I’ll jump right into this one. I understand the negativity coming from Islanders fans. I understand it’s been a miserable time for every single one of them. The losing, the building, and the uncertainty have cast a huge cloud over the team. Every single season is one more year of uncertainty because it’s one year closer to 2015, a year that once seemed like it would never arrive.
Now 2012, the Islanders time is running out. The team hasn’t been really exciting since the 2001-02 season, and although it has had its moments, the Islanders haven’t really had any dominant stretches. Even so, from the 2001-02 season to the 2007-08 Season, the Islanders made the playoffs 4 out of those 6 seasons.
After the 2007-08 Season, the Islanders’ rebuild officially began with the draft choice of Josh Bailey. Going into year 5 of the rebuild, I can only preach one thing, regardless of the poor circumstances: Patience.
I know Islanders fans are absolutely sick of hearing that. I know, as an Islanders fan myself, we compare the Islanders to other teams. We look at how these other teams turned it around in less time, or how these other teams have made multiple playoff appearances. Islanders fans want results now, and although they deserve them, they are not getting them.
Here’s the thing: There is no quick fix.
When the Islanders came into existence, Bill Torrey did something interesting. He didn’t make many trades for veteran guys. He decided to stay his course, and build through the draft. Did you know that Billy Smith, Bobby Nystrom and Lorne Henning were part of the Islanders inaugural 12-60-6 Season? Dennis Potvin was added the next season, as was Al Arbour behind the bench, yet the Islanders still failed to make the playoffs. By year 8, the Islanders began one of the most dominant stretches of any team in sports history where they won 4 Stanley Cups in a row.
And although the Islanders are not an expansion team, they are in the midst of a rebuilding team. Rebuilding teams are an interesting topic. They are the butt-end of jokes for so long, and then this happens: Los Angeles spent six seasons outside of the playoffs. 2002-03 through 2008-09 was six seasons in a row that the Kings did not see hockey past the beginning of April. The next season, 2009-10, the Kings finished 6th. Then they finished 7th. Then they finished 8th, and became the first team to win a Stanley Cup as the 8th-seed. Sure, they added Richards and Carter, but it was only after their prospects showed they could play.
It took nine years for LA to add the final pieces to win a Stanley Cup. The Islanders are only in year 5. I’m not saying that it’s a terrible thing either. The Islanders are closer than anyone gives them credit for. The players are still developing, regardless of how many times everyone says they are busts. Honestly, it’s coming from a frustrated fan-base, and we all need someone to blame. Relax.
Tavares has become a monster. He was a “gift,” but so what? Who doesn’t like gifts? Hamonic is only going to improve. It’s also not like Bailey and Okposo haven’t shown some improvement. There’s no reason to give up on these guys when, for example, Josh Bailey is only 22 years old! Casey Cizikas and David Ullstrom are NHL-ready, and others are on their way.
When these guys perform well, more pieces are set in stone, and it becomes easier to find that veteran (no, not Pandolfo) that the Islanders have wanted. When the Islanders win the Stanley Cup, a Parise type player will be the final piece as opposed to the quick fix we all want to see. Patience, Isles fans. Baby steps. Playoffs first, and then we can think elsewhere. Work with what the Islanders have, and support the team while they battle for a playoff spot. Don’t give up on the kids yet. The New York Islanders are closer to a playoff birth than most people think.
Follow me on Twitter @ChrisTriants
Filed Under: New York Islanders
About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants