Lubomir Visnovsky had an idea what his reception from the fans at Nassau Coliseum for his Islanders debut might be like Saturday night. "Big win, big win!" Visnovsky said. "That's it." He was kidding around, but that little joke showed the 36-year-old defenseman is not coming to his new team with any sort of hesitation or closed-off approach. That will go a long way toward his blending into a locker room he was to have joined when the shortened season began nearly a month ago. But in January, Visnovsky declared his intention to stay in Slovakia to be close to his son, who will have an unspecified surgery in the next few days. After the KHL said Visnovsky could not stay and play for HC Slovan Bratislava, the team he joined during the lockout, he relented and finally arrived in the United States on Wednesday. He passed his physical Thursday and had his first practice with the Islanders on Friday. Visnovsky will make his debut Saturday night against the Sabres, according to two sources. The Isles' 0-for-19 power-play skid and a three-game losing streak necessitate some changes, and Visnovsky could help in both areas. "It's a great thing, I think," said Frans Nielsen, who lost his spot on the point of the first power-play unit with Visnovsky's arrival. "We've got two of the best power-play quarterbacks in the league . . . he's a great player and he's going to help us." Visnovsky said he was surprised by the warm reaction he received from his new teammates. "I talk to Garth Snow, talk to coaches, talk to teammates, and it was big surprise to me how good to me, everybody excited to like me and everybody thinking I try to help this team," Visnovsky said in English he apologized for after a brief interview. "I want to [show] everybody I'm a good player and I want to help this team . . . " As for what he honestly expects from the crowd Saturday night, Visnovsky didn't shy away from that, either. "I think [people] who know me, who understand me and who got a family, everybody do the same of what I do. For me, it's family first," he said. "I try to help my son, my family, and I stay a little bit longer at home. Thank you for this organization, they understand everything."
Sources: Lubomir Visnovsky to debut Saturday for Isles
Newsday | Feb 9