Missed Opportunities

A recent supermarket trip inspired today’s piece. One of your intrepid writers went shopping at a Uniondale supermarket wearing his gameday Islanders swag- an Islanders hat, and a hockey jersey. At least 3 employees shouted to me “Let’s go Islanders!” and 2 customers commented as well. None of them were white. Now, you may think that such an observation isn’t all that important, but have you ever looked at the crowd at the Nassau Coliseum? It’s a sea of white faces. We don’t know about you guys, but it was surprising to us that there was an obvious show of support from the African America and Latino contingents in Uniondale.

OK, so before we go on, we understand that some people will start to look at this piece through their own lens of racial interpretation and it may cause some discomfort. If anyone, after reading this, would suggest that the authors were racist, well, we don’t know what to tell you. Except that you’re fucking stupid, and anything we could tell you can never fix that.

Getting back to the story- you might suggest that this was a showing of civic pride, in that the Islanders, much like the supermarket, reside in Uniondale. The employees might all even live in Uniondale, furthering that thesis. But not every employee said such, nor is there any kind of endorsement from any supermarkets seen on the coliseum dasherboards- which is kind of surprising at this point considering who sponsors the team.

One of a sea of bad ownership decisions

One of a sea of bad ownership decisions

Anyway, the whole experience got us thinking what we usually think- the New York Islanders REALLY dropped the ball. And right in their own community. Below will be the rationale and reasoning for such, and really, it’s shameful.

Let us start off with the basics, which actually predates Wang. Why have the Islanders NOT sponsored a youth hockey league, or minimally team in the area? Wouldn’t it be sensible to have an Islander sponsored youth league? And if that’s too ambitious, why aren’t the Islanders directly involved in Uniondale schools in developing a hokey program within the district? We get that in the early days, the Islanders had trouble paying the bills. But in recent years- really since the 90’s- this team could have easily supported a hockey program, directly funding one for Uniondale schools. Despite Wang rhetoric, the team wasn’t losing money. After all, if he WAS going broke, then kudos to Kate Murray for seeing through the bluster and realizing that this was in fact a poor billionaire. And we also get that Uniondale schools may not seem like a traditional hockey hotbed, but somehow Long Beach has a hockey community, and it’s famous for being a beach. Ice on a beach?

What makes it even more egregious to us is that Charles Wang – and Sanjay Kumar – are minority owners, especially if you look at ownership around the NHL. Wang has made efforts to start a hockey program in China, but not on Long Island? In the same town in which his “major league” team plays? That’s sickening. Understand that this mean Charles Wang helps China learn to love hockey, while simultaneously flipping the bird to his sporting neighbors and their kids. And moreso, when the Islanders leave Uniondale for Brooklyn, they’re taking their school tax payments away from that district, which will only go to create more ill will.

But what would be the benefit of the Islanders actually giving back to their community? Uniondale has a tradition of supporting their sports teams. It’s also a more financially stable area than its neighbors in Roosevelt and Hempstead. It’s a community that would likely be receptive to a major sports franchise showing that it cares by sponsoring- and I mean ice time, sticks, gear, uniforms, maybe even some coaching as it would be competition level appropriate for Jack Capuano to coach at the high school level- and what would be the cost to the team financially? $20,000? We get that’s their cap on free agent signings, but why can’t it also be spent doing something positive where the team lives?

So, we’re talking cost- but what’s the benefit? Giving back to the local community for starters. Developing a love for hockey in an area that already displays pride in their sporting programs. Developing a non-traditional fan base that actually likes buying and wearing sporting gear as much as any other fan. Making a connection and creating civic pride in an area like Uniondale, which can surely use something to help it stand out among communities without downtowns on Long Island. Especially considering that they are building “Twin Rinks” about a mile away at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

Or Long Island

Or Long Island

Again, just to reiterate, the Islanders have started a hockey program in China, and not in Uniondale. How many Chinese players are in the NHL? And how many African American players are in the NHL? Looking at the Islanders roster now and in recent years, you may have noticed that the Islanders have employed Kevin Weekes and Kyle Okposo- why aren’t these the players making that bridge into the local community. Especially considering the team has had Rob Schremp reading books to kids in elementary schools, then trying to pick up their teachers afterwards. By the way, that’s not conjecture- one of the authors was dating one of those teachers he swung at that ended up about as well as his NHL career- miserable. And we can post pictures to prove it.

Even if you aren’t going to support a sports program in your local community, what harm would it be to give out free tickets to Uniondale or Hempstead schools and their families? It’s not like there aren’t 3,000 empty seats on a nightly basis. And not just a one night thing. Sometimes players sponsor areas- I think there were Yashin’s kids after Alexei was given that absurd contract that he couldn’t live up to- so why can’t Josh Bailey actually do something positive with that disgusting overpayment and buy 50 seats for every home game and hand them out in Uniondale. In the 100’s?

In all, this is a colossal ball drop by the Islanders, especially magnified under the clownish ownership of Charles Wang.

 

And would the community in Uniondale want this? Why not ask them?

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Also, wouldn’t it be great to see all of those Rangers or Flyers or Bruins or just about any other team’s fans that turn the Coliseum into an extra home game a few times a year walk into the Coli and just shut the hell up because…well, there are African Americans in the building! And god knows, there’s not much more that makes a white person uncomfortable than having to sit near black people. Showing their Islander pride by wearing Islander jerseys. Folks, that would certainly NOT be more of the same.

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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

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  1. Matt Landers says:

    Snow hasnt done that bad of a job, a few moves here and there in the off season and this team will be a playoff team again.

    First: Dump Strait and Carkner in the minors. Strait has certainly improved his game since coming over but he’s just a waste of a roster spot.

    Secondly: Call up Strome and Reinhart.

    Those two moves right there gives the Isles 10 Forwards.
    Tavares-Okposo-Nielsen-Bailey-Nelson-Grabner-Clutterbuck-Martin-McDonald and Strome.

    Defensively that gives the Isles 4: Visnovsky-Hamonic-Reinhart and Hickey.

    Next is resign the following RFA’s: Donovan-Dehaan-Cizikis and Poulin.

    Thats 11 For, 6 Def and 1 Goal.

    Now UFA signings in the offseason: Dan Girardi (Overpay him if you have to just get him in here).

    Bring in a goalie, I would like to see them give Brian Elliott a chance. Two year deal and give him a chance to be a number one starter.

    Next they just need a Left Winger and a Center. There are a few options out there, Milan Michalek, Dany Heatley and Mike Cammalleri are all having down years and will be looking to rebound.

    As centers I would look at Dave Bolland or David Legwand.

    It sounds like a lot but its what, a couple recalls, a couple dumps. Resign a few RFA’s and pick up some UFA’S. They have the cap space to over pay. I’m not too worried as an Islander fan.

    • MattandDan says:

      Matt,

      A few things. The playoff team you refer to lost in the first round. that shouldn’t be the goal. That’s all Milbury ever accomplished. And thus far, Snow hasn’t even been as successful as Milbury.

      Secondly, you pretty much endorse returning a last place team with the additions of 4 outside players. Since when has Snow acquired a player that was competitive and demanding salary? Girardi is out due to such. The other players you name are Snow options, as they are all past their prime.

      The Strome and Reinhart moves, we agree with. But we disagree with bringing back a last place roster, especially when Neilsen and Okposo are having career seasons which they aren’t likely to repeat. After all, KO started scoring when Vanek arrived. Probably more causation than correlation.

  2. Chris Martin says:

    To matt landers…..”Snow hasnt done that bad of a job”….With that sentence alone, you have accepted the fate that the isles are a laughingstock and embarrassment, and nothing can get better. Garth Snow is the poorest excuse for a GM, and his inability to put a team together, in any other sector of business, would be criminal. If anyone were paying attention, or cared, the NY Islanders would be investigated by the attorney general’s office and the Interstate Commerce Commission.
    Do you have any idea the amount of $$ the Islanders take in on a yearly basis? Google forbes.com and search NHL teams net worth. And yet the product on the ice is still in the bottom 5 of the league.
    Did you know that the coyotes, Wild and devils have all had bankruptcy issues, and yet they have still signed top players during that period? Snow’s “big” off season moves resulted in one being waived (bouchard) and then both (bouchard and regin) being traded for a 4th round pick. Additionally, he traded a lottery pick….yes a lottery pick, for a 4th line checker. Doesnt that get you angry? Do you understand the value of the asset he gave away? BTW, look at Nino ‘s stats since being traded. Funny how productive you can be when you are not on a line centered by another Snow acquisition…Marty Reasoner!!
    What does it say when a guy like vanek, who plays with one of the top centers on the planet, says he would rather be in Minnesota? When did Minnesota become a perennial contender for the cup? The issue is the Islander office management, like the food venders and parking lot attendants, are LAZY, and quite frankly, rather stupid, and are mismanaging this club into the ground.
    What are islander fans like you going to do when JT realizes he will forever be in the cellar, waives his no trade clause and asks to be moved?
    Are you going to cheer when we lose 12 in a row but beat the rangers in the garden? Is that how you define success?
    Unfortunately, you suffer from a disease that afflicts a lot of violent crime victims, usually kidnapping, etc, where you identify with the perpetrator and begin to feel sorry for him.
    You and all of us that drop hundreds of dollars EVERY NIGHT should be demanding Snow’s head.
    We deserve better….
    CWM