New York Post columnist Larry Brooks is a 2018 winner of the Elmer Ferguson Award, presented by the Hockey Hall-of-Fame “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honor to journalism and to hockey.”
His opinion has been respected across the league for decades. He also has a very special place in his heart for the Islanders dynasty, a team that he covered closely in the late '70s and early '80s, and has advocated for the Hockey Hall of Fame to create a special wing for the team that won four consecutive Stanley Cups and 19 consecutive playoff series.
However, in his latest column, we have to take exception with his perception of the 2022-23 NY Islanders season. Brooks completed a Pass/Fail exercise where he looked at each of the playoff teams that won't be raising Lord Stanley and determined whether their overall season could be branded a success despite playoff elimination.
For the Islanders, Brooks wrote, "FAIL in every which way imaginable, except for getting those three gates at UBS, which all turned out to be defeats, but hey, just about everybody will be back!"
First of all, the Islanders won GM3 of the series at UBS Arena so that is just simply wrong.
There is absolutely an argument to be made that the Islanders' season was a failure, given how close the team came to the Stanley Cup Final in prior seasons. GM Lou Lamoriello doubled down on the roster and traded a first-round pick, Anthony Beauvillier, and top prospect, Aatu Raty, for Bo Horvat. The front office, coaching staff, and players keep stating they believe they have a group that can win a Stanley Cup and they fell 14 wins short of that goal.
But a "fail in every which way imaginable?" How exactly? The Islanders lost a closely contested first-round playoff series in six games to the Metropolitan Division champion Carolina Hurricanes, a team that ousted the New Jersey Devils in five games in the second-round.
If the team had missed the playoffs, especially after making the trade for Horvat, I would agree with Brooks' assessment, and there would likely have been a greater chance that neither Lamoriello or head coach Lane Lambert would be back for next season if that happened.
But instead, the team went from being unlikely to make the playoffs to clinching a berth in the post-season in the final game of the regular season after adapting their style of play following the Mathew Barzal injury. It's hard to categorize the season as a complete failure given where they were in January and where they ended up, with a real chance to upset the Canes and advance in the playoffs.
The Islanders have issues - plenty of them, and they may be limited on what they can do moving forward to correct them. However, while you can't definitely call last season a success, it's unfair to say they failed in every way imaginable.
That being Brooks' take is hard to imagine.