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?
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.
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.
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.
About the Author: We are two long time hockey fans who certainly have our own opinions and points of view. Feel free to share yours. Follow on twitter @joshbarely