NY Islanders fans appear to have their new punching bag replacing Josh Bailey

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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For the first time since 2007, the NY Islanders are playing without Josh Bailey. As Harvey Dent stated in "The Dark Knight" movie, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Bailey had one of the better, long-term careers as an Islanders player in the post-dynasty era. However, in his final years, he was the focal point of negativity from the fan base. In 2023-24, enter Scott Mayfield.

I am not sure Mayfield thought that Bailey would be passing the torch his way, but it appears to have come full circle. First, let me state that both players played themselves into this not-rare but highly undesirable position over the years.

Bailey was part of a tremendous scoring line of John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. Later, Anders Lee took over the opposite wing, and the three players clicked. Bailey excelled in the role of set-up man, while Tavares and Lee scored goals in boatloads.

The former ninth overall draft choice of the Islanders in the 2008 NHL entry draft began making careless mistakes, combined with a decrease in skill from a long career and age. Like most aging stars in professional sports, Bailey was paid far more than his production at the time. This assisted in the target on his back whenever things did not go well on Long Island.

Mayfield played a bottom-pairing defensive game with great physicality and a timely goal once in a while. He was under a team-friendly, long-term deal while developing into one of the team's most reliable penalty killers. Naturally, his best years were under Barry Trotz, like many current and former Islanders players.

Like Bailey, Mayfield's team-friendly contract expired, and could either part ways or remain with the club that drafted him. He wanted to stay on Long Island and took a long-term contract for less annual money than he could have gotten on the open market. Granted, the term was far too much, but it was a player who chose to stay on the island and finish what he started.

Now taking up more salary cap space and for quite some time, the 31-year-old Missouri native's play was on a microscope. His faults and mistakes were now front and center for criticism, while the team's success has also declined. Careless turnovers and mind-numbing penalties have grown over the years in unison with poor team play.

Mayfield's rise as public enemy number one peaked in the Stadium Series game when he took his third penalty late in the game which led to the New York Rangers tying the game and ultimately winning the game in overtime.

It is clear that with so many years left on his contract, Mayfield will and has taken over public enemy number one with the fan base.