Islander Fans – Masters of Gerrymandering

There are many different fans in the sports world. Some root just for winners; we call them frontrunners, bandwagon fans, or just plain old jerks. Maybe they’re on to something, as they tend to end up watching excellence – or lots of free throws in the case of Miami Heat fans. Then there are fans that stick with their team through thick and thin, for better or for worse, because they provide a distraction for the boring rituals of every day life. Diehards, lifers, or maybe people lacking better choices for hobbies. Then there lies a group that is in between. They’re a special kind of lifer that actually >GASP< asks for excellence of their team. We call this the moderate fan- the most misunderstood fan in the sports world.

See, a frontrunner will say that winning is the important thing, so why bother wasting time watching a loser? There’s certainly a fair point in that kind of thought. A diehard will say that victory tastes sweeter when you suffer through the downs because it makes you appreciate the ups even more. Also a good point. But the point the moderate fan makes is, why can’t we demand that our team provide us with a winning product? Are we less of a fan because we watch mediocrity and actually want better? If we see some improvement, is it wrong to want more?  Is ok to ask those “in charge” to be held accountable?

IslandersPatience

There is such a thing as too much patience

In politics there is a premise called  Gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a practice in which you draw lines in voting districts in order to preserve that area for a representative of a specific political party. As politicians try to maintain a majority in an area, these lines are drawn nowhere near straight- they’re very unusual lines to represent one political side at the expense of the other views in those areas. Many Islander fans have shown an amazing propensity to do exactly the same- they gerrymander any personnel move by Garth Snow.

For example, if you look at the FANTASTIC trade made by the Ottawa Senators in acquiring Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks and listen to Islander fans speak, they truly show a grasp of gerrymandering that should put them in Washington. If you look at the players Ottawa sent statistically, they sent a guy who MAY be a 20 goal scorer in the NHL, a leading scorer in the AHL, and a mid first round draft pick. Hmmm…did the Islanders have a potential 20 goal scorer on the roster in Josh Bailey? A leading AHL scorer in Nino? A mid first round pick? Yes, they did. But, Islander fans will start the Gerrymandering process with “Nino hurt his leverage with his NHL play and his bad attitude.” Nino’s ROLE hurt his value, as a finesse player isn’t meant to be stuck on a fourth line with the likes of Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner, the latter possessing the whopping one Islander goal over two seasons. If you are going to say that Nino’s play hurt Snow’s trade leverage, then you have to hold Capuano responsible for putting Nino in a spot that not even Wayne Gretzky himself could have scored. Or Snow himself for ruining trade values by not telling Capuano to play Nino with Tavares, just as Snow told Capuano to use Roadcone Finley and Thomas Hickey over Radek Martinek last season.

Yeah, for some reason Islander fans didn't want him. too expensive, too many prospects, we'd miss out on a pick...

Yeah, somehow being on sale for over a year actually improves trade value, but only on guys from New Jersey.

 

And speaking of hurting leverage, we wonder how Bob Murray didn’t hurt his bargaining position by shopping Ryan for 14 months leading up to his trade. It’s amazing that Islander fans don’t see a guy telling the entire league to make him an offer for 14 months as something that can diminish a player’s value, whereas a guy complaining while he produces leading scoring numbers when used in the proper role hurt his value. This is an amazing dissection of reality. And to add to it, they’ll overlook a statement like “Nino was a wasted opportunity as a elite level draft pick earned by ruining an entire season of the career of John Tavares,” and instead focus on the value added of a Clutterbuck even though the Islanders fourth line is probably their most complete and least in need of help. Maybe Nino should have helped return that elusive second line center that’s been lacking for what, 5 years now?

