The Islanders had a long wait for the moment yesterday when a 5-foot-10 Slovakian put on a defenseman’s blue practice sweater, a helmet with the number 11 on the back, and skated with the NHL team to which he is under contract.
Lubomir Visnovsky also had many obstacles to get to this point — some of his own creation — yet there he was, on the ice at the Islanders’ practice facility in Syosset, doing his best to learn everyone’s name, so he doesn’t have to call his teammates “buddy” when he takes the Coliseum ice for tonight’s game against the Sabres.
“I was surprised, all the teammates were good to me,” Visnovsky said. “Everybody was excited to [greet] me and everybody is thinking I can help this team and I want to show that [tonight]. It’s a big game and I’m ready.”
Visnovsky spent the offseason, including the lockout, playing in the Russia-based KHL, for the team based in his native Slovakia. Per the agreement with the NHL, once the lockout ended, Visnovsky could no longer play overseas, yet he stayed home anyway because, he said, his son was in need of medical assistance and will have surgery soon.
The Islanders suspended Visnovsky until he showed up Thursday morning and passed his physical. Now with one practice under his belt, he is preparing to join the lineup.
Visnovsky joins Isles at long last
New York Post | Feb 9