The New York Islanders Fascinate the Hell Out of Me

It’s hard to say the New York Islanders enjoyed a particularly happy 40th birthday in 2012, but since being founded in 1972 the franchise has established one of the most varied and interesting histories in the NHL.

Since William Shea used his silver tongue to bring a second major sports team to New York, the Islanders have won four Stanley Cups, made some of the modern eras most mind boggling signings and endured a slump in the toilet that would make the mutants from Futurama feel superior.

Now the team seem to be on the rise again – and it’s really hard not to love the Islanders a little.

Originally founded to stop the upstart WHA from moving in to the newly built Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, by the early 80’s Messrs Potvin, Bossy, Smith and co ensured the Islanders were THE team to beat.

They won four straight Stanley Cups and possessed one of the most impressive rosters in history. Only another great team knocked them off their perch, as Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers established their own dynasty in a decade almost entirely dominated by men in blue and orange.

The 1990s were less fair to the franchise (1993 aside), missing the post season for seven straight years from the shortened 94/95 season through to 2001 as ownership and management issues dogged the team.

Despite being purchased by Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar, and making a return to the play-offs in 2001, I’m not sure you’d describe the ‘Noughties’ as a decade the team will look back on with too much fondness either.

Whilst the new owners gave GM Mike Milbury the green light to spend, it’s hard to look back and feel the trade of Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen worked out well for the franchise, nor the signing of Alexei Yashin was a particularly highlight given that they are STILL paying off his contract for another three years following a buy out.

Yashin wasn’t the last aneurism inducing deal for the Islanders however. Whilst Milbury could be described as bold for taking Rick DiPietro 1st overall in 2000, Garth Snow’s decision to give the netminder a 15-year $67.5m contract is truly a thing of infamy.

Snow’s faith in the American puck stopper might have been rewarded had the Winthrop, MA native not suffered a series of injuries which ranged from the comical to the downright tragic. DiPietro went from the butt of so many jokes, to perhaps the most sympathetic sportsman ever due to his battle with the trainers table.

Buoyed by an underrated superstar in John Tavares and a band of ‘misfits’ others passed on the team seem to be on the rise again though. With a move to Brooklyn slated for 2015 and a crop of young stars beginning their NHL careers or on the horizon, the next great Islanders team might not be so far away.

It’s hard to put my finger on what it is exactly that made me come to love the Islanders in this way. It’s a chequered history, and one I’ve only really scratched the surface of here. But lord knows something about them really fascinates me, and hopes the next 40 years brings them a little bit of success.

Just not against the Avs.

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on February 6, 2013, in Hockey, NHL and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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