For the second year in a row, the New York Islanders chose to do their team building at the United States Naval Academy ice arena before the start of the NHL season. And although Head Coach Jack Capuano’s son is a newly-minted midshipman, he says he had very little to do with the decision.
“[It was] our captain and our players… once they knew we were playing Washington in the final preseason game, they wanted to do their team building and they mentioned about coming back here because we were treated so well,” Capuano says. “I know the guys are very thankful that they’ve opened this facility to us”
He adds the team not only expressed interest in skating at McMullen Ice Arena, but also wanted to have lunch with the midshipman and get a tour of the academy, which they did after a closed practice on Tuesday.
Last year, the Islanders skated at McMullen during their playoff series with the Washington Capitals. Capuano says this time around is a bit different than last year now that his son, Anthony, is a plebe.
“I just look around and I see the professionalism that lives within the environment here and I’m very proud of him,” Capuano says. “It’s a little bit different [this year] because at the same time I get to come down and not only am I at the rink being able to work with our guys but I come back later in the day and I’m able to see Anthony skate with his team and his teammates and that makes it real enjoyable.”
Around this time last year, Capuano says he had no idea that his son would get the appointment to the Naval Academy. After high school, Anthony went on to the University of Maine with a baseball scholarship before deciding that the Naval Academy was the path for him.
It had been about five years since Anthony strapped on a pair of skates, but he decided that he wanted to give it another try.
“You watch him play baseball almost his entire life and, you know, as a dad he was a fairly good baseball player,” a beaming Capuano said. “When he got here, I wanted to make sure academic-wise with how rigorous the schedule is that he wanted to do what he wanted to do. I never put any pressure on him, so when he said that he wanted to play some hockey and be around a team environment and be with the guys…just total support from me.”
After the Islanders sat down to lunch with a group of midshipman, the Naval Academy Superindendent Vice Admiral Walter E. Carter addressed the team before taking a tour of the academy.
Who knows, maybe the speech given by VADM Carter is enough to spur the Islanders past the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night for their first regular season game at Barclays Center.