I spent this weekend at Staples Center as a fan of the New York Islanders. The NHL All-Star Weekend is a gathering of more than just the league’s best players and league officials. It’s a three-day fan fest. A hockey-themed Comicon.
I was fortunate enough to have tickets to the events on both Saturday and Sunday. Though I would have enjoyed Friday’s evening with the top 100 Players much more. Always nice to be in a room with New York Islanders greats Potvin, Smith, Trottier, and Bossy. As well as Islander “good” Pat Lafontaine.
I was there on the LA live plaza both afternoons as fans of the Islanders, the Kings and 29 other NHL team come together for the festivities and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask fans of other franchises what they thought about the Islanders.
This is about as far from a scientific survey as can be imagined. But still, I will explain the methodology. I simply asked as many people as would talk to me, what they thought about the Islanders. And I made sure to include at least one person in a jersey of every other NHL team. That is every team, including Las Vegas, but excluding the Islanders.
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Sixty-six responses in all to the single question, “What do you think of the Islanders?” In the smallest surprise in human history, the most uttered word was; “Tavares”. In the petty and bitter chat board world of the internet, there are often cries that he is overrated, or hasn’t won much. But fans with a ticket, a jersey, and a beer across the league seem to love him.
Need To Get Him A Winger
Again, no shock that some form of “Love to have him on our team” and “They need to get him a winger”, were common refrains.
When I asked what people thought of, the second most common answer I got was about the Dynasty years. Almost a full third of people said the first thing they think of with the Islanders was the roster they had 37 years ago.
That is either a testament to the enduring legacy of the greatest sports team ever assembled… or a rousing indictment of the futility that followed.
And that last part is fascinating. Not a single person of 66 mentioned last spring’s monkey-off-the-back, OT series winner. It didn’t seem to register at all with the greater hockey fan population.
Was it undone by the crappy first half this year or the preceding decades of poor play? I’m guessing the latter.
More from Eyes on Isles: John Tavares is Committed to the Isles…For the 1,000th time
They Know Nothing of Us
Islander fans, your team is not being taking seriously by the league. The other common words I heard, after “Tavares” were all negative. Hapless. Pathetic. Perennial losers. Especially “losers”.
So I asked several people what made them think of the Islanders as “losers” – despite back to back 100 point playoff seasons, a world class all-star, a brand new building, and being among the playoff’s final eight teams.
“They never win anything.”
“When was the last free agent they signed? Nobody”
“I go to NY to see them every year and never have to pay face price for a ticket”
“I am a huge hockey fan and I can only name one guy on the whole team”
There was also one drunk guy who blamed it on NY being a socialist state that voted for Clinton, and two apparently sober people who said Long Island was Trump territory and THAT was the reason the Islanders suck. Welcome to America.
All of the above fits perfectly into what you might expect. A combination of ignorance and condescension that pretty much permeates all sports fan discussion. There was nothing Islander specific or hockey specific about that array of answers.
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The Second Best
But my follow-up was more enlightening. Who is the Islanders’ second best player?
Here are two candidates I think you — as a big enough fan to spend time reading this– would consider, that didn’t get a single vote. Nick Leddy and Thomas Greiss. Leddy and Greiss could conceivable be number two and three on a list of Isles’ best players. But not ever mentioned.
Travis Hamonic actually won the poll in a landslide. More than half of the people surveyed think he is the Islanders’ second best player. Ryan Strome was next, then in order, Boychuck, Lee, and Cizikas. Four people came up with Casey Cizikas‘ name before Nick Leddy’s.
And just to prove the whole endeavor was wasted and provided no valuable insight, I leave you with this. I discounted about 20 people from the poll because their response to, “What do you think of the New York Islanders?” was either “Yo, Brooklyn!!!” in sort of a Vinnie Barbarino celebration of cultural anachronism. Or the even more tragically annoying “Lon GIsland?”
Oh, and I got to see the Skills Competition and the All-Star game.