Islanders Leadership Guides Team Through Adversity

Islanders Insight's picture

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 29:  The New York Islanders celebrate their 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 29, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Recent struggles have tested the Islanders resiliency, as the offense struggled to score despite generating opportunities, the power play was disastrous, and yet, surprisingly enough, the penalty kill remained quite strong.

Although the team was able to break the home losing streak with a come from behind victory against the Detroit Red Wings this past Sunday afternoon, the Islanders most recent stretch has been a somewhat surreal adventure. Despite putting forth strong efforts, the Islanders were unable to earn victories during one of the more critical stretches of the season.

The leadership inside the Islanders locker room, nevertheless, remained steadfast, doing all it can to generate and|or maintain team chemistry during some major turbulence.

“I think it [leadership] is real important because there are teams that crumble and dissolve when adversity sets in,” head coach Jack Capuano said following the team’s most recent practice. “During that stretch it brought our guys closer, brought us together…Our leadership and accountability amongst the guys has been key this year.”

And it’s the Islanders ability in maintaining emotional equilibrium inside their locker room, be it after a tough loss or a resounding victory, that’s led to so much success this season.

“You limit those [poor] stretches when you keep a level head and stay positive,” Josh Bailey told Islanders Insight. “We try to keep that inner confidence in ourselves and it’s been good all season long.”

That inner confidence stems from a coaching staff with a knack for corralling young hopefuls and veterans alike. It’s not always easy for newcomers to break into an NHL locker room but seasoned veterans such as Cal Clutterbuck know they need to make the transition as easy as possible, especially for rookies.

“I think the most important thing with so many young guys is you try to give them enough freedom to be themselves, so that they could feel as comfortable as possible,” Clutterbuck said. “I think that translates to their play.”

Anders Lee is one such young player, whose ‘freedom’ translated into an offensive force this season. He, alongside Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson, played a huge part in the most recent comeback against Detroit to snap a seven game losing streak at Nassau Coliseum.

skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 29, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Red Wings 5-4.

skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 29, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Red Wings 5-4.

“What is nice about this team is that the young guys can talk to anybody,” Lee explained. “There are a lot of guys in here that have been around and they all have their own specialties. Ask one guy and ask another guy something else. Learn from them.”

There’s no denying that team interaction, keeping avenues of communication open and honest, have done wonders to solidify this talented locker room. Having bonds to which players may rely upon on any given night is one key ingredient necessary for this squad to overcome and understand adversity.

“Coaches stress communication all the time,” Brock Nelson said. “It’s nice to be able to have that with any guy on the team. It’s a big part of being successful and winning games.”

While the Islanders have a designated captain (John Tavares) and two specific alternate captains (Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen), leadership responsibilities don’t rest upon their shoulders. Johnny Boychuk, Cal Clutterbuck and Travis Hamonic are some of the players who took on more responsibilities as the season progressed.

The open communication between established veteran personalities and talented youth has allowed young players to flourish on the ice, while inspiring them to take on leadership roles, as well.

“Even the young guys who maybe haven’t been around lead by example with how hard they work and the things they do on the ice,” Nelson continued. “Maybe a little bit more quietly. I think that is a good sign for us to have a good mixture of guys who can lead in different ways.”

The post Islanders Leadership Guides Team Through Adversity appeared first on Islanders Insight.