Sal LoCascio had a message for the Bruins on Tuesday morning: “Hey, Coach Cassidy, it sounds like you’re having nightmares about Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin!”
Then he laughed.
It had been an interesting 12 hours for LoCascio. First, he thoroughly enjoyed watching the Islanders defeat Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins, 5-4, on Monday night in Game 5 of the teams’ second-round playoff series.
Then he awoke to his phone “blowing up” with messages about Cassidy having referred to the Islanders as “the New York Saints” after the game, accusing them of creating a false narrative that they play cleanly and are above reproach.
Cassidy presumably was unaware there used to be a lacrosse team that went by that name and played at Nassau Coliseum. But LoCascio knew, because he starred in goal for the team for the majority of its National Lacrosse League run from 1989 to 2003.
He was a five-time NLL All-Star, was an All-American at the University of Massachusetts and is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Now, the Saints have become an unlikely storyline for Game 6. “I absolutely love it,” LoCascio said.
So much so that he plans to attend his first playoff game of the season on Wednesday night and to do so wearing one of his Saints jerseys — even if it requires breaking into an old picture frame to get to it.
(Memo to the Islanders’ video board operator: Fans might enjoy that sight during a TV timeout.)
LoCascio is confident he will witness a victory. “Oh, there’s no doubt,” he said. “When they come back to the Old Barn, they’re closing it out.”
Part of that belief is grounded in Cassidy’s remarks, which stemmed from the coach’s ire at the officiating — the Islanders scored three power-play goals — and earned him a $25,000 fine from the NHL on Tuesday.
Then the league fined the Bruins’ Nick Ritchie $5,000 for an uncalled elbow infraction against Scott Mayfield, further undermining Cassidy’s argument.
Barry Trotz refused to be dragged into a conversation with reporters about any of that on Tuesday.
Asked what Cassidy might have been thinking, he said, “I can’t tell you what’s going on there. You’ll have to ask Bruce. I don’t really have any comments on that at all, sorry.”
What about the added drama and/or emotion this sort of byplay can create? “I don’t have any tension at all, and I don’t have any emotion to those things,” Trotz said.
What about working the officials? “I don’t work them; I respect them,” Trotz said.
Truth is, Trotz was doing his job when he accused Bruins center Patrice Bergeron of cheating on faceoffs, and Cassidy was doing his job when he complained about, well, everything after Game 5.
“Look, as an athlete, I get what he’s doing,” LoCascio said. “You try to get every edge you possibly can. But here’s the truth: They can’t handle Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck hammering their guys on every possible play . . . The backbone the Islanders have is special, and as the series is wearing on, you can see it.”
He wasn’t through. “Cassidy’s comments, you know what that told me as an athlete? That there’s doubt in that locker room.”
LoCascio, 54, who lives in Bayport, still is involved in lacrosse. He works with the Team 91 travel program, and his son Gavin has committed to play at UMass. LoCascio’s day job is as a regional business director for Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals.
The Cassidy incident was fodder for fans and journalists, but LoCascio considered it a bonus that it gave publicity to his old team and his lifelong sport.
Now there is a new lacrosse team based at the Coliseum. Might Cassidy want to check it out later this year?
“If he wants season tickets,” LoCascio said, “let him know we’ll get him out to see the Riptide.”