Feb 11, 2012; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Nino Niederreiter (25) shoots during the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Islanders won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

To "Tank" or Not to "Tank" - that is the Isles question...

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Mar. 29, 2012; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Josh Bailey (12) is congratulated by teammates after receiving the first star of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Islanders won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

N0te – this is strictly an opinion piece.  I invite you to not only comment, but discuss here.

To be an Islander fan, is to have a strong stomach.  The facts are simple:

No playoff series wins, since the shocking defeat of the Penguins in 1993.  We all remember the 2002 series with Toronto.  Then the disappointing losses  after that to Ottawa, Tampa and Buffalo.  Missing the playoffs over the last few years, they have had the chance to acquire some young stars in the making.  We have all seen the likes of Okposo, Bailey, and Tavares become pros, and make strides to become solid NHL stars.  The future is soon to be visible for Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome to become major factors for this team.

Niederreiter, although only having one goal on the season, is just nineteen years of age, and has such an upside with his size and strength.  Strome is having a fantastic year again in junior, and is expected to have a real strong case to be here in October.

These players up front, are the benchmarks to a strong young nucleus.  Add in the young defensemen here on the Island with Andrew MacDonald, Travis Hamonic; and then put Calvin deHaan, Aaron Ness and Matt Donovan in Bridgeport  into the equation, which you have to be excited for the future.

Take all of these assets, and add the strong play that the Islanders have brought to the fans in the past six games, and what do you have?

My answer is momentum; and the basis for a growing team that has a chance to make waves in 2012-2013.

However, looking at twitter, facebook, and on various message boards, I see the comments that the Isles should lose the rest of their games, so that they can get a  higher draft pick.  They feel that at this time, this is the best course of action; to obtain another high pick, that they feel that would be another Bailey or Okposo.

To those people, I will not deny your fandom; I will not question your passion.  That is not a part of this article.  We Islander fans need to stick together, and be unified in our support of the players and management that wear the map of our home.

However, the ones that feel that we should be heading to the lower portion of the standings and get the top draft pick, should place their head on the flat surface, so I can smash a mallot over them.

November 19, 2010; Mississauga, ON, CANADA; Niagara Icedogs forward Ryan Strome (18) against the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors at the Hershey Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

Yes, being on the bottom five of the league, there is a ‘chance’ that you can end up with the number one pick.  If the season would end right now, the Isles are in a four way tie for 22th place.  That would not be of help.  However, there are two players that should be at the top of the draft.  However, spots 3 through 12 will be interchangeable, depending on how you favor one player over another.  There is no one that will ‘jump’ the page.

The team is playing so well right now – why have the momentum be diminished?  Why have players shut down?  Why wish your team to lose?  I can not, for the life of me, see that sentence to ever be said by a fan!  When you put on a uniform, your goal is to win every time you put it on.  As a fan, you should be wishing for your team to excel each and every game.  All I know, is that my father, God rest his soul, would always say to me – you root for your team every time, no matter whether they are in first, or last.  To me – if they finish fifth, or eighth, or tenth, this is not going to be the difference between the team being a playoff team or not.  A high draft pick does not necessarily mean they will be successful.  For every John Tavares, there are others that do not even make an impact at all.

Right now – the Islanders need to keep playing like they are and show the fan base, there is a strong and vibrant light at the end of the tunnel, and with the up and coming talent that is down the block, the team is on the rise.  If Garth Snow can somehow find a way to obtain some free agent players that can see what I see concerning this team, they can make those upward strides that would make the Orange and Blue take the next page on their ascent to the upper echelon of the league.  The foundation is there, now it is time to tweak it a little.

The word “Tank” does not exist in my vocabulary, and I can not see how a ‘real fan’ can have that.

Don’t you want your team to improve?  Have the Islanders improved from last season?  The answer is YES!

Why would you want a team that is peaking at the end of the season, slow down and lose games, in order to get a player that may be better than another 18 year old now, but in the future could be light years behind?  I just don’t get it.  The difference in a few picks in the June draft is not going to be the end-all be-all.

I am not going to change their minds.  Again, I respect their support and passion, but to ask a team to stop winning and give up the season, is so ludicrous to comprehend, and I will not even dignify it.  I think  that the Islanders are heading in the right direction, and I know that this team will get better; and when we get there, it is not because they lost the last six games and got an 18 year old stud.  It is because the core players are getting mature and more experienced, and the newer crop that are looking to get to the top league in the world, will make their impact.  And lastly, the possible replacements to the lineup will blend with the current roster, to make a team that will be a force to be dealt with for years to come.

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Tags: John Tavares Josh Bailey Kyle Okposo New York Islanders NHL Entry Draft Nino Niederreiter Ryan Strome

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