By Nick Colombo
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In a season where misery is in high supply, the news Wednesday that Kevin Poulin will miss the rest of the season with a dislocated knee cap is the most miserable news of all.
I’ve grown used to the losing, the failed coaches, the dismal financial news, and the dilapidated arena. But the one thing Islanders fans have had over the last few years is the enjoyment of watching promising young players. It’s the one sliver of hope, the one source of pride, for an otherwise depressed Islanders nation. Now, with Poulin out for the remainder of the season, fans can’t even say that.
Sure, I understand that Kyle Okposo and John Tavares will still be out there every game giving it their all and getting us excited for what one day could be. But there’s a reason why months ago I advocated keeping Poulin in the NHL for the rest of the season. At the time, I said watching a talented young goaltender get NHL experience would not only be exciting for the fans but helpful for Poulin’s development. But there’s more to it than that.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly is familiar with my distaste for Rick DiPietro. A goaltender that recently, through one singular incident, was able to demonstrate the 3 reasons I dislike him. He opened his mouth when he shouldn’t have, got too far away from the net and too involved in a play when he shouldn’t have, and then he got injured. That one incident sums up all that is wrong with DP.
Rick is not the answer. Which means going forward the Islanders are going to need a really good goaltender. Every competitive team in the league has one. If the Nabokov situation taught us anything, it’s that finding a quality goaltender outside the team is going to be difficult. Furthermore, Nabokov would’ve only been a short term solution. Finding a long term one outside the team is even more impossible.
More than any other position, the Islanders need to develop a goalie from within. Yes, I understand the Islanders also need offense, but there’s a lot more competitive scorers out there you can overpay to improve the team than there are goalies. A quality goalie is something the Islanders are going to have to develop. In my mind Poulin could’ve been that guy. Now, don’t get me wrong. Down the line Poulin still could be the guy. But he’s not going to grow anymore this season rehabbing an injury. It will be at least another year before we know if he can be the Islanders future, and that means at least another year until the Islanders can have a goaltending future worth looking forward to.
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