Friday, August 15, 2008
Those Other Teams Pt. 2: NY Islanders
When it came to the draft itself, the Islanders have had some success, having drafted some very good prospects. But they rarely benefited as most of them prospered elsewhere due to a trade - along with the aforementioned players there was Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe, Wade Redden, Eric Brewer, among others. It just kills you as a fan of the Islanders and it slays the rest of your rivals with chuckles, smirks, chortles, and ever-present "heh." Moreso when you consider the returns on some of these deals.
Even when a player stuck around or got signed a ridiculous deal - hello, Miroslav Satan! - to play on Long Island in what they call an arena, who would be the coach? Al Arbour remains as the last bench boss to have lasted at least 5 years in the same position, and that was done back before 1995. Sure, the Devils have had a revolving door at coach; but the franchise (and its players) had a set team philosophy and remained successful. Each coach for the Islanders had their own take on the team, mostly having to answer to "Mad Mike" most of the time until the last few years, and so there wasn't much of a consistent style or overriding philosophy. Since Arbour, the most any coach has lasted at Nassau has been 2 seasons: Butch Goring, Peter Laviolette, and Ted Nolan, you all earn a no-prize for that feat. Laviolette was the only one to have had the team make the playoffs in both years, but he jumped to Carolina and eventually took them to a Cup. So much for Islanders management wanting to keep him.
But so what? They had an aloof GM, hindsight kicked the franchise in the face for over a decade, they've had some colorful record with prospects, and a lot coaches. Nice of you to give us that extended aside, great blast from the past, but really, so what? Well, because of all that -as funny as it could be/still is (seriously, the Yashin deal) - it's quite sad. As Devils fans, we've experienced great seasons on a regular basis - such to the point where we tend to expect deep runs into the playoffs every year. For an Islander fan, I would imagine making the playoffs consistently would be an amazing feat. But the once-shining franchise is now a orange-and-blue mess that they've been trying to clean up for the last 15 years. They're re-building yet again. They're looking to youth yet again. They're hoping to still be "players" in February and early March yet again. When you seriously think about it, it's just sad to watch. Even if they sweep the Devils, should they pick in the top 10 again, what would it all really mean? Not a whole lot.
For these extended reasons, I really can't hate the Islanders. I just pity them. I can't say their fans are particularly known for their arrogance (see: Toronto, Montreal) or generally being jerks (see: Philadelphia, Rangers). I just feel bad for them. Do I want the Devils to beat them? Of course! But it doesn't cause the same thrill of getting over one of your hated rivals. Even when the Rangers were especially bad, it was still great to see New Jersey beat them. For the Islanders, it's just not the same. How their franchise has rotted through poor decisions plays a big role in that.
"Sure, the Devils have had a revolving door at coach; but the franchise (and its players) had a set team philosophy and remained successful."
That's the big difference, the Devils fire coaches and the Devils are still a strong team. It's because the franchise has a direction - namely in our "idiot GM." The Islanders don't have any direction, so they keep changing the man behind the bench and hoping he sticks. And so that's a reason why they still suck.