The Islanders say 5,700 fans have already gotten tickets [Update: A little over a day later, it's now near 7,000] for the team's
John Tavares Coronation draft party at Nassau Coliseum June 26. I never did see an announced attendance for last year's party, but I'd say that three weeks before the draft, 5,700 is an impressive showing for something as ultimately anticlimactic as the announcement of names from a podium.
Tickets are free, sure, but to get them fans still have to go through TicketBastard, the lovely, customer-friendly, service-oriented, no-we-won't-spam-you-who-us?-never ticket cartel. That's no small consideration. (To try to remove one's self from that company's many mailing lists is to discover why junk email accounts exist.)
It's a funny flirtation with fire for the club to be promoting the draft party this much, considering the fan response after they traded down twice during last year's draft. That decision to collect extra picks and Josh Bailey looks sound in retrospect -- and I was OK with it, albeit shocked, at the time -- but this immediate reaction from Ken/Islanders Outsider that weekend perfectly captures the how and why that Islanders fans felt kicked in the stomach at that moment: We were invited to a party with the implicit promise of a prize, yet the prize delivered was something not really on the radar. Add to it the slow pace at which draft proceedings typically drag on ("We're at #5; no ... #7; no ... #9), and there was considerable twisting of the knife.
So anyway, this year's is the first overall pick, the ultimate prize -- how could things go wrong ... right?
Well, the clear majority of Islanders fans think John Tavares is the must-have. Moreover, while I haven't seen a poll this specific, I believe a clear majority of fans are salivating at each morning's breakfast over the thought of Tavares as an Islander. Whatever their strengths, a choice of Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene -- or ze gods forbid, a trade down -- will be met with disappointment.
Alas, that's the game you play when marketing and team strategy mix -- and the Islanders are ultimately right to both leverage the marketing concolation prize that comes with a last-place season and stick to their guns to make this pick a hockey decision with the roster's long-term interests in mind.
Besides, the party isn't only about the draft picks. There are giveaways, locker room tours, sales of game-used equipment and clearance fan gear and more. If you were going to the draft party, which game-used equipment would you like to pick up?