Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Lost Season: Thoughts of a Die Hard Islander Fan

So here we sit three games later from my last column proclaiming that these next three games were going to go a long way in determining whether the Islanders would be relevant this season or just another joke of a season where the team says all of the right things and does all of the wrong things.

You can talk about injuries all you want but the team cannot use that as an excuse this time.

So why are the Islanders so horrible?

We can start with coaching. Every analyst and writer said this was the the year the Islanders were going to make that big step to being relevant. What they have done is taken a huge step back.

Who gets the blame his time? All experts believe the Islanders have the tools to compete so the finger of doom must point directly at Jack Capuano. It is time for Jack to go as the losses pile up and the Islanders become more of a laughing stock than they already are. The problem is firing Capuano will be like a punch line in the channels of the NHL media. I can see the TSN report now. "Leafs.. Rangers.. Canadiens.. Canucks... Jets... Red Wings oh and haha.. the Islanders fired another coach. Lets get back to the Leafs.. The Rangers.." etc and so on and so forth.

We can all see the headlines like they are already written. We can see the bottom line coming like a headlight on a black highway at night.

You cannot fire the players. They tried that already by making an example out of Blake Comeau sending him packing. The only solution is to clean house upstairs. The problem is does anyone believe that Charles Wang will fire Garth Snow, Jack Capuano and his entire upper management team for basically doing nothing. Sure they try, but they have no credibility with any established players or agents. When your a player and Garth Snow calls you and says "hey the Islanders are interested in bringing you in" I wonder if any player agent takes him seriously or entertains the thought at all.

It is time to fire Snow and his entire staff including the coach and all of his assistants. Charles Wang needs to do something drastic and bring in a veteran GM with a pedigree of winning. Bring in a coach who has won something at the NHL level. Bring in a general manager with years of experience. Charles Wang has said he will spend money to make the Islanders better. If that is true then the time has come to spend that money on upper management and coaching. Enough of the AHL never was's trying to find another Peter Laviolette. Its not going to happen.

The Islanders are an absolute embarrassment of an organization and it really pains me to admit that but I cannot condone what is going on here any longer. I love the Islanders. I love their history. That history has to mean something and if it does, Charles Wang will do something before its to late. Screw the arena and focus on making the on ice product the best it can be by putting people in charge that have a background and success at this level.

I was one of the guys watching the Islanders get pounded in the 1990's by the original Winnipeg Jets 8-1 being one of about 1,500 people in attendance. I am one of the guys who sits in the stands as the Islanders blew a 5-1 lead against the expansion Ottawa Senators and lose 6-5 against a team that could beat absolutely no one. I was a guy who chose to saw the good in the 15 year contract to Rick Dipietro. I was a guy who chose to look at whatever positive I could out of Mike Milbury's bone headed trades. I was also one of the guys sitting in the stands wondering how the Islanders could play 20 games and win only one in 2010.

I have reached the end of my rope.

Now I'm sitting here questioning why I am still a fan of the organization. I have been one of the biggest Islander apologists out there and even I have reached a point of throwing my hands up and saying "why do I do this to myself?" There is no joy in rooting for the Islanders any more. Admitting your a fan of the team always is met with a snicker or a look of sympathy from a fan of any other NHL team.

When you reach that point as a fan which many other Islander fans have already reached then what is there to do any more? Hope for a miracle? As we all know as Islander fans there are no more miracles left. Despite the once a decade success the Islander have enjoyed since their days of dominance in the early 80's the only thing Islander fans can depend on is disappointment and misery.

When will the suffering end?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New York Islanders: Its Time to Make a Statement

Injuries, injuries, injuries.

Every team has them. Its time to stop with the excuses. Now is the time for the Islanders to do something with their 2011-12 season. Right now. Tonight against our higher profile, richer, more glamorous and big spending neighbors in Madison Square Garden. This is not just another game against the Rangers. The Rangers themselves are under the cameras of HBO's outstanding "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic" along with the Orange Crud.. excuse me the Philadelphia Flyers. A game which by all rights should be Islanders vs. Rangers in Yankee Stadium, but that is another column for another day.

The Islanders have floundered along long enough with people, writers and fans making excuse after excuse of why the team still flounders at the bottom of the NHL standings every year and HBO will be sure to capture at least a part of the Rich Man Poor Man mini story arc sure to be showcased in episode 3 of the HBO's popular mini-series.

The time has come for the young talented Islanders to make the kind of statement they did last year against the Penguins and the last part of the season. The Islanders started off this season in the same fashion as last season with early success followed by a long poor stretch. Before all of the Penguin fans jump all over me for condoning the Islanders so called goonery from last seasons fight filled affair with the Penguins, I do not mean the Islanders should emulate the Thunder Bay Bombers from "Youngblood" and simply take the Rangers apart with their fists.

What I mean is the Islanders have to play solid hockey and come away with two points on Garden Ice in front of HBO's cameras. The Rangers are enjoying a fine season with their newest high priced free agent for once being exactly what they needed to be successful in Brad Richards.

If the Islanders want to make something of their season this year then go out and beat the Rangers in front of HBO on their home ice and steal just a bit of the spotlight from them. The Islanders have been playing well and its time for the team to take it to the next level and what better way to make a statement for your own confidence than to take it to your fiercest rival in front of their own crowd when the spotlight is brightest?

If not, they can go back to being cellar dwellers and hope the next top five pick can be the one that pushes them to respectability.

They have two opportunities to do so tonight and on December 26th both at the Garden against the Rangers with a home game against the Canadian version of the Rangers in the equally high profile Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

Three games that could very well define this season for the Islanders or in turn break down whatever chance this team has to be any assemblance of successful. It is all in their hands as the Islanders have the ability to do it, but will they? Tune in tonight at seven o' clock and find out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New York Islanders: Two Steps Forward and Two Steps Back

The Islanders are on a bit of a merry go round right now.

After ending their annual horrid stretch of futility, the team gave everyone a bit of hope by stringing together some solid performances and getting some points and managed to get to within five points of eighth place in the East.

Enter Pittsburgh.

The Islanders played well enough in the first jumping out to a 2-0 lead before folding like an accordion in losing 6-3.

Last night against Montreal, they managed to make it competitive coming back from 3-1 down before losing 5-3.

The most troubling element of these losses was the play of Al Montoya who for the first time does not look so good.

The Islanders will not put together the kind of streak they need unless for the first time this season they can all manage to achieve some level of consistency as a group. The talent is int he locker room but in these losses it always seems like one aspect of the team whether it be offense, defense or goaltending fails in grand fashion.

Evgeni Nabokov will probably get the green light on Thursday against the Dallas Stars and hopefully he can rebound from his sore hamstring and give the Islanders some stability in the crease.

It seems like the Islanders go well enough during a game until something happens in game that completely derails the team, whether it be a blown call a bad goal against or a failed power play.

This young team has the talent to compete every night the problem is they are failing to compete every night because of one problem or another. Jack Capuano and company have to feel like they are trying to plug a leaky dam with and are running out of fingers.

The Islanders are still capable of salvaging this season, hopefully they can develop some consistency before the whole damn gives way.