The New York Islanders can learn quite a bit from their moderately successful future co-tennants about how to handle the coming season.
The first thing the New York Islanders, and especially their fans, might want to look at is their field generals. Both Terry Collins and Jack Capuano are maligned by the faithful as lacking in basic understanding of the Xs and Os of their sport. Fans wonder why progressive confident GMs put their faith in these two throwback rah-rah guys.
I think the answer for Alderson and Snow is that in times of adversity, groups of men are held together by leaders of integrity who have formed a personal connection with the troops. In leadership, respect trumps genius. Communication and comfort trump psychological schemes and games.
Collins lost four fifths of a terrific starting rotation, and and entire starting infield. But he got the Mets to an improbable playoff game. That was due, in large part to a cohesive clubhouse. Capuano seems to have that same connection to his hockey players. We shouldn’t be afraid to value that.
Another great lesson is the value of roster depth. When Neil Walker gets hurt your put Flores at second base. when Flores gets hurt you put TJ Rivera in that spot. And you still have enough infield depth to trade Dilson Herrera.
The Islanders seem to know this. For the first time in decades – probably since the dynasty years – the Islanders seem to have depth at every position, on every level (NHL, AHL, Prospects).
Not all the lessons they can learn are positive. One situation facing the Mets is that their entire offense runs through a single player, Yoenis Cespedes. There are certainly other players in that line up with some power, but they are all flawed and without the ability to strike fear in a pitcher’s heart.
If that doesn’t sound familiar to an Islanders fan, than they haven’t been paying attention. The Isles no doubt have a whole bunch of guys who can pop in 20-25 goals this year. The problem is that for each one of them, playing with Tavares is really the only likely way to accomplish that.
Like the Mets, The Islanders need to find a couple more weapons. That means progress from disappointing youngsters like Conforto and Strome, or acquiring someone from elsewhere. But you need to spread the offense.
The third and final lesson today is about team success. The Mets, in 2015, had their best post-season success in at least a decade and a half, making the World Series. But that entitled them to nothing in 2016 except a flag raising ceremony in the spring. Fortunes change quickly in pro sports, the winds shift, and windows of opportunity close.
For these New York Islanders coming off a modest-for-anyone-but-them second round appearance in last spring’s playoff, be careful. Don’t count on the fact that having been there before signifies that you are likely to return. History will tell us whether the Islander franchise has a reached a new sustainable level of success.
If you want history to treat you well, be the one that writes it.