In a recent poll conducted by The Athletic, New York Islanders fans showed just how they felt about the management of the franchise. They’re absolutely confident in them.
The direction of the New York Islanders has been a sore spot for fans for as long as most of us can remember. Unfortunately, we weren’t all blessed to be around in the 80’s when the team was the gold standard of the NHL. We all wish we had, but such is life.
After those four cups, the Islanders started to fall off the map of the NHL. Off they ice fans dealt with owners that didn’t want to pay, owners that didn’t have any money and the team moving away from its traditional home. On the ice, it was never ending terrible season after never ending terrible season followed by laughable contracts and trades.
Fans have always stuck around, but never have they truly voiced absolute confidence in management. How could fans build confidence when everything around them reinforced every feeling to distrust the franchise?
But that has seemingly changed. In just a matter of months.
Confidence is High
The Athletic (subscription required) recently asked fans from around the NHL to rate how confident they were of their team’s front office. And Islanders fans were decidedly way more optimistic this year then they were last season.
Just a few months ago the New York Islanders hired a man that is in the Hockey Hall of Fame for his work in building the New Jersey Devils into a legitimate NHL franchise. The Isles hired Lou Lamoriello and gave him the keys to the team.
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His job; rebuild the Islanders on and off the ice. His first order of business was to get rid of the man who used to sit at the top in Garth Snow. After 12 years in the seat of power for the New York Islanders, Garth was gone (sort of). And fans could start to trust the franchise was trying to make things better.
Obviously, the Garth firing was the main event, but there were a number of other factors that helped fans feel like they could trust again. New majority owners Scott Malkin and John Ledecky have put their money where their mouth is in trying to rebrand this franchise.
They’ve rebuilt the practice facility. They’ve paid players and aren’t afraid to spend close to the salary cap. With the hiring of Barry Trotz and Mitch Korn, along with Lamoriello, they’re also attracting and paying the best minds in the business.
And then there’s Belmont. The thing the owners absolutely didn’t want us to forget after including it in a post-season debrief. The timing of the note was terrible and the tone was patronizing, but there’s no mistake that Belmont is a huge get for the Islanders.
In Belmont, the Islanders will have a hockey first state-of-the-art modern arena to call home. And it’s going to be on Long Island, some 15 miles from the Nassau Coliseum. Not in Brooklyn, it won’t be designed for basketball with poor hockey sightlines, and it will be theirs.
It’s Not All Rosie
And this increase in confidence came in an offseason where the Islanders start player left for his hometown club after repeatedly stating he wanted to stay. It also comes on the heels of bringing in a bunch of bottom six players.
Valterri Filppula, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Tom Kuhnhackl were added to a roster that already included Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Ross Johnston, and Andrew Ladd. That’s nice players for what should be only six positions.
What’s the plan exactly? Because bringing in those players doesn’t add up.
The Islanders lost a big piece in Tavares and replaced it with character and grit. It’s not the makings of a Stanley Cup challenger. And yet fans are still more confident than ever in the front office.
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Fans have completely bought in to what the owners and Lou are selling. They’re all in on the change that’s happening and the bright days we believe are coming.