3. Bailey the Hero
Josh Bailey is a name that brings about a range of emotions in Islanders fan circles. He’s often a steady, quiet presence in the Islanders lineup. He’s lauded for his high hockey IQ and passing, loathed for his seeming lack of intensity, and he’s finding ways to build a legacy as a late-game hero these last two years.
Bailey isn’t the flashy playmaker that the Islanders hoped they’d drafted back in 2008. He’s not the first line winger many of us had hoped he would finally blossom into as the John Tavares years wound down on Long Island.
For a time in his career, he was more often the scapegoat. The player who didn’t seem to deserve his draft spot.
I’ll never forget years and years ago, in what was probably a meaningless game anyway, when he slipped and allowed Alex Ovechkin an overtime breakaway in which the Great Eight scored. I absolutely hated Bails in that moment, even if I really didn’t have a coherent argument for why.
But, I’ve grown to like Bailey, and even cherish him as a player I’ve gotten to grow up watching. No matter how often he appears inconsistent, he always seems to find his mark. He’s been a solid producer, a steady presence, and every once in a while he finds room to be the hero.
Bailey was the hero on Monday night, the overtime hero. The player who found a way to break a tie that had lasted for some 30+ minutes, and in doing so etched another lasting image into his Islanders legacy.
Sure, it was because of a poor pass made by Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry. Sure, you can still criticize Bailey for a lot of things. You can talk about how he’s getting old, and his performance was in decline during the regular season because of it.
But, a season after leading the Islanders in playoff points inside the bubble, and two seasons after burying the OT winner in game one which laid the foundation for Brendan Burke’s now-famous “game one to the Island” quote, Bailey just scored another OT winner in a crucial game.
Love him or hate him, that’s the stuff legends are made of.