For the second consecutive home game, chants of "Fire Lambert" were heard, this time more loudly, as the New York Islanders dropped their fourth straight, falling 4-1 to the Washington Capitals at UBS Arena on Saturday night. Their 5-2-2 start has evaporated, and are now sliding down the standings with a 5-5-3 record heading into a four-game road trip.
The fans are angry. The coach sounds disappointed. The players are frustrated. Some fans will never chant for a coach or GM's job, while others feel it's an appropriate way for them to voice their displeasure with the direction of the franchise. Most times, players will say they tune that stuff out or that fans are entitled to their opinion even if they disagree with it.
However, after Saturday's loss, veteran Casey Cizikas had a more direct message for fans.
“It’s a joke,” Cizikas said to Andrew Gross of Newsday. “It’s a joke. That kind of stuff ticks me off. It really does. I’ve got no time for those fans. I’ve got no time for them."
“If they want to be like that, they can stay home, he added.”
Those are harsh words from a lifelong Islander, especially coming from who said, "I'm going to die an Islander" after he signed his contract extension. Cizikas has loved his time on Long Island and has always been appreciated and beloved by the fanbase. The feelings have largely been mutual.
Emotions are understandably high minutes after games, but a more even response publicly is what's called for from players in that situation. Take what Cizikas said on Saturday in contrast to what linemate Cal Clutterbuck said after Tuesday's loss when asked about the chants about Lane Lambert and Lou Lamoriello.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, I guess,” Clutterbuck said. “It’s up to them whether they want to scream from the rooftops or keep it to themselves. I don’t really care. They paid for their ticket, they wanna say what they wanna say. That’s what it is.”
That's the more measured answer players should give, and most have.
We'll chalk up Cizikas' comments to something said in the heat of the moment. Even if it's something he and other players agree with, pointing criticism and the fanbase that pays good money to come to see them play is never a winning scenario for a player.
It's probably best that the team is heading on a four-game road trip. Depending how it goes, the ire of fans could be waiting for Cizikas and his teammates when they return home.