Out of the Mix….A Good Thing for Hockey on the Island?
Let’s face it; this season has not been the epitome of Islanders domination. This year’s pains might just be good medicine for next year though. Still, the question arises: What has happened to the dynasty of the ‘80s and the Long Island crew for that matter?
Where are the Bossys and the Potvins of 2009? And those die hards, where have they gone?
Answer: They are and have always been here. The Islanders’ traditions of maintaining a committed fan base and a beloved team have remained mainstays in the Long Island Hockey culture. What has become apparent, however, is the overshadowing of that culture by a tragic combination of poor leaders and an even poorer foundation.
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Because let’s face it, the Islanders have struggled mightily over the past decade from a faltering arena, LI’s Nassua Colisseum, or, as I like to call it, the Crumbling Colissuem. Many longtime fans, as well as close friends, have expressed displeasure at the lack of progression at this venue. Among their concerns are the overly expensive and inadequate venders, as well as the demolishing architecture itself. I once recall going to an Islanders game, purchasing a hot dog from a stand, and finding that they were out of ketchup and mustard. At this point, my friend said to the guy behind the stand, “Boy, you guys really need a new building, to which the gentleman responded, “Oh yeah, I know.” So, we have addressed the problem of aesthetics: A professional hockey team cannot function as a successful franchise with a subpar playing location. And when a team is struggling much like the Islanders are, it’s these off -ice issues that become present to fans, and, ok…..critics like me.
Moving to the on-ice issues, it only gets worse. The Islanders have suffered over the past number of years for one reason above all the rest: lackadaisical coaching. With Ted Nolan, the Islanders were a tough unit to beat, no question. (Being a Rangers fan, I certainly remember the hard fought battles the Blueshirts had with their metro nemesis) However, whenever the team would slip and slide away out of the hockey atmosphere, Mr. Nolan did not exude the kind of uplifting professionalism that many would have wanted him to display. Press conferences were abysmal at times; when a team loses, their coach should directly address mistakes made on the ice, and not hide behind short, indifferent answers like Nolan did. Interestingly, Tom Renney of the Rangers, who began coaching the Rags as a stern, businesslike fellow, hid behind these kinds of responses during the week of his firing. Scott Gordon, Mr. Nolan’s replacement, has shown us a similar disposition, and his squad sits at the back of the Eastern conference because of it. Don’t get me wrong, these two men are hockey savvy, no doubt. But the fans and the team deserve a moderate coach, and one who shows emotion when he needs to. These guys are just out of touch and unresponsive. Not the type you’d want to have beer with, huh?
Closing it out with the team itself…well, what can you say? The Islanders have struggled this year, and have desperately grabbed on to a meager 56 points. A disappointment? I think not. The squad in white, blue and orange has consistently put forward talented young studs, and the occasional veteran leader. Saddled by the injuries of Rick Dipietro, (the puck handling goalie marvel) and Mike Sillinger (king of the faceoff circle), and notable others, you might say that the Isles are just unlucky. Well, all teams are at some point. How a unit manages in times of distress, however, is what needs to be examined. So, in the hopes of staying positive with a team that once held the coveted chalice for four consecutive years, allow me to say this: The Post All Star Break Isles have impressed many, including this young kid, and will finish out their season with a lot to look forward to. Next season’s mantra for this club: Redemption. And who knows, redemption may come with reclamation of hockey’s Holy Grail in the near future.
By: Adam Jordan
Prohockey-fans.com New York Islanders Correspondent
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