safety of the players, staff and fans was the most important thing to the team.

“Coming to a game would be terrific,” Ledecky said. “That time will eventually arrive, but we are going to listen to the health authorities and the experts at each and every step.”

And the Buffalo Bills’ plan has caught some heat from state lawmakers. Sen. Sue Serino, R-Poughkeepsie, criticized the governor for prioritizing football fans over frontline workers.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also told the Democrat & Chronicle in a statement that local health officials have been kept in the dark while the state and NFL franchise created their plan.

Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+ for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Chris Lamoriello: ‘We’re Not Ruling Anything Out’ When it Comes to Josh Ho-Sang

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Josh Ho-Sang
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Could we see Josh Ho-Sang back in North America in the near future? Don’t rule it out.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers general manager and New York Islanders Islanders assistant general manager Chris Lamoriello indicated that a Ho-Sang return was on the table despite the team loaning him overseas. Ho-Sang is currently playing for Orebro HK in the Swedish Hockey League.

The Islanders announced they had loaned the talented forward to the Swedish hockey team earlier this month.

“Josh is extremely talented, very lucky early in his career to play a number of NHL games,” Lamoriello said during a Zoom call with local media. “At this point, we looked at a number of different options to put him in the best position. … We felt that with our schedule only being 24 games at the American League level, that he would get the chance to get in the lineup quicker and a greater volume of games in a shorter period of time.

“We thought this made a lot of sense. We spoke to him about it and he agreed, and this open-ended too. This isn’t something that will determine his future for this season.”

The Islanders had placed four players overseas with clubs while the NHL had worked to determine how or even if they would conduct a 2022-21 season. Ho-Sang’s situation played out differently, Lamoriello said, because those four players had citizenship in the countries that they played in.

The fact that placement for Josh Ho-Sang materialized later wasn’t out of the ordinary, Lamoriello said.

The Islanders shocked many when it was revealed that he would not be invited to training camp after he signed a 1-year, two-way contract extension this past offseason. Ho-Sang made it known to the organization that he would report to AHL Bridgeport if that’s where they wanted him.

Instead, the Islanders loaned Josh Ho-Sang to Orebro HK after he cleared waivers.

Despite the ups and downs, Lamoriello said that the communication with Ho-Sang had been “excellent.”

“That’s been ongoing, that’s been consistent,” Lamoriello said. “I feel very good about the direction in this type of transaction. Not only with us as an organization, but him as a player. I think it’s been extremely important, as you said, communication that has been had.”

And when asked to clarify about the potential for Ho-Sang to return, Lamoriello again indicated that it could be in the cards.

“We’re not ruling anything out,” Lamoriello said. “That’s why I mentioned it was open-ended. We’re just going to go game to game.”

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New York Islanders

Anthony Beauvillier Injury Could Lead to More Lineup Tinkering by Islanders

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Anthony Beauvillier

The situation with Anthony Beauvillier is fluid.

The Islanders forward was injured in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils and is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury. That’s about as detailed as head coach Barry Trotz was willing to get with the media on Monday afternoon.

The Isles are in Washington preparing for their first meeting of the year with the Capitals at Capital One Arena. It will be the first of two games that they’ll see the Caps this week and their first chance to rebound from their second shutout loss of the year.

That task will be made harder, however, when you factor in that Beauvillier may not be in the lineup on Tuesday. The Islanders have been inconsistent offensively, scoring four goals twice this young season and then being shutout in both losses they’ve suffered.

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

Now they’ll have to piece together a lineup that can help curb some of the team’s offensive struggles.

“Obviously we might have to do some gymnastics in terms of our roster,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “There’s a lot of parts of our game we do really well. … Teams are locking it down defensively. Goaltenders seem to be sharp. Yeah, we’re looking for an odd goal or two. We’re OK if we can win 1-0. Just don’t like losing 1-0.”

Anthony Beauvillier is the first injury situation that the Islanders have really had to deal with early on this season. The team had a COVID scare last week when Josh Bailey briefly appeared on the COVID protocol list, but he did not miss any games.

Trotz had already tinkered with the Islanders lineup on Sunday, playing Michael Dal Colle in place of the more offensive-minded Kieffer Bellows. Depending on Beauvillier’s status there could be more changes to the lineup, which highlights the importance for everyone to be ready.

“We have success as a group when everyone contributes,” Trotz said. “That’s our top-six. That’s our bottom-six. So when guys come into the lineup, they have to contribute. They just can’t put on the jersey and be part of the team. They’ve got to find ways to contribute. Some guys have to contribute offensively because that’s more of their skill set.

“Some guys have to do it with the physical play or the checking prowess. … Whatever you bring to the table you better bring it.”

Sunday’s appearance was Dal Colle’s first this season for the Islanders. The more seasoned forward had established himself as somewhat of a regular in the lineup, appearing 53 games last season.

Dal Colles said he felt he learned a lot from his year with the Islanders last season, not only during the regular season, but in the playoff bubble as well.

The 24-year-old was happy with the way he and his linemates played against New Jersey, albeit, he admitted they could have gotten off to a faster start. Dal Colle is also very aware of hight tight the competition is for roster spots on a day to day basis.

“Everyone knows every day you’re battling for spots,” Dal Colle said. “Everyone wants to be in the lineup. We have a tone of bodies all with NHL experience. I think we know every day we come to the rink we’re going to need to work hard and push each other. I think (Trotz) is going to put the best lineup he thinks can win. We know that and it starts in practice.”

The Islanders have a pair of more offensively minded forward in youngsters Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom. The aforementioned Wahlstrom has yet to play this season, but he could be an option with the Islanders’ scoring falling on the top-six of the lineup.

The injury to Anthony Beauvillier could make it harder to adjust that issue.

“I think what you’re finding most of our games one or the other of our top two lines are carrying the load and we’re not getting that complete contribution through the lineup right now,” Trotz said. “When we’re most successful we’re getting, one night it’s the fourth line. The next night it’s the third, but three of the four lines are contributing. Lately, we’ve just had one of the four lines that have had an effect on the game.”

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New York Islanders

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

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Ilya Sorokin makes a save on the New Jersey Devils

When the final buzzer sounded on Sunday and the New York Islanders second loss of the season was a done deal, there was a lot to not like about their game against New Jersey. One item that should not be too high on that list was the play of Ilya Sorokin.

The rookie netminder started in just his second career NHL game on Sunday in the Islanders 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils. While the effort wasn’t perfect, he did what you’d expect out of any goaltender on any given night. He gave them a chance to win.

Ilya Sorokin finished the night with 22 saves and a .917 save percentage, which was not a bad effort in only his second game in North America. It was by far a big improvement over his first start the weekend prior.

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