The question on every New York Islanders fan’s mind isn’t necessarily a question at all, but a stark reality. One that has hovered over the organization for, it seems, an eternity.
I have never understood, for the life of me, why a team that saw such wonderful days 20 to 30 years ago is incapable of building a road back to said glory. Moreover, the Islanders have become one of many ‘whipping boys’ or ‘punchlines’ for the NHL, other teams, and reporters. Granted, there’s been very little to cheer about aside from John Tavares‘s talent and massive potential, which may be traded away one day if things go sour in Brooklyn. Nevertheless, when I was growing up Islanders fans were abound; now I’m stuck hearing Rangers fans talking smack about how there’s only one team in New York, blah blah. THE ISLANDERS WON FOUR STANLEY CUPS! Four consecutive cups at that? I just don’t get it.
Then there’s the albatross around Wang’s neck in the form of beleaguered/battled/bruised Rick DiPietro, whose luck (and play) with the Islanders reminds me so much of Bobby Bonilla and the Mets (his failure to live up to even an inch of the money dished out, etc.) without all the smugness. I remember back when Billy Smith was still a part of the Islanders coaching/advisory team, and unfortunately I cannot quote the exact source where I read (or heard?) but he went on record to say that the Islanders were making a big mistake bringing up DiPietro at the time they did and it would cost them big in the long run–even hurt his career. As Smith explained, he felt DiPietro would overcompensate in areas where his talent was underdeveloped, causing for unnecessary injuries and miscues that would cost the team goals.
Whatever the case, my “Stanley Cup” this year, in all honesty and with as much ‘sobriety’ as I can muster, will come in the form of being at least a few games above .500. OR, at the most, a formidable opponent, the likes of which will NOT be blown out night in night out.
Here’s what Adrain Dater from Inside the NHL at si.com had to say about them:
Geez, you just want to say some nice things about this team and its near-term future. But you just can’t quite do it. John Tavares proved last year that he’s an elite scorer, but there just isn’t enough talent around him to get too excited about the Isles. How long before goalie Rick DiPietro goes back on the injured list, too?
Annoying doesn’t even cover such a report, but more so because it’s true rather than simple trash talk. I would rather have a scrappy team that gives everyone a fight, rather than bottom-feeders that everyone points to and laughs, or some semblance of the 1994 New York Rangers, who with all due respect, were nothing more than the New York Oilers.
The Islanders have a chance to pave a way out of mediocrity, both on and off the ice, if and only if they’re vigiliant and disciplined and intelligent. Now let’s drop the puck.