While he is currently the g.m. of Phoenix, Don Maloney got to visit familiar ground when his Coyotes took on the Islanders, a team he managed from 1992 to 1995, at Nassau Coliseum.
Our own Adrian Szkolar managed to catch up with Don and got his viewpoint on a number of topics listed below:
* ON BEING BACK AT NASSAU COLISEUM:
I remember coming over from the Rangers to the Islanders at the time; I really felt it was a family atmosphere here. All in all, it was a lot of good memories. We made it to the semi-finals in the 1993 season and that was certainly a lot of fun. I have no complaints.
During my playing days with the Rangers, we played the Islanders a little bit; it was pretty ordinary at first. But that Rangers/Islanders rivalry in the late 70's and certainly the first half of the 80's was intense, and a lot of fun to play in.
* HOW RE-ALIGNMENT HAS AFFECTED PHOENIX:
It's good for us for a number of reasons. For our market, a southern market, to play Canadian teams like Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton more often in our building, we get a lot of fans who come down to see us play.
For us, it's important that we see every team in our building every year. This Islander team is a perfect example of that. John Tavares is one of the best players in the game right now, and having him come through just once every three years doesn't make sense. We want to see all those Eastern teams in our building.
* ON STEVE YZERMAN AND OTHERS COMING OUT AGAINST FIGHTING:
I'm not in that camp. I think we all agree nobody likes the stage fighting. We've eliminated bench-clearing brawls, which is a good thing. However, I still feel that it is a part of our culture as a sport. I think part of the appeal of hockey is that a fight can break out at any time.
I know from being where we are, in Arizona, a lot of our fans enjoy it. People come to the game for the entire package, and fighting is part of that package. I also think you have to look at fighting as a way for the players to police the game, so it's not completely out of the players' hands. Regardless of what I think, when 98 percent of the players polled are in favor of fighting remaining, that tells you something about the game.
* MIKE RIBIERO’S IMPACT:
He's a very important acquisition for us. He's just feeling his way through now like everybody else, but his playmaking ability, his ability to run a powerplay, is something we didn't have in Arizona since I've been here.
There's a tendency when a top playmaker comes in to defer to him all the time, give him the puck rather than just play your game. They're still in a learning pattern here, but he'll be good for us.
* ON WHAT HE’S LOOKING FOR IN THE TRADE MARKET:
We feel we're a top six forward short right now. A couple years ago, Ray Whitney did very well with Vrbata and Hanzel, and we still have yet to find a good replacement. We got others who have played there and have been fine, but we haven't found that chemistry fit, a skilled player on the left side, so that's our number one priority.
We have fairly good depth on our blue-line, but I'm wondering if we got the right chemistry back there. We lost Boyd Gordon; we'd like to find another fourth-line center, right-handed for face-offs.
Like every other team, we're a long way from being satisfied with where we are at. We still feel we have some tweaks that we need to do to make this a better team. I feel that we have good depth on both our NHL roster and in the AHL. If we feel we can make a deal, it would probably be a defenseman for a forward at some point.