Monday, October 27, 2008

Memo to Islanders: We can handle the truth

First of all, setting a team record for shots on goal in a loss doesn't mean a whole lot to me. A loss is a loss (the third in four games at home, by the way) and scoring only three times on 60 shots isn't much to be proud of. I'm sure Mike Bossy in his day could do better than that blindfolded.

Yes, the Islanders played well enough to win, but the last I looked there was no such column in the standings.

The real news, unfortunately and again, surrounds Rick DiPietro and his health (or lack thereof), with the added twist supplied by the NHL policy of injury nondisclosure, which the Islanders have taken to like tween girls to the Jonas Brothers.

What does it say that the team captain, Bill Guerin, wasn't aware of an injury when he gave his postgame interview? I find it hard to believe that during the first intermission, the players weren't aware of DiPietro -- the franchise goalie -- being hurt. And why no announcement during the game? When a player is hurt and comes out (like Witt the game before), an announcement is always made.

So Guerin, who is asked to stand before the media every night and tow the company line like a good soldier, is hung out to dry and looks out of the loop. Nice.

Was there an injury? Was Gordon using the injury as an excuse to punish DiPietro by yanking him without embarassing the player who supposedly is protected from on high by the owner who gave him a 15-year deal (a deal with which I have no problem, by the way)?

We don't know because of the NHL's policy allowing teams to reveal nothing about injuries, and the Islanders' strict following of said policy. Newsday's Greg Logan had a humorous take on the situation, but it isn't funny. If DiPietro was hurt, it should have been revealed immediately. Instead, we're left with clouds of suspicion.

Blame the league for sanctioning such shenangians and the Isles for following along in lockstep.

We can only assume that DiPietro really was hurt and Guerin was in the john or something when the coach told the team, or maybe Gordon forgot to tell the team, or ... you get the idea.

But if D.P. wasn't hurt and was pulled for once again trying to clear the puck up the middle -- something my six-year-old son's dek hockey team is implored NOT to do on a weekly basis -- or for coughing the puck up one too many times, then fine. Charlie Manuel of the Phillies was praised for benching Jimmy Rollins for not running out a ground ball and Rollins basically said, "He's right. My bad."

We'd rather have seen the same from Gordon -- again, IF DiPietro wasn't really hurt, which is only speculation, which is the rule of the day around the Islanders. (You want some mystery surrounding the new uniform? Be my guest. Forgive me for the anticipatory cringe.)

No one is above the team. Just ask Mike Singletary, who benched starting QB J.T. O'Sullivan and gave a detailed explanation as to why he ordered highly-touted tight end Vernon Davis off the field during the Niners' loss to the Seahawks. A coach like that you'd follow to the gates of hell.

It's called accountability, and the great teams have it.

What also bothers me about the Islanders and their injury policy is that it's the way the Patriots do business, and I hate the Pats and Bill Belichick. Sure, they've been successful, but in a league where all injured players are not only named but categorized (for the gamblers, of course), the Patriots are the standard-bearers for subterfuge, and it stinks.

And as far as Belichick -- a so-called defensive genius whose teams have a habit of imploding in big games -- I often wonder what his record would look like without Tom Brady, or Adam Vinatieri, or without cheating, or without Ernie Adams behind the curtain.

What can I say? I'm a Jets fan.