(Ed. Note: Welcome to the Puck Daddy 2013 summer project, the National Hockey League of Nations. We’ve recruited 30 writers/blogs to identify the best player in their favorite team’s history for each major nationality that creates the fabric of our beloved NHL: Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and The Rest of The World. It’s their criteria, as long as they can justify it. Read, debate and enjoy! If you want to do so on Twitter, it's #NHLoN.)
By B.D. Gallof, Editor in Chief of HOCK.ly
So I am just sitting here drinking on vacation when I get a call on the "blog phone" that the NY Islanders League of Nations is up next.
So here are a few photoshop-free musing on an Islanders League of Nations that can be bitched about in the comment section for an hour or two...
No, it's not John Tavares, and if he is on your top 2, you should just stop reading now and stick to what you might do well.... Coloring.
This is a two player debate that has nothing to do with any kid who has not led his team to a cup. This is about two NHL legends: Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy. Trottier is the complete player, leader and working class hero. But to me, there is no better prolific scorer than Mike Bossy. It was a level unto itself, only put to what-if due to injury.
Thus the choice is to be like Mike Bossy, eh?
This one is easy. There can be only one. The "Flying Finn" Mikko Makela helped pave the way for future Finnish players like Teemu Selanne. He scored goals and accrued points. But his career was timed with the Isles decline in the late 80s and was eventually shuffled off to LA. For many, with Bossy retired, the Finn was a last vestige at the hope of having a sniper again and growing a talent. Alas.
The NY Islanders might try to pretend he doesn't exist since his departure after the fiasco that went on between Neil Smith and Charles Wang, but not only does Pat LaFontaine exist, but he is the best US born player of the NY Islanders hands down. Despite a career cut short by concussions, he is a hall of famer that the Islanders should be ashamed of their attempt to remove his influence and importance to the franchise.
Of course, we are STILL waiting for good old Pat to buy and rescue the Isles.
Isles have had a few gems here (Kenny Jonsson, anyone? Stefan Persson, anyone?), but thanks to it being his birthplace before heading to Canada at the age of four, there is an under-the-radar shoo-in here....
Bobby Nystrom was actually born in Stockholm Sweden.
Need we say more?
The guy was clutch, tenacious, scrappy, all heart, and left it all on the ice.
Sorry, nobody else comes even close.
Ahh, Russia, comes the complex relationships that leave the heart feeling a bit less fonder. This is a tough call but there are not a lot of prolific Russians as part of the Isles tapestry so let us wade into the mixed bag of emotions that will come as part of this...
Alexei Yashin was a good player who had an elite contract that he would never live up to it, or the responsibility it brings. Period. But as Russian players go on the Isles, he stands as one of the more prolific, like it or not.
So there you go. Painless... Like a root canal.
Nothing hit the downtrodden NY Islander fan hearts harder than when the miscreant ownership forced Mike Milbury to attempt to move Zigmund Palffy to the dreaded NY Ranger rivals. Luckily for fans, it hit a snag and he was dealt to LA. But the pain never went away until perhaps when the Isles drafted Tavares.
Yes, Chara was a Slovak also, but he was only developing when he was dealt. Ziggy was more and was all that was left.... And then he was dealt away, leaving Isles fans with nothing else.
Here is where underrated and just being steady wins the race. Radek Martinek spent his career being a steady, but not incredible defender to leader a bunch of ok, but not stellar Czech players.
Robert Reichel scored a bunch but only for two seasons for the Isles. Volek scored one important one...and actually was far more important in seasons, so moves past Reichel.
But in the scheme of things, seems to me that slow and steady wins this race. Radek was an important piece as the Isles rebuilt, even if what is there now is not quite the same.
Obviously, I am not exactly enthused about this bunch, but fact is, Radek's importance and defensive skill-set before injuries decimated him cannot be denied.
REST OF THE WORLD CATEGORY
Sorry folks, Darius Kasparitus, the most overrated over-hyped Isles player who really didn't do much of anything, won't be on this list.
Lets instead list out two notables that equate in a tie in this category....
Steve Thomas: born in England, "Stumpy" had 4 key and great seasons for the Isles in the 90s. Plus, more importantly, despite having played hockey, had better teeth.
Mariusz Czerkawski: born in Poland. Wasn't the most complete player, but by god, was all we had during some horrific days. Offensively, the "Polish Prince" was our king.
Read, debate and enjoy! If you want to do so on Twitter, it's #NHLoN