New York Islanders Daily Insight, 5/29/17: Strong Island
May 5, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) celebrates with teammates defenseman Anthony Bitetto (left), center Ryan Johansen (middle), and defenseman Shea Weber (right) after defeating the San Jose Sharks in game four of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders planted the seeds for Long Island to become “a burgeoning hockey hotbed,” as Daniel J. Friedman wrote.

In early December, Sports Illustrated’s Daniel J. Friedman explored how Long Island has grown into a hotbed for hockey.

Wrote Friedman, “But along the northeastern coast, there is another locale that has entered the conversation, a 1,400 square mile slab of land surrounded by water on four sides, populated by nearly eight million and situated just across the East River from a major urban center. That would be Long Island, New York–the home of Bagel Boss, Billy Joel and, as has become increasingly clear, hockey.”

What has this amounted to? While we’re not going to summarize the entire article, Friedman cites a number of players — specifically, the Maple Leafs’ Jeremy Bracco and Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy — as evidence of this shift.

Here’s another name to consider, especially as his team begins the last leg of the NHL season, the Stanley Cup, on Monday night: Anthony Bitetto.

While the Island Park native will almost certainly be a scratch during the series’ first game, it’s a cool story, nonetheless. And he hasn’t forgotten his roots.

“This is my dream and I know how fortunate I am to have this many people who support me,” Bitetto told Newsday’s Barbara Baker. “I really do feel like the whole town of Island Park is behind me. If we win this Cup, hopefully I’m going to bring it back there.”

Hopefully that will inspire Long Islanders just him to give their NHL dreams a shot.


Ray Pfeifer, the beloved firefighter who lost his battle with terminal cancer on Sunday, described getting honored by the Islanders last April as a “dream come true.” Renowned for his work at the scene of the fatal attacks and for his advocacy for his fellow first responders, Pfeifer was the face of the NYFD following 9/11.

The Windsor Spitfires defeated the Erie Otters, 4-3, to notch the Memorial Cup on Sunday. Josh Bailey, the former ninth overall pick who spent two seasons with Windsor, was in attendance. Joshua Ho-Sang, another alum, was not.

It’s the first game of the 2017 Stanley Cup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. These two teams made a trade — James Neal for Patric Hornqvist — on June 27, 2014 that forever altered their trajectories. It should be an exciting, hard-fought series.

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.