Die hard fans dissect trades to fit their world views. Identical moves that are bad for others are good moves by their home team. Good moves by others, like acquiring talent, would be bad moves for us because it may hurt someone’s feelings. Losing obviously doesn’t hurt players feelings, somehow. These fans will change their own views and positions based on what the team does, even as it contradicts what they were saying just 5 minutes ago. It’s really a thing at which to marvel.

waivers kid

And what’s worse, those lifers ATTACK fans who demand excellence from their own rooting interests. The writers of this blog, as well as those who post similar opinions on twitter, Islander Mania, HF boards, and comment on Islanders Point Blank have been called trolls, overly negative, naysayers, and the worst insult of all- Ranger fans. Why? Because we ask questions like “Wow is losing a first round playoff series any different than what Snow was out to avoid doing when he started his rebuild 7 years ago?” or “How is being shut out for 33% of your playoff experience a good thing?” or “Why is every move made in the offseason good, as well as every move not made?” or “Why aren’t you demanding a star player next to Tavares? Didn’t you learn from Alexei Yashin passing to Jon Sim on his wing?” Yes, these are the questions that make us not fans. And that’s why it’s impossible to take diehards seriously.

 

No one can doubt that these people are absolutely committed to the Islanders. Unfortunately, committed is a term often associated with mental patients. And so we ask this, loyal Islander fans: be loyal to the insignia and players, not the buffoonery that operates the organization. John Tavares deserves your loyalty for his effort and leadership. The guy sticking the “wing of the month” next to him does not. Travis Hamonic deserves your loyalty for leaving blood on the ice. The guy who hasn’t been able to draft a better partner for him in the last 8 NHL drafts does not. Ticket buying fans save franchises, owners who are looking for land deals and move a team to the most populous and lucrative market available years before a lease ends do not. Stop trying to draw crooked lines to justify the fact that this franchise had one chance of almost playing for a Stanley Cup since they lost to Edmonton in the mid 1980′s. Stop trying to explain away the fact that it’s been 20 years since this team won a playoff series in that same aforementioned run. We understand that there have been several owners, coaches and general managers.  This is a franchise and whoever is in charge of said franchise is accountable for continuing success or improving for future success. If you’re a true fan, you can start by demanding answers from the leadership to these questions:

- If you claim to have no financial restrictions, then why has this team refused to spend on any decent second line center to help out John Tavares?

- Why haven’t we won a playoff series in over a generation? Why is no one held accountable in the front office for such?

- Why is your draft record similar to Mike Milbury yet you’re still employed as a general manager?

- How is it that after playing alongside Yashin and seeing his struggles with sustaining offense are you doing the exact same thing to John Tavares regarding a wing?

- Why aren’t you trading roster players? This isn’t exactly a perennial playoff contender?

- Why are you afraid to promote your elite draft picks into positions they’re expected to fill? How can your last 6 first round draft picks be 5 minor leaguers and one traded for a 4th liner?

- After posting zero goals in six playoff games, why are you in a rush to lock up Josh Bailey to a long term contract?

- Why did you pass on Cam Folwer and have drafted 14 defensemen since?

- Do you really have confidence in Jack Capuano? What gives you reason to specifically?

- Do you look at your team depth chart before making “moves”?  If so, why did you resign Eric Boulton to make a move for Cal Clutterbuck and sign Peter Regin?  Regin is obviously a replacement for jettisoned David Ulstrom and Jesse Joenseu as a 13th forward and Clutterbuck certainly isn’t going to sit since he should be an asset, injury permitting of course.

- You have been quoted as saying that you see Frans Nielsen being most effective as a third line center.  If this is the case, why do you refuse to get a second line center and continue to slot Frans there?

 

That’s just a starting point- you can add your own thoughts. And these things have to be asked by a fan, as any media outlet covering this team is so scared of having credentials revoked (the Botta Clause) that they lob softball questions without any substance so that they can get the free hot dogs in the press room. It’s embarrassing to see what some sports writers present as journalism. It reads more like the back of a hockey card written by an 8th grader. Islander fans, enough with the gerrymandering of reality- in the end, all it does is enable the team to dish you a big fat plate of more of the same.

waiver chicks

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  1. RobJ74 says:

    Im a die hard but that doesnt mean Im satisfied with being a perennial loser. A die hard fan is someone who chooses to follow a team and sticks with them through thick & thin.

