The NHL Stadium Series entrance was a massive missed opportunity for the NY Islanders

2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Yesterday's NHL Stadium Series matchup between the NY Islanders and NY Rangers had everything you could hope for in a hockey game... Unless you're an Islanders fan.

It was the first outdoor game for the Islanders in ten years, going back to their 2014 matchup with the Rangers, and the Isles had an opportunity to present themselves to the hockey world as a team that could have fun and wasn't all business all the time under Lou Lamoriello. But instead of taking that opportunity and running with it, they failed to appeal not only to causal fans but their own fan base.

It began almost three hours before puck drop as the Isles waltzed into MetLife Stadium. As has been customary of teams participating in outdoor games, the players have fun with their entrances, wearing matching outfits symbolic of the city they represent. The two teams representing New York had the perfect opportunity to collaborate on an idea that would honor those who keep the people in their communities safe every day in the Police and Fire Departments. The Rangers, escorted by members of both departments, wore hockey sweaters of the NYPD and FDNY as they entered the stadium. The Islanders, who exited fire trucks and were escorted by police cars, walked into the stadium wearing suits as if it was any other game.

Lamoriello has his rules that he's forced his staff to abide by for decades. It keeps professionalism around the organization and prevents individuals from becoming bigger than the team as a whole. But there are times when those ideologies should become relaxed, this being one. The Islanders aren't a team on the national stage very often. Aside from their back-to-back semi-final appearances, this is perhaps the most the spotlight has been on Long Island since.

The players surely didn't want to walk into the stadium in suits and would have rather had fun with the entire event. But Lamoriello likely put the kibosh on the idea. Imagine the Islanders honoring the fire department and the Rangers honoring the police or vice versa. Despite the bad blood between the organizations and the fan bases, it would have been a way for the two sides to show solidarity on something much bigger than hockey.

In the grand scheme of things, it means nothing. How the Isles were dressed had nothing to do with blowing a 4-1 lead or allowing three power play goals once again. But in a day where expressing individuality has become more common, players should be allowed to have fun to an extent. The individual should never become greater than the team, but players in this organization and others see this kind of autocracy and make them have second thoughts about wanting to play for a GM like Lamoriello.