2005-12-23 / Sports

York Helps Lead the Other New York

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

UNIONDALE, NY – A few years ago, Nike put up billboards around the city asking the question, “What is the difference between New York and New York?” The billboards were to poke fun at the growing rivalry between the Mets and Yankees and had witty answers geared towards one team or another depending on location.

To answer that question for hockey, former Ranger and current Islander Mike York has a unique perspective.

“The fans are great in both places and traffic is heavy in all places,” York thought after the Islanders 5-4 victory on the Colorado Avalanche. “I had some good memories playing for the Rangers and ever since I have been here [on Long Island], the guys have been great. There are so many similarities.”

The soon to be 28 year-old left wing was an up and coming star with the Blueshirts during his rookie season in 1999-00. He scored 26 goals that season, and continued solid play the next two years until general manager Glen Sather shipped the young player to Edmonton for defenseman Tom Poti. It is always tough for someone to accept their first trade and when it’s at the deadline, it’s even harder.

“That caught me off guard and because it was at the trade deadline,” York remembered. “I only had four weeks to get used to a new team. It’s a shock, one day I was in Manhattan and the next day I was in Edmonton.”

He got over it and had two good seasons with the Oilers. After playing in Germany last year on the advice of his agent, York was shipped over the summer to the Islanders along with a draft pick for Michael Peca. It was easier this time around.

York said, “When it happened the last time, it was summertime, so I had time to adjust and get a new home, plus there were so many new guys here too.”

The left wing started out slowly this season, but has come on as of late. With seven goals and 14 assists, he is helping sure up the Islanders’ second line. And according to coach Steve Stirling, becoming an integral part of the offense.

“When he got the puck he’s smart with it,” the coach praised. “And he is starting to get rewarded. He went through a stretch when he wasn’t scoring, but he got hot. It takes pressure off Yashin’s line and he does make a difference for us.”

Injuries and inconsistent play has slowed the Isles [16-13-2], but York is confident about the rest of the season.

“With injuries, you play with a lot of different guys,” York said. “But when all the guys are healthy we have a good time and when all four lines are going we feel we can beat anyone in the league.”

York is also looking to possibly partake in the Olympics this February. A member of Team USA in 2002, the Michigan native took home the silver and would like to have the chance again.

“I would be great that I did,” he said. “As I look back now, it was disappointing not to win the gold, but it was great to win a silver medal. It was great to represent my country.”

But that’s a few months away, but and right now York is just looking to get his team on track.

“We need to get on a bit of a roll,” York explained. “We can’t be satisfied being only a few games over .500. We have to play hard every night no matter whom we play against.”

And that advice holds true no matter where someone is playing.

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