Old Bethpage, NY–Over the years, the Islanders have had players and GM’s we as fans wanted independence from.
Let’s face it, the road to success for the Islanders hasn’t exactly been paved with gold.
And in the spirit of Independence Day weekend, I would like to take a look at some people that, as New York Islanders fans, we would like to travel back in history and declare our independence from.
We will count down the Top 5 from least to most awful:
#5: Brett Lindros: Taken 9th overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. The Isles selected Lindros knowing they weren’t getting the scoring prowess of brother Eric Lindros. What the Isles were looking for was someone in the mold of a Bob Probert; someone who could drop the gloves, but also had a bit of a scoring touch as well.
I will never forget when he was drafted and he said “I now officially hate the New York Rangers.” Now, this is the kind of guy you want on your team. Everyone was so excited, for after all we “got the better Lindros.” Maybe it was just a bit of wishful thinking, but I can’t be sure. However, I think he may have been injured at the press conference.
Lindros suffered from post-concussion syndrome, and played only 51 total NHL games. He had a grand total of 2 goals and 5 assists. Don’t feel too bad though, because although he did not work out well, or at all, other stars selected in the first round that year included: Chris Dingman, Jason Botterill, Brad Brown and Evgeni Ryabchikov. You remember ol’ Evgeni Rya, Ryb. Yeah, exactly.
The best player selected in that draft was clearly Daniel Alfredsson, and he wasn’t selected until the sixth round. Stellar scouting.
#4: Scott Scissons: Taken 6th overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. The Islanders were in prime position to select Scissons who was coming off a 40 G, 87 point season with Saskatoon of the WHL. He was a solid prospect right? WRONG!
Despite his 6’1″, 201 lb frame, Scissons’ scoring prowess had in Juniors never came to fruition in the NHL, as a lingering shoulder injury would hamper his entire professional career. Scissons played all of 3 total games for the Islanders and registered 0 points.
You know who was taken after Mr. Scissons? Darryl Sydor, Derian Hatcher, Peter Bondra, Doug Weight and Keith Tkachuk. Oh, there was also this goalie taken at number 20 by the New Jersey Devils–a man by the name of Martin Brodeur. Just imagine the last 20 or so years as an Islander fan with this guy between the pipes. Oh, the possibilities!
#3: Robert Nilsson: Taken 15th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Now this move here, this is one will bug me for years to come. I would love to say I understand what they saw in this guy. But I don’t. Nilsson was never really able to adapt to the NHL style of play, starting in just 53 games as an Islander. He was sent to the Edmonton Oilers in the Ryan Smyth trade of 2007. He had 31 goals over 4 seasons for the Oilers before they bought him out. He now plays in his native Sweden and is only 28 years of age.
But the one that irks me the most is Zach Parise. Zach’s dad, J.P. Parise, helped the Islanders advance to the Stanley Cup Semifinals when he was dealt to the team in mid-1975. Zach to the Isles made perfect sense, but apparently Mike Milbury didn’t see that way, and off Parise went to the Devils, as just two picks later he was selected by New Jersey at #17.
Parise has 212 goals and 236 assists in his NHL career.
#2: Don Maloney: GM for the Islanders from 1992 to 1995. Why don’t we run through some of the wonderful accomplishments had during his stint as GM:
- He traded Uwe Krupp and the 12th overall pick to the Quebec for Ron Sutter and the 9th pick, where he took Brett Lindros. (That worked out well.) Detroit had offered Keith Primeau straight up for Krupp just months before the draft.
- He traded Mark Fitzpatrick for Ron Hextall, and then left Glenn Healy exposed in the expansion draft. Healy was then taken by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, then claimed by the Tampa Bay Lightning in phase two of the draft. That very same day, Healy was traded to the New York Rangers for a third round pick. In 1994, he was the backup to Mike Richter, played 68 playoff minutes, and well, we know what happened next.
- He traded Hextall the next year for Tommy Soderstrom. That was a no-win situation, as neither one was a prize, and neither worked out–for us at least.
- He didn’t re-sign Ray Ferraro and he left, eventually signing with the Rangers and breaking the hearts of Islanders fans everywhere when they saw him in “THAT” uniform.
- His Coup De Grace, however, sending fan favorite and perennial all-star Pierre Turgeon and defenseman Vladimir Malakhov to the Habs for Kirk Muller, Matthieu Schneider, and Craig Darby. One of the worst trades ever. Schneider was a good player for the Islanders, but Kirk Muller quickly turned into a pariah after he tried every which way he possibly could not to come to Long Island. He is an enemy to this day.
