The 2009 NHL Draft is tonight. At 7:10PM Eastern standard time Garth Snow will finally walk to the podium and thank the City of Montreal for its hospitality. He will acknowledge the Islander fans "at our draft party" who will be 20 thousand strong at Nassau Coliseum. Snow will then thank Gary Bettman and say what an honor it is to have the first overall selection in the draft and thank all of the top prospects.
The next words out of his mouth had better be -
"The New York Islanders are proud to select with the first overall selection.. From the London Knights of the OHL, John Tavares."
Unless you are an Islander fan you simply do not understand.
Way back on draft lottery day, every Islander fan expected some other team's logo to come out of the envelope that contained the owner of the first pick.
As fans, we all let out a collective YEAHH!! As the shock and happiness came over us like a late 3rd period tying goal.
We all thought in our heads were getting the next great player! A can't miss superstar sniper than the Canadian press and all hockey publications have been clamoring over since he was FOURTEEN.
Then reality came over us like a wave enveloping The Wizard on "Deadliest Catch."
What if they screw this up?
Non Islander fans reading this may wonder what it is that I am talking about. Non Islander fans have not been through what we have. As bad as it has ever been for the team you pull for, It is never as bad as being an Islander fan for the past 15 years.
Non Islander fans make the grave mistake that there are no Islander fans, the base isn't there because no one comes to the games.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Islanders are expecting over 20,000 fans to come to the draft party at the coliseum ON A FRIDAY NIGHT!
Any time there has been a playoff series in the last 15 years, the Nassau Coliseum has rocked like the old days even if the odds were hopeless against heavily favored top seeds like Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Ottawa.
Anyone who witnessed the last sliver of success the Islanders had in the playoffs, the 2003 7 game series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The place was electric - jammed full of Islander fans some think do not exist willing the team to victory in game number 6.
Now back to the "Or Else" I wrote above.
The Canadian media has more than done its part. They have managed to convince some people that John Tavares isn't all they said he was for the last 5 years.
They have even gone so far as to compare Tavares to Alexander Daigle.
Canada is sick of its superstars playing on what is conceived to be "their teams." Canada has seen most of its favorite sons of the last 30 years playing for Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Long Island, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, New York, Detroit, Chicago, and anywhere else but Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.
Edmonton is the exception, but they had to break up their dynasty for financial reasons or they may have just ended their run of winning The Stanley Cup.
The Islander fans who have been watching Tavares' career the last little while know the truth. This kid is the real deal. While his stock is not that of Sydney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin or Ecgeni Malkin, would the stock of Vinny Lecavialer be that bad? How about the next Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsuik?
As good as a prospect as Victor Hedman is, as he has been compared to Zdeno Chara in the media in reality he probably has more in common with Kenny Jonsson than Zdeno Chara.
Matt Duchene is a great prospect. The media has compared him to Bryan Trottier and get this.. Steve Yzerman.
All of the negative media that has headed John Tavares' way over the last 12 months is simply laughable and most can see right through it.
We want a guy we can go buy his jersey and not get laughed at.
We want a guy that people will pay to see play hockey.
We want a guy that every arena he plays in, people will watch him and be interested in him.
We want a guy that people will line up for his autograph, no matter where he is.
We want a guy that when you pull his hockey card out of a pack, you don't throw it in the common box.
The scout ranking, NHL GM's, TSN, The Hockey News, Don Cherry and just about everyone agrees that John Tavares should go number one.
If Garth Snow doesn't agree, the Coliseum may burn.
I have heard more fans tell me in comments, conversations, e mail, message boards, responses on this blog and others that if the Islanders do not select Tavares then they are finished with the Islanders.
This is not the "oh if they lose to the Rangers I am done" this is the real deal. I have heard them say they wont watch hockey again, throw their jerseys in the trash and wash their hands of this team once and for all.
This time I believe some of them.
Garth Snow can send 20 thousand of his fans home deliriously happy by simpky doing what he should, or he can burn them again trying to reinvent the wheel once more.
Time will tell and at 7:10 PM tonight, The 2009 Islanders Draft Party will either be just that.. a party or a nightmare.