The sky is falling for the New York Islanders as they stand still amidst arena, ice, coaching, and player chaos.
It’s been a while since the New York Islanders have experienced a week like this. But hey, two straight 100 point seasons must still mean something despite team decimation and a coach who is apparently beloved until it comes time to actually PLAY for him. So management feels no urgency to make changes and here we are.
I sat in Barclays Center for the embarrassment against the Tampa Bay Lightning. BD Gallof called the team soulless that night, while a myriad other people noted that they looked lost.
I’ve given myself days to try and make some kind of sense of this, hoping they’d have come out hard against the Philadelphia Flyers. Maybe that’s what management was hoping, too.
Life is full of disappointments, though. We know this too well.
I started writing this just as Nick Leddy scored seconds into Saturday night’s game against the Oilers and I stopped, thinking, okay, maybe, maybe this is the response. I hoped it was.
Instead, it was another day and another loss and another performance that, while better, wasn’t nearly good enough.
Just Not Good Enough
It isn’t good enough and the organization is standing pat with stagnant talent, a coach without a system, a worse than useless power play (and now penalty kill) and three unhappy goalies.
Worse than all of that, though, is the squandering of John Tavares’s NHL career. Because seriously, if you don’t think he could have done more elsewhere, well, you’re kidding yourself. He’s on his way to being one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in NHL history.
It sounds dramatic, but this is where the road is leading.
This is no longer about the revolving door of wingers or the bad ice on which they’ve put him. It’s become so much deeper than that. He was dubbed the savior of the franchise when he was drafted. He’s muddled through the muck of a franchise that is the New York Islanders.
Things were supposed to get better. Things seemed to have been getting better.
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Close Isn’t Close Enough
Three of four seasons in the playoffs. Two 100 point seasons. A playoff series win. Tavares himself has two Hart Trophy nominations and just barely missed out on an Art Ross. He’s been everything and more, while given very little.
It’s been a couple of years of feeling close, like the corner was right there to turn. Then this summer happened and we tried to stay optimistic. We tried to explain Garth Snow‘s decisions away because we can’t go back to worst case scenario.
Something’s been missing this season, though, and that something is exactly what made this team different. Special. The years built by the core of players of which Tavares was a part. Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin.
If Tavares is the heart, these guys were the arteries feeding him – not just in the game. They’ve been replaced by something foreign with the expectation that they’ll just be accepted. On some level they have been, but only because there is no other option. But they haven’t done their part, not on the ice or in a leadership capacity that had become necessary.
The Tavares to Toronto (don’t be shocked if Buffalo sneaks in there) talk is going to take center stage with each issue the Islanders face. Most recently the Toronto Star called the organization a circus and folks, this is absolutely reminiscent of years past when they were the laughing stock of the league.
Tavares is going to continue saying the right things. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know how to do otherwise. His loyalty is part of what we love about him and as fans, it might be the one thread of hope we have. But the organization itself doesn’t deserve his loyalty and pretty much hasn’t since the day he was drafted.
New ownership has offered a lot of blustery words and promises but as long as Snow and Jack Capuano remain in their positions, complacent, it shoulders the blame for this nosedive.