    • MattandDan says:

      As diehards and former season ticket holders, we made our investment in this team. We’re waiting for the owner to do the same.

      And there comes a point where a diehard has to say “why do we lose so much? Can we do something different?”

  2. RobJ74 says:

    Fans cant do anything about the way the team is run. We can only root for the guys on the ice. This article is ridiculous

    • MattandDan says:

      Have you forgotten how the Mike Must Go chants at every event got Milbury to resign? Guess so.

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  4. chris lanigan says:

    I agree with RobJ74, this post is ridiculous. First of all, I don’t think gerrymandering is the term that accurately describes what you’re complaining about. Us diehards aren’t in any particular area, district or town, certainly not one drawn by the Islanders. Presumably most of us live in Nassau County but that’s based on proximity to the coliseum. I believe the term “partisan” would be more correct in describing what offends you about diehards. Secondly, you make a sweeping judgment about all diehard Islander fans irrationally supporting everything the organization does based, apparently, on a few people who commented on articles and “attacked” your opinion. How many of these people can there be five? Ten? There are thousands of us diehards so please don’t judge us by the comments of less than one percent of us because we certainly do not agree with every move the Islanders make. Thirdly, you are a hypocrite using this blog to attack those of us who are committed to the team by comparing us to mental patients. That’s an insult and thus an attack by your own standard.

    Finally, lets look at some of your complaints/questions. At the outset I must ask, why should we give your opinions any more weight than our own or those of the Islanders organization? Are you a GM or scout or other talent evaluator? While you have every right to question moves made or not made, we also have the right to reach our own opinions and if they happen to conflict with yours that does not mean we are attacking you or are guilty of “homerism” or partisanship. Maybe we just disagree, it happens.

    So you complain about not getting Bobby Ryan for Bailey, Nino and our 1st this year. How do you know Garth didn’t make this offer or a similar one and it was rejected? Like most teams, the Isles do not publicize every trade offer. Sometimes that can have a negative effect on the guys in the offer. And while I would have made the trade you propose, I dont think it would be irrational for someone to prefer to keep Bailey, Nino and Ryan Pulock who all still may have significant upside. In the post you refer to one of our former first round picks being traded for a fourth liner. I presume you are referring to Nino for Clutterbuck. You left out the draft pick so I guess that is worthless. Clutterbuck will not be a 4th liner, he will be a third liner at least. Did you notice that Garth just signed Thomas Hickey to a two year deal on the cheap? Hickey was the #4 overall pick in 2007. The Kings got nothing for him. That says more about the Kings blueline than Hickey’s ability but surely the Kings GM must be a buffoon for not getting anything for him right? It happens. No one believes Garth is perfect. We all would have liked to get more for Nino. Hell we would have liked to see him become a star for the Isles. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. Us diehards would like to believe that Garth did the best he could under the circumstances. Do you have to like it? No. Shall we sulk about it all summer? No. Are we excited to see Clutterbuck and Martin smash every Ranger into the boards? Damn right!!

    I don’t think I have the space to address all of your complaints but here are my general thoughts:

    Obviously there are financial restrictions on the team. According to all reports Wang is losing millions every season. I can’t blame the man for not throwing good money after bad. He ain’t making any money until he gets out of the lease at the coliseum. So he ain’t spending until Brooklyn (didn’t the Beasties write No Spending Till Brooklyn!!). If he doesn’t spend when they get to Brooklyn then I’ll join in the Sell the Team chant. But right now I see them spending on young players they develop. I like that. As far as a second line center or JT right wing, it would appear that the team hopes Strome can fill one of those roles and if its at right wing then the hope is that Brock Nelson will become the second line center.

