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The Gremlin: Michael Grabner. (Nickname courtesy Andrew MacDonald, for obvious reasons.) Tweetmaster extraordinaire (@grabs40), Austrian, father, speedster, tattoo enthusiast. Nicknamed the Gremlin for fairly obvious reasons, face-wise. Grabs may or may not be raising his adorable son Aidan with both his wife Heather and his pal Philipp. If so, they are the cutest little complex family ever. (Philipp maybe also filmed this adorable video? Look at the baby Gremlin!!)

Grabs was drafted by Vancouver in 2006 but spent almost his entire career there with their AHL affiliate, minus 20 games in 09-10. Following that season, the Canucks traded Grabs to the Panthers, who placed him on waivers after a shitty training camp, and the Islanders snapped him up! :D How we love waivers. Hence 10-11 was his rookie season and he was nominated for the Calder. :333 He's very fast, which is an important part of our game, but until very recently has not been tough enough, which is also an important part of our game. We love him anyway, though, and there seems to be improvement!

Btw, Grabs was considered an American skater at the draft because he played his juniors in the WHL, for the Spokane Chiefs, and is still super close with his billet family and brought them with him when he went to Vegas for the NHL awards. I am charmed.

This is cute. (x)

Grabs also has been responsible for running Johnny's NHL Cover Vote campaigns in the past (since John himself is absolutely crap at that sort of thing, bless, and also was in Finland repping Canada at the Worlds during the first one). He is fascinatingly aggressive about this, and it required its own post. There's bad photoshop, videos where Grabs works out while staring intensely at a picture of Johnny, and a few people on the toilet. Including the little Gremlin:
Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 8.17.09 PM

Apart from his speed, the most amazing thing about Michael Grabner is his twitter. Through which he is conducting quite the intense little relationship with fourth-liner Colin McDonald:

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 10.32.24 PM
Note that Grabs actually tagged Colin on the picture of his abs.

Further reading/viewing:
Isleography: Michael Grabner
Islanders Round Table - Twitter
Michael Grabner's Nature Adventure - AMAZING! Also yaaay Jones Beach!
Road to the Coliseum: Michael Grabner

CMac!! Diesel! Colin McDonald, number 13, fourth line stalwart and playoff hero! I've recently begun to find him reasonably hunky, which is main cos I realized that he is 28 and not 22 and thus doesn't actually look oddly old. I thought Colin was around 22 because he just got called up from the Islanders' AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but it turns out he'd been in the AHL for 5 years, bouncing around the Oilers and Penguins organizations after completing 4 years of college hockey!

Another quintessential Islanders second-chance story, and now he's signed a 2-year contract extension for $600,000 and he's so friggin pumped to actually be in the NHL. <33 His dad played 8 games in the NHL back when, so now the whole family is super proud of Colin, being in the playoffs and kicking ass, as you can learn in this delightful article. To go from being a second-round draft pick to not being able to break into the NHL for half a decade and still maintain a great attitude and work ethic like Colin has is really amazing.

MSG sent a crew to Hartford, CT to meet Chiquita the Chihuahua and the rest of the McDonald family for an upcoming feature on forward Colin McDonlad.Look for the biography piece to air during an upcoming Islanders pregame show.
Obviously my plan is to post pictures of Islanders with puppies until you love them all.

He plays on the fourth line with Casey Cizikas (Zeeker) and Matt Martin, after playing with Zeeker in Bridgeport. They're not fighters, although they will drop the gloves if necessary, but they're definitely the type of guys that other teams say are not fun to play against. Marty is perpetually the league leader in hits, and Colin was tied for 21 with Alex Ovechkin. Despite the closeness of our fourth liners, when Colin was asked which teammate has had the most influence over his career, he said John Tavares.

Which is utterly delightful and also, um, particularly interesting because this year he took up the mantle of "John Tavares NHL Cover Vote Manager" with possibly the most fascinating video any NHL team has ever produced:

Now, the thing about this video. The thing is. The rest of the team had been joking on twitter about Colin being Johnny's pet FOR MONTHS BEFORE THIS HAPPENED.

Screen shot 2013-09-18 at 12.16.10 AM

And recently Johnny posted a picture of Colin WEARING JT91 BRANDED GEAR.
And got told to make sure Colin goes to sleep (Sean Backman is Matt Moulson's wife's brother - his bro-in-law that isn't Jonathan Quick) and when Colin bugged Johnny about not including his twitter handle, Johnny said he needed to "earn it." OKAY.

SO. This video is. A documentary??? I figure Colin was thinking the joke was that Johnny would kick him out, and apart from that he was just sharing his life with us.

There is also a behind the scenes vine that I feel compelled to link to. Given how accurate the video apparently is, some of the stuff on that wall is probably JT's actual interior decorating, isn't it? Does Johnny have a giant Islanders game calender poster on his closet wall, these are important questions.

Further reading/viewing:
Making a Change
Know Your Bro with Brock Nelson 1, 2, 3 - Brock is one of our top prospects and I wanted to include him but had to make an executive decision in favor of my mental wellbeing.

Matt Martin is the one on the right. Islanders picked him #148th at the 2008 draft. He started playing regularly in the NHL in the 10-11 season and has consistently been the league's leader in hits since. Matt fights as much as anyone on our team, but it's not so much his thing as for some guys - he's really about the big hits more than fisticuffs. (Although he can be quite effective - and reasonably classy - at it should the need arise.) Islanders fans love him for his attitude and putting his body on the line, and he's won the Bob Nystrom Award (named after the legendary Mr. Islander) the past two years in a row - only the second ever to do so! His '12 and '13 victories follow Frans Niesel in '11 and Kyle Okposo in '10. :)))

I don't know which of his loved ones the NYI PR department was holding hostage, but Matt Martin was everywhere this summer. He covered the VMAs for Barclay's Center TV with Alyonka Larionov. He showed up in random stores, he signed shit, he posed for pictures, he made videos of him trying on suits, and he did a horrifically, painfully awkward and contrived "LOOK HOW EASY THE TRAIN IS" video with my nemesis Greg Picker.

But if anyone was going to suddenly be all over my life, it might as well be Matt Martin, because he seems like a total friggin sweetheart. I am weak for a hockey lisp, basically. Also - handsome.

Since this article about Matt popped up while I was working on this, I'll quote it: "Along with frequent linemates Casey Cizikas and Colin McDonald, Martin exemplifies the approach the Islanders bring every night—work hard, create opportunities and never relent." We loooooooove our fourth line on the Island. Almost as much as they love each other. Matt is a prolific chirper on twitter, especially of his teammates:
Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 11.57.23 PM

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 11.59.21 PM
Matt and Hammer overlapped on the Sound Tigers and basically started their NHL careers in earnest in the 10-11 season, so there's a lot of love there. <3 They also were roommates on the road as of the 11-12 season! Matt also roomed with Johnny in 10-11, which is a pretty great combo.

And he is friends with Kaylyn Kyle of the Canadian women's soccer NT! Which leads to fabulous exchanges such as:

Further reading/viewing:
Martin Remembers Draft Day - featuring Steven Stamkos, his Sarnia Sting teammate! This is so cute.
Show Stoppers: Matt Martin
On the Spot: Matt Martin - long, but really good, with some Stammer talk!
Go With the Flow - about hockey hair, also featuring Flow Champion Matt Moulson

Casey Cizikas signing Matt Martin's jersey, to which Matt gave the following response:

As far as I can tell, Zeeker and Matt are two of only a handful of players that can be shipped more easily with each other than with Johnny. (Although still totally shippable with Johnny.) Also likely in a threesome with Colin. Who is sleeping at the foot of Johnny's bed and flirting heavily with Grabs. So. Make of that what you will. (Orgy is really the simplest explanation for this team, isn't it?)

Zeeker is, like the rest of his line, a tough, physical grinder that we depend on to change the energy of a game. But he's only 5'11" officially, so god knows how tall he actually is. Definitely a wee nugget, especially for a physical player. Zeeker is currently the only player with a regular roster spot who's younger than Johnny. But for fuck's sake we seriously have a couple guys to promote! (Ugh our prospects are delightful and I wanted to go into them too, but this got monstrously long so I restrained myself. But we're very proud of how deep our prospect pool is, and how young our best players are!)

Zeeker looks quite different when his helmet is covering his blond locks so it took me a while to realize how attractive he is, so now I'm all like "wow, just look at that seductive little puss."

He also might be my favorite player based solely on his love of Space Jam, which he has tweeted about on multiple occasions.

Most of what I know about Zeeker is that I am shipping him SO HARD with Matt Martin. They did a twitter video Q&A together and it was so incredibly adorable. (Also great: the way their shirts fit.)

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 8.51.27 PM

They admit they're dating, they're adorable, they're visually appealing (height differences!!), they look out for each other on the ice... all I can do is make kitten noises at them.

Further reading/viewing:
Casey Cizikas mic'd up rookie camp
Cizikas taking advantage of opportunity
Seizing the moment

The Islanders organization, to be honest, is not great at providing fluff pieces. Or any sort of quality media coverage. One good thing about the move to Barclay's Center is that their media department have already taken us under their wing a bit (I think Alyonka misses hockey). A lot of these guys appear in the following video from BCTV, describing flow and beauties and chirps, and giving a lot of examples of the latter:

Dammit I would love to get into our beloved, hilarious goalie Evgeni Nabokov and his partner in crime, broadcaster Stan Fischler, but I should probably restrain myself a bit. I'll just say that while we get frustrated with Nabby when he lets in a buttload of playoff goals, he's a super important part of the team and all the guys say he's the funniest guy in the locker room. Stan Fischler is 81 years old and has loved hockey forever and is called the Maven cos he knows everything, and has a thick Brooklyn accent and makes me unbearably happy. And they're the absolute best pals.

