New York Islander Josh Bailey played in his 800 NHL game on Tuesday night for the New York Islanders. It’s safe to say he is becoming a fan favorite.
Josh Bailey was drafted ninth by the New York Islanders in 2008 and played his first two seasons with the Islanders. However, during the ’11-’12 season an injury and some struggles led Garth Snow to send him to Bridgeport for eleven games before being permanently brought back to the big club that season.
During his early tenure with the team, Josh seemed to be a targetted by fans for the team’s struggles. I think part of that discontent was due to very high expectations placed on Bailey.
The fan base seemed to take out their frustration on Bailey with regular boos, and famously fans in section 329 of the Nassau Coliseum created the famous chant, “Ho, Ha. I wanna know, will you score a goal?” It was not sung with love.
In the NHL some players take a while to come into their own and find their game. You can say that this has been the case for Josh. Consider before the ’15-’16 season Bailey never had a 50 point season. Since then he has had three 50 point seasons in a row and during the ’17-’18 season he had a total of 71 points and was named to the 2018 NHL All-Star game.
Here is another point that stands out to me about Bailey. During 17-’18 he had 71 points but was a minus 20 for the season. In his first year under Barry Trotz Bailey still totaled a respectable 56 points and was a plus 8. That plus/minus change is significant to me.
Of course, who can forget Bailey’s game-winning goal against the Penguins last year during the first playoff game? I believe that goal cemented Bailey as a fan favorite and the “Josh Bailey” chant is now sung with true appreciation for the player.
In 2018 Bailey signed a six-year $30 million with an annual cap hit of $5 million. This is a team-friendly contract that provides Josh and the team with cost certainty and he is signed until the end of the ’23-’24 season.
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It may have taken Josh a bit longer to cement himself as a quality NHL player and he has developed into a quiet team leader and offensive presence. Congratulations Josh for playing for 800 NHL games, all with the New York Islanders.