- Lest we forget, he also hired Mike Milbury as coach. Milbury would eventually take his job as GM.
Which leads me to #1.
#1-Mike Milbury. I had to save the best for last. What is there to say about Mike that we haven’t heard before. He set this franchise back years with his horrific brand of management. Let’s review some of his moves. (There were so many bad ones, it’s hard to narrow it down):
- Traded Brad Isbister and Raffi Torres for Janne Niinimaa . No one was crying when Brad Isbister left. But Raffi Torres, although famous for the wrong reasons, is an extreme agitator. He would look great protecting John Tavares. Niinimaa, on the other hand, did nothing here. In 136 games for New York, Niinimaa recorded only 44 points.
- Traded Chris Osgood and a 3rd Round pick in 2003 to the St. Louis Blues for Justin Papineau and 2nd Round selection Jeremy Colliton. Once again Milbury let his impatience get to him and sent away fan favorite in Chris Osgood for 2 guys who basically did next to nothing as Islanders.
- Selected Rick Dipietro with the #1 overall pick in 2000. However, signing him to a ridiculous contract was Charles Wang’s doing. Not Mike Milbury or Garth Snow.
- Traded Bryan Berard and a 6th Round Pick for Felix Potvin and a 6th Round Pick. Potvin clearly was not the answer here and he had the numbers to prove it. The Cat played in just 33 games over 2 seasons, had 7 wins, and a GAA of almost 3.50. Berard, on the other hand, went on to have a solid NHL career the following 7 seasons.
- Traded Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, and a 3rd Round Pick (Jarko Ruutu) for Trevor Linden. Does this really need an explanation? Trevor Linden tried, he really did. But, he was not the right fit for this team. He was getting older and lost a step or two. Todd Bertuzzi has 288 goals for mostly Vancouver and Anaheim in 1100 NHL games. Bryan McCabe had a pretty successful career and just retired last year. He played 12 more seasons after being traded by the Isles. Jarko Ruutu had a decent NHL career, scoring 58 goals and tallying 84 assists in 652 NHL games.
Here come my two favorites:
- Traded Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt, and a 1st Round Pick (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin(And Carol Alt). Ah yes, Alexei Yashin. The favorite punching bag of Islander fans (until DiPietro signed his ridiculous contract). Yashin was always a decently productive player. It’s when he was productive that was the issue. He typified the lazy Russian label. He tallied 32 goals and 43 assists with the Isles in his first year. He would never again reach the 30 goal plateau. In two of his last three seasons with the team combined, Yashin barely played a full season. The Isles bought him out in June 2007 and will be paying him $2.2M a year for two more years.
Zdeno Chara. Big Z was supposed to form a Twin Towers blue line with another superb draft pick, Branislav Mezei. (He was a 1st rounder in 1999). The Twin Towers didn’t pan out, and Chara was gone and we watch in pain as he has won a Norris Trophy, a Stanley Cup and the hardest shot competition at the All-Star Game.Boy, Jason Spezza and his 621 points in 611 games would look awful nice on Long Island right about now. He is still only 30 years old and could have been a cornerstone of this franchise for years to come. Instead, they are paying Alexei Yashin to go away.
- Traded Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. What do the Islanders need right now? Goaltending. Luongo was an Islander. He was the franchise goalie, until Mike Milbury decided he was so enamored with Rick DiPietro that he could not pass him up. So in comes DP out goes Luongo.
Flash forward to 2013. While we have currently no one with any experience in net, and Rick Dipietro is a former Islander, Roberto Luongo is the starter in Vancouver. He is still only 34 and owns a career 2.52 GAA. Brilliant! Mark Parrish was a very good Islander. Hard worker, put the puck in the net, we were happy to have him. But not for Roberto Luongo.
I am not going to go through the career of Oleg Kvasha because frankly it’s not nice to laugh at the misfortunes of others. If you watched this team play from 2000-01 on, you know of the legend of Oleg Kvasha and he must never be spoken of again.Olli Jokinen had a stretch there where people thought he was a superstar. He went on this tear with the Florida Panthers where he scored 34+ goals in 3 consecutive seasons. Then he came back down to earth and was only decent again. I, like you, am surprised to see he is still actually playing. Who knew? Well, I am sure the people in Winnipeg did, but really, anyone else?
So, there you have it. If we could find Doc Brown, take our DeLorean, and go back about 25 years, maybe we could have fixed this debacle. But onwards and upwards! Today is a new day and the 2013-14 season brings new hope!
Happy Independence Day everyone!