    What you don’t seem to realize is that the Islanders have committed to a rebuild through the draft. They will not trade prospects for players other teams don’t want or cant afford. They would rather see if Anders Lee can become a big scoring wing than taking on Horton or Clarkson for ridiculous amounts of money with significant injury histories. They would rather try to develop a big physical defenseman like Reinhart or Mayfield or Pedan than pay a fortune for Weber or Suter. You can disagree with that strategy all you want. Its not your money and you’ve got nothing to lose as an armchair GM. But many of us diehards go back to the 80s and we remember how those teams were built through good drafting and a few shrewd trades. We like how this team is coming along and playing with energy and tenacity and physicality. We see them getting better and we want to watch them go all the way. If these prospects pan out then Garth will probably make a few trades for impact players down the road. You seem to want to trade them away now without giving them a chance to develop. Maybe they will be better than anybody you can trade for. Who knows but we diehards follow their progress and most professional evaluators agree that the Isles have one of the best group of prospects in the NHL. Coupled with some brilliant bargain basement pickups like Moulson, Grabner and Hickey, the Isles talent evaluators have earned our trust more than you have.

    I know rebuilding thru the draft is not popular in today’s I Want It NOW world but some of us are still gonna be diehards and keep our rose colored glasses because we love the team and hope for the best. If you want flashy trades and big signings you can always root for the Flyers or Rangers. Those moves don’t seem to get teams anywhere yet people keep clamoring for more of the same. Us diehards have been here for years and we’ll be here for years to come. We can wait a few years to watch this team develop. And when they win the Cup it really will be that much sweeter for having gone through the down years and investing ourselves in the team during this rebuild, watching our favorite players blossom into stars. You and the rest of the “moderate” fans are free to jump ship at any time. Us diehards don’t really care what you do. In fact, if you keep telling us what we should and shouldn’t like about the team then we’d really rather not have you around.

    • MattandDan says:

      Chris,

      Nice reply. Lots to discuss, but since I have to scroll up to see what you wrote, i’ll just start at the bottom.

      You say that if we tell you what to think (we didn’t) then you think we should stop being fans. That’s hypocritical, dont you think? Like the guy who says if you want to exercise your right as an american to protest, you dont love america? It’s a statement that defies logic. The person that demands better from his team because they can isn’t a guy asking why mcdonalds doesn’t taste like peter luger. Some folks like mcdonalds. we just remember when this team was peter luger, and want to get back to those standards that made it an all time team, not an all time punchline.

      Secondly, you mention the commitment to rebuild through a draft. Garth Snow just concluded his 7th draft. From 7 draft classes, roughly 50something draft picks including 7 first round picks and 5 lottery picks, only SIX players drafted by snow are on this team. The one year neil smith drafted gave us macdonald and okposo. 1/3 of the talent is 1/7ths of the amounts of drafts. If you’re going to say he’s rebuilding, then lets see evidence of such. That waiver wire pickups almost equal his own draft picks is frankly scary.

      We gave everyone from the drafts of 2007-2011 a chance to develop. The only lottery pick from the 2011 draft not in the NHL belongs to the islanders. that’s a problem.

      RE: the kings GM that drafted hickey 4th? He got fired. It’s called accountability. Snow has none of that, so he’s cool wasting lottery picks in 2010, 2011, etc.

      re: gerrymandering. we weren’t talking physical lines, we were talking drawing crooked lines to justify moves that often make no sense. Your term partisan is very close to the idea, but isles fans actually will cross partisan lines is the move that the isles made disagree with the view they held prior to isles making a move.

      Regarding your view on personnel moves, we’re fans of what is versus what may be. Mayfield, pedan, and reinhart may be 3 amazing defensemen. Or they may be hickey, Niemi, and kudroc, who were all drafted in those same spots. Time will tell, but time tells me that there are tops 8 contracts to give defensemen, and hamonic has one locked up for 7 years. Who would you recommend letting go for Reinhart, Pulock, Mayfield, Pedan, Pokka, etc?

      Lastly, the word fan comes from fanatic. comparing fanatics to mental patients seems pretty fair. You may disagree, but webster’s doesn’t.

      As always, thanks for the read, and stick around as our podcast will be up and running soon!

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