In Friday's 6-2 win at Carolina, Josh Bailey became the third player in New York Islanders history to skate in 1,000 games with the franchise. It's no small feat. Having enough longevity to play in 1,000 career NHL games is impressive enough, but 1,000 with the same franchise? It's rare, it's special, and it should secure Bailey's spot in the Islanders Hall of Fame.
Josh Bailey's spot in NY Islanders Hall of Fame should be secure after reaching 1,000 games milestone
Reaching the milestone put Bailey in rarified air, joining Bryan Trottier (1,123) and Denis Potvin (1,060) as the only others to reach the mark with the Islanders. While his statistics and team accomplishments pale in comparison to the aforementioned Isles' legends, reaching that milestone should solidify his spot in the team's Hall of Fame - if not more. Let's explain.
There have been only 73 players in NHL history to play 1,000 games with one franchise. The list is littered with NHL Hall of Famers - including Potvin and Trottier. But it also includes players that were a tier or two below, from perennial All-Stars to longstanding fixtures with their respective organizations.
The list includes players such as Chris Phillips of the Ottawa Senators and the Minnesota Wild's Mikko Koivu - both of which have their numbers retired. Neither made an All-Star game or won a Stanley Cup, but each received their organization's biggest honor.
We're not calling for No. 12 to be retired - at least not yet. The history of the Senators and Wild does not compare with one of the great dynasties in professional sports. The Isles would need to hoist a Stanley Cup for Bailey to be a serious consideration for jersey retirement, but the Islanders Hall-of-Fame? It shouldn't exist if it's not meant to celebrate players that have made contributions to the organization to the extent of Bailey.
The history of the Islanders Hall of Fame is an interesting one. Founded in 2006 by owner Charles Wang, the “Core of the Four,” Potvin, Clark Gillies, Trottier, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom, and Billy Smith were inducted from its inception. It later expanded to include others from the dynasty era that did not have their numbers retired - Bob Bourne and Ken Morrow.
The Islanders' first captain Ed Westfall was inducted in 2011, and former captains Patrick Flatley and Kenny Jonsson in 2012. Al Arbour and Bill Torrey also are enshrined. John Tonelli and Butch Goring were added when their numbers were retired in 2020, and ownership has indicated that more names could be added in the future (Pat LaFontaine continues to be the glaring omission).
Whatever your opinion is of Bailey (and having one is a prerequisite of being a fan), he's been the constant for the organization since being drafted ninth overall in 2008. He has been the bridge between eras of Islanders hockey, and while he remains a polarizing topic for the fanbase, the appreciation for the player and person has always been there amongst those that matter most.
"A lot of young guys have learned a lot from him over the years, and I think I have as well, just the way he comes and prepares," Matt Martin said. "A true professional who has been through a lot of different things inside the organization just like the rest of us. One of the constants has always been that he comes to work, does his best, and it's pretty amazing that he's about to play his 1000th game, not only with the Islanders but all one thousand games with one organization."
As time passes, this era of Islanders hockey - the most successful since the early 1980s - will need to be recognized and remembered. While Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Mathew Barzal may very well one day have an even stronger case to make than Josh Bailey in the minds of some, his rare achievement, in not only Islanders, but NHL history, makes him deserving of a Hall of Fame honor.