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Islanders: Saying Penguins have best fan base is outrageous

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Fans attend the game between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on April 12, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Penguins 3-1.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Fans attend the game between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on April 12, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Penguins 3-1.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins were recently named the most passionate fan base in the NHL. As a New York Islanders fan, I have to wholeheartedly disagree.

I tried to let this one go. I really did. But as a New York Islanders fan giving the Pittsburgh Penguins the distinction as the “most passionate” fan base in the league is outrageous.

According to Forbes, the Pittsburgh Penguins has the most passionate fan base in the NHL. Because, among other things, Sidney Crosby’s jersey is one of the best-sellers since he entered the league in 2005.

Wild. Has Forbes ever been to a New York Islanders game at the Coliseum before?

No Passion

I understand that from Forbes’ perspective they needed to find a way to distinguish 31 teams from on-another. And a good way to do so is to look at the numbers.

The Penguins sit with a 100.8 percent home attendance record this season and they have a huge social media following. But, like, that’s it. Again, I get why Forbes looked at those numbers and thought: “well that fan base clearly likes their team a lot.”

But yet, that same fanbase is absolutely passionless.

Last year, the Islanders and Penguins faced off in the first round of the playoffs. The final two games of the series were in Pittsburgh. With the Pens down 2-0 in the series, you would expect that this passionate Penguins fan base would have been raucous and wild.

But they weren’t. They were tame and mild.  Watch the recap. You can hear and see the fans in the opening minute of the game and then they immediately go silent. It’s the playoffs! Wake up!

Now, just to juxtapose that crowd with the one for game one of the series. This time the series is on Long Island. And this time the crowd is far from silent.

The opening statement of the video is about the atmosphere of the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders faithful didn’t stop chanting all night long. And it’s like that every night. Every. Single. Night.

Here’s how I know the Islanders fan base is passionate:

They have chants and songs that they use when a specific player scores (or doesn’t), that’s a sign of a passionate fanbase. They care so much about a player’s production that they go home, put some words to some music, and then get back to the arena to sing it.

They show up WAY too early for games just to hang out outside the arena. Like that time “Jeff from Long Island” started tailgating at the Coli nine hours before puck drop.

And they desperately want to connect with other Islanders fans everywhere. Just look at how many Isles meetups exist now! Twenty-six from Long Island to Charlotte to the UK.

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Look, the Islanders don’t have the same attendance numbers as the Penguins. Only the Ottawa Senators have worse attendance numbers than the Islanders this year. And I know that the Islanders social media presence doesn’t have the same impact as the Penguins (yet). But I’ve watched Pittsburgh Penguins games and to say they are the most passionate fans is not true.

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