Playing for pride or playing for draft position?


This is purely a personal opinion based post, but I have found it disturbing that the discussion over whether the Islanders should “tank” the rest of the season in favor of a top 5 pick or should they play out the remainder of the season to attempt to make the playoffs or, at least, give it their best shot, is even taking place. I’ve heard it called, “playing for pride, verses playing for the draft”, but, to me, it is more than that.

The reality is, yes, the New York Islanders are rebuilding, and those of us in Islanders country have been dealing with frustration and disappointment for too many recent years to count. However, with rebuilding should come improvement and advancement with each subsequent season. This 2009-2010 hockey club has taken positive strides forward and beyond the drama and complaining of some of the fan base, it cannot be denied that the boys have done far better than the so called experts have expected. Perhaps, we are on the very outskirts of the playoff picture, but how many people would have even placed this team still in the playoff mix in the closing stages of March? Frankly, I’m personally proud of this team, it’s management and, most of all, of being an Islander fan.

So, do they just give up the ship and relegate themselves to a 29 or 28 place finish in the league? Do we play the draft lottery and spend the spring months debating who in the draft will be available and who we should be trying to get? Do we spend the summer talking about all of the prospects we have in the fold and what it will mean for the 2010-2011 season? Do we continue to count the years pile up since the last championship season and glumly accept being at the bottom of the hockey world Again as being our fate forever.

To me, the answer is simple. It’s a resounding, NO. I’d rather see this team play out the season with desperation and tenacity as if we are just a point out of the final 8 spot. I’d prefer the boys to finish as high up in the NHL standings as they can get. I desire to finish out the season playing solid, consistently improving hockey that can be built on next season. Frankly, I can care less what draft pick our position in the standings might earn us. I believe the prospects we have on the current roster and in our system will continue to develop and under Scott Gordon, the New York Islanders will return to become among the top teams in the NHL in the near future.

Most importantly, I believe Scott Gordon and the team itself is playing for “pride”. I expect to see the Islander’s in every remaining game, and I expect that each remaining opponent is not going to have an easy night against us. I feel that the isles are going to collect as many of the 20 remaining possible points in the standings as they can. They are all professionals, and draft position is something I doubt even crosses their minds when they take the ice.

By the way, how come the New York media presents the Rangers’ situation as “battling for a playoff spot” and the Islanders as “battling for draft position”? Does anyone in the media look at the standings?