Islander Is Hockey: It's not for sissies!
By now, some of the shock of Scott Gordon's firing has worn off for most Islander fans. It wasn't bad enough that we were enduring this awful losing streak. We then had to cope with the shock of Gordon's sacking with which many of us disagreed and the absolute lampoonery of the team by the legions of Islander haters out there.
This included an absolutely moronic blogpost by Ken Campbell of THN in which he proved that (1) he hates the Islanders and (2) he knows nothing about them. In fairness to Ken, he is an equal opportunity hater. He made it very clear in his post that he has equal contempt for the Maple Leafs. Of course, all of these posts by "professional" writers only encouraged those Islander hating legions to an even greater frenzy.
On balance, the move was well intentioned, but misguided. The stated objective of getting players like Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau to return to the killer form they showed at the start of the season was a good one, but it might just as easily backfire in the short term while lending credence to the "Islander franchise is a circus" propaganda that prevails anytime most journalists and fans discuss the team.
For all the biased and distorted "reporting" of the Gordon firing, there is one thing that even Islander hater Campbell got right: the firing is unlikely to change much. The Islanders just do not have the horses to absorb lengthy injuries to five key players and still contend.
I know some folks were upset that I waved the white flag after the Kings game (though before the firing), but consider this. This team is six points behind its' pace at 17 games last year--and that was after a truly dreadful start to last season. This team finished with just under a point a game last season and I hardly need to add that Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo, Andy MacDonald, Rob Schremp, and last year's Milan Jurcina--Andy Sutton were playing just about all of the 82 games with the exception of Sutton who was traded at the deadline.
Even if we kept last year's pace for the remainder of the season, we would finish at 75 points which would have put us in pole position for third overall pick just one point ahead of Toronto in last year's standings. Given all of the losses to injury, however, it is more reasonable to suppose that the Isles will not be able to keep that pace. My guess is that the Isles will finish with significantly less than 75 points and will be neck and neck with the Oilers for the #1 overall pick.
And, of course, the great unwashed resume their chorus: "team is a...circus, joke, clown act," and Islander fans cringe with embarrassment. They are all missing the big picture.
Perhaps the cream and certainly the bulk of the Islander talent pool, with a few notable exceptions, has yet to spend a season with the team. Even just looking at likely additions next year, the team will likely add Nino, Hamonic, and De Haan and possibly Petrov and some of the Bridgeport elite. A host of other talented players will move up in the following 2-3 years. And then there is the draft.
The kind of finish the Isles are likely to have this year will put them in position to grab the #1 overall or perhaps the #2. Either way, they will have a good chance to draft Adam Larsson