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Preview/Lines #26: Ex-Islanders Lafontaine, Webb Made Big Impact on Bailey

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

ELMONT, N.Y. – Justin Bailey used to live with New York Islanders legend Pat Lafontaine.

When Bailey was 16, Lafontaine recruited the Buffalo native to join the Long Island Royals 16U AAA team’s quest for a national championship. Lafontaine was the head coach, his son Daniel was also part of the team, and another former Islander, Steve Webb, was the assistant coach.

So what’s it like living with a Hockey Hall of Famer?

Lafontaine’s then-Long Island estate had a cottage, pool, and naturally, an ice rink. Bailey got to live at the Lloyd Neck property before Lafontaine sold the house in 2015 for $6.2 million.

But that’s not what Bailey, who was committed to Michigan State and just dreaming of making the NHL then, took away from the experience.

“It was just getting his perspective,” Bailey recalled. “It was like 45 minutes to and from practice every single time.”

He elaborated: “I might see a guy scoring a goal, but he’s breaking down how it got there. Kind of different perspective on the game within the game.”

Bailey still keeps in touch with the Lafontaines.

But he also cited another pro influence from that season, Webb, who played 321 NHL games as an enforcer, as also having a big impact on his career. Webb scored five goals in his years with the Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Lafontaine racked up 468 with the Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Rangers.

“To see the two different ways you can make the NHL, at 16, you want to score goals, but at the same time, there’s a million different paths to get here,” Bailey said. “Just being able to bounce things off those two guys.”

Funny enough, that’s something of the situation that the winger, now 28, has embraced with the San Jose Sharks in his brief but impressive stint up top.

While Bailey has recorded two assists in four games, more importantly, he plays a grinding, forechecking style first in the NHL, with different expectations than in the AHL, where he’s a top scorer.

No doubt, that’s something that Webb would be proud of.

As for the national championship?

The Long Island Royals won it in hometown Buffalo, and Bailey was the team’s leading scorer, tied with Daniel Lafontaine.

“That was pretty special at 16 to be a part of,” he said.

San Jose Sharks (6-17-2)

David Quinn says that Kaapo Kahkonen will start.

Barring any late setbacks, Filip Zadina and Nico Sturm should return to the line-up.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic will slide in for an injured Matt Benning.

This is how the San Jose Sharks looked up front this morning:

New York Islanders (10-7-6)

Islanders Game 24 Preview vs. San Jose Sharks: Lines, Best Bets, How To Watch

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders is 4:30 PM PT at UBS Arena. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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