For more Islanders material, I highly recommend Skates on a Plane, the blog of our PR guy. I actually think it's a pretty fantastic read for any hockey fan - it gives a lot of insight into the practicalities of the NHL, meal and travel arrangements, what sort of events they go to, how they deal with the media, in addition to stories about the players and their antics (including a bunch about bunny-owner Zenon Konopka from back when he was an Islander).

Another good source of Islanders stuff is IslesEmpire, pretty much my favorite tumblr. They do a great job covering the Isles really thoroughly, so it's also a good place to go to just sift through their tags for people you're interested in. :)

A guide I made to most of the players featured. Numbers of games played are in parentheses, if there isn't one then you can assume they played most of the season. LO means lockout.

I made a twitter highlights post... and then I made three more:
Matt/Johnny post
John Tavares NHL13 Cover Campaign
Additional Player Highlights

Player twitter handles, per Isles Empire:
John Tavares: @91Tavares
Matt Moulson: @MMoulson
Michael Grabner: @grabs40
Kyle Okposo: @bookerT2116
Colin McDonald: @ColinMcDonald13
Matt Martin: @mattymarts17
Casey Cizikas: @zeeker11
Thomas Hickey: @thomas_hickey14
Pierre-Marc Bouchard: @PMBouchard

Date: 2013-09-25 04:53 am (UTC)
isweedan: White jittering text "art is the weapon" on red field (Art is the Weapon. Bandom. MCR. Fabulous)
From: [personal profile] isweedan
I was brought MUCH ENTERTAINMENT by this primer! :D

(And could now TOTES name non-JT Isles players \o/)

Date: 2013-09-25 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Huzzah!! Thanks for checking it out, I'm glad I was able to educate and entertain. ;) Now I feel like Bill Nye!!

Date: 2013-09-25 05:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is the best primer I've read in a loooong time, and as a result, I'm now in love with everyone. I was already predisposed to like the Isles because they're coming to Brooklyn and because of JT and Matt Moulson, but I am now utterly charmed by the love that all the guys have for the team and each other.

Also, Travis Hamonic may be my new favorite human being.

Thank you so so much for all your work on this and sharing it!

Date: 2013-09-25 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Awwww, yay!!! :DD I have kind of mixed feelings about the move to Brooklyn, but hopefully it'll be good for the team, and I'm feeling more optimistic about it after their little preseason excursions.

Fandom is so tragically underappreciative of Johnny and Matt!! I mean, I know Matt's not the best looking guy in the league, bless, but they just have such an amazing relationship and dynamic, and so much love!!

Awww Hammer - him and Zeeker and Matt Martin are the players that I probably gained the most love for during this process, he seems like such a sweetie and they're always talking about his leadership. And the guys say he can't handle being chirped, he gets huffy and stays mad at you for a little while, which makes me feel a bit less like "OH GOD I COULD NEVER SURVIVE A LOCKER ROOM" cos i totally get huffy sometimes. XD

Date: 2013-09-25 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They are SO CUTE :D And a very good young team. If they weren't in the same division as the Pens I'd probably root for them *g* (Or the Jackets. Best division.) Also because Grabner is one of two Austrians in the NHL (yes, I too would like to see a Grabner-Vanek-Moulson line at Worlds ^^) Aww, their twitter conversations are hilarious. I'm looking forward to watching all the linked vids and articles.

Date: 2013-09-25 06:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh god, the Pens are my other favorite team, and how I wish they weren't in the same division! The playoffs last year almost tore my brain in two. And also my heart!

Grabs is so great!! We love him so much - both the fans and everyone in the organization. :D

Haha I'm so excited that someone is willing to actually explore the links! Occasionally i just stuck something in cos I was like "I need to prove that this is real and not something I made up" but usually I only tried to link to articles if they were cute/interesting!

Date: 2013-09-26 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is incredibly delightful. Everything is just so cute, and shippy.

Date: 2013-09-26 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aren't they just adorable?? :)) Thanks for checking it out!

Date: 2013-09-26 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fantastic primer! I wanted to read more; every time you restrained yourself I thought "oh shucks." I had no idea they were such a scrappy, cute group. And yeah, it looks like the real pairing is not a pairing at all, more like Islanders/Islanders. :D Thanks for writing this up!

Date: 2013-09-26 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Awwww, thanks so much!! Haha that's so nice to hear! I was partly afraid that it was already too overwhelmingly long for people to want to read as it is, and I was partly exhausted. XD I feel bad about everyone i left out, though! (Although most of the other defensemen I just left out cos I barely know anything about them. D-men get so little attention, don't they?)

Islanders/Islanders is the BEST ship. :D

Date: 2013-09-28 08:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am SO GLAD you wrote this, you have no idea. I was beginning to worry that I was going to have to write one myself, and wouldn't that be frustrating, seeing as I've only been watching hockey since January and know next to nothing about the Isles despite them being my favorite team. Because this organization makes it next to impossible to find out anything about the players. *shakes fist* All I want to do is love them more, Islanders! Is that so bad?! (We really, really need better media exposure, so here's hoping Barclays turns that dial to 11. I want a million doofy little videos about nothing, like the Blackhawks have, because that's actually how/why I started watching hockey in the first place.)

G. Picker is mine enemy as well, and one of the reasons I don't bother watching most of the videos IslesTV does put out (the other reason being that they're mostly game-day interviews anyway, which are boring. Give me some material, IslesTV! Help me help you in spreading my love for this team!) I can't tell if my dislike is because I'm jealous of his job (and I definitely am), or if he really is that annoying.

Also also, I run Isles Empire, and I'm SUPER pleased that you enjoy it. I created it because (as you know) the Isles have virtually no web presence, especially in the tumblr hockey fandom, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to establish at least one blog dedicated to the team. We'll need it to infect others with our love.

Okay! This essay's almost over, sorry it's so long. Anyway, looooved your primer, and your twitter recaps, and I'm going to spend more time on all the links in them. If this primer were a million times longer, I would read every word! ♥

Date: 2013-09-28 03:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahhh, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I had been thinking about writing one for a bit but I also was worried that I wouldn't know enough, and that older fans would be like "whoooa it's totally not like that at all", cos I also only got into hockey after the lockout! But it turns out that reading through almost every single thing any of them have ever tweeted (except Grabs, I only got back about a year before I lost the will to live) gives you a lot of information! XD If I'd written the blurbs at the beginning of the process, they would have been totally different, and I actually did have to go in and edit them a bunch as I progressed and found more articles and stuff!

Oh god, why are they SO BAD at fluff pieces and promotion??? They have such a delightful group of guys! It did make doing this kind of rewarding because every time I found a linkable video or article it was like discovering buried treasure, but... Ugh, I get so, so jealous of the other teams. Especially the Blackhawks, their PR team is so good!! I have to laugh at how goofy some of the Islanders stuff is in comparison. Totally share your hopes about Barclays. If we get nothing else from that move, may it lead to better fluff pieces. And the Nets have a whole TV deal with... YES, right? Ugh, as a Mets fan that makes me feel dirty, but maybe we won't just be the ugly stepchildren of MSG.

Thank you SO MUCH for Isles Empire!! It's so, so nice to have someone who's thorough in collecting Islanders stuff (and who tags! Why do the fuckyeah blogs not tag???) because I would have missed so much of that. And the right pace, so I get lots of Islanders stuff on my timeline but it's not flooded all of a sudden. I'm so glad it exists and I used it SO much in making this!

And your twitter bitterness about Picker gives me life. XDD I think he really is that annoying. Or at least, his voice is!! The stuff he says is fine, not great but not terrible, and he seems fairly pleasant, but his weird little drone, gah!!! We should just get Stan Fischler to do everything. :DDD

No need to apologize for the long comment!! :D It's great to talk to another enthusiast - and someone who understands the struggles of being an Islanders fan! I hope you're able to maybe use the primer or some of the resources in it to lure in fans of other hockey teams. ;) Of course, it can only really be used with people who are slash-friendly, but... it's not my fault they flirst with each other so much!

Date: 2013-09-28 10:03 pm (UTC)
healingmirth: empty hockey net (hockey)
From: [personal profile] healingmirth
Lordy, that is a lot of things you have collected here. Thank you!

(OMG, that train video. "Please don't abandon us when we move to Brooklyn! It's really quite a reasonable trip!"

I had no idea who Matt Martin was until that VMA ridiculousness, and, well, I still don't know, but at least he's pretty)

Date: 2013-09-30 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
and every single interview or tweet while they were practicing at Barclay's mentioned how easy the train trip is. XDD Subtle, they are not.

"Pretty, loves his bros, lays big hits" seems to sum up Matt pretty well. Delightful and straightforward!

Date: 2013-10-02 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] must be said, your team really does seem to make an effort to ship everyone with everyone. That is solid work there.

Date: 2013-10-03 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
:)))) don't they?? I'm finding myself obsessed with a new combo basically from day to day. So much love going around!
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