The Bethpage State Park golf course is beautiful. I’ve been there a few times for Islander events. Every time, I get lost getting there and going home. It never fails. I don’t have GPS, I have CRS instead.
The 10:45 am press conference was set up in the beautiful Lenox Room at the Carlyle on the Green. I was early -- for a change. The tents were set up for the ICF Golf Event which was to start at noon. There were bright orange Islanders golf shirts and big blue Islander duffle bags ready for those who signed up to play in the event.
This yearly golf outing has always peaked my interest, but I have never stuck around for all the festivities. First of all, I don’t play golf and have only recently started to read Mark Herrmann’s articles ABOUT golf for the simple reason that I love the way he writes. (He was there on his own, as I knew he would be.) Also, I’m not in the financial class to participate in the silent auction or dinner.
I did peek into the room where the silent auction was set up. Some of the items they had up for auction made me drool. I quickly walked away from the door as to not get myself too upset. Head coach Jack Capuano stopped to say hello to me as he walked in. He looks fit as every and is almost half the man he was when he first began coaching the Isles. He worked hard to take the weight off, he is working hard maintaining it and being healthy. Lead by example, right?
Tim Beach’s silky voice echoed in the empty room as he stood at the podium testing the equipment. Professional photographers from the various agencies tested their cameras on the backdrop looking for the best angles. I had my seven-year-old Canon that I still can’t get good photos out of, but it fits in my pocket. With ITV running a live web stream of the event I decided I really didn’t have to try to use my recorder. I could just sit and enjoy it.
The room began to fill up and Jesse D. Eisenberg began to usher in the players to the front rows. I was in the third row and mouthed to Jesse if I should move. He motioned ’No’ and so I stayed put -- as Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Josh Bailey sat down in the row with me. I watched Matt Moulson grab a chair from the other room so he could be up front and listened to the good natured joking that was flying around the group.
“It looks like a wedding.” Josh said. He was right, and as most weddings, it seemed to be running late. I had a few minutes to talk to Josh, but it was all off the record and just small talk. I will say he didn’t think his golf game has improved since last year.
There was no fanfare as Garth, Jack and JT walked down the aisle to the podium and took their seats. Garth introduced the newest Captain of the NY Islanders who then gave a heartfelt and grateful speech to the crowd. His smile was genuine and controlled and showed no sign of having lost three teeth recently.
Four professional years with the NY Islanders has changed John Tavares from the kid with mad skills, into a man making a name for himself as one of the NHL’s best. So much has changed in the last four years. Much like living with a billet family, John would go to Ice Works with his landlord Doug Weight and sit in the bleachers with his hoodie pulled up over his ears watching the kids play. He wasn’t more than a kid himself.
Now, at 22-years-old he is leading an NHL team. Is he ready? Denis Potvin said usually handing the captaincy to a 22-year-old was a bad idea, but not in John Tavares’ case. He is ready to lead. He has been for awhile.
Listen to his speech. It’s brief, but he thanked many people including Mark Streit and Doug Weight. I was a little surprised that I didn’t hear him thank his parents, who were watching the live feed. They must be very, very proud of him, as we all are in Islanders Country.
Charles Wang sat in the front row on the right side of the room. He didn’t speak to the crowd, but was more than happy to entertain conversation with the attendees and sponsors and even Art Staple of Newsday. http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/charles-wang-is-happy-with-islanders-and-move-to-barclays-center-1.6041734?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
I didn’t stick around to try to talk to John. I knew that Greg Picker and the ITV team would have all the coverage I would need on line later. I had already exhausted my lunch hour -- and a half. Walking out into the sunlight, I was so jealous that those attending had such a beautiful day to be out on the course. I bumped into Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Aaron Ness who had just arrived. They stopped to get their bearings and Ness recognized me and said hello. They had just come from the coliseum and another day of camp, but they were ready to spend the rest of the day on the course.
I spent the next ten minutes trying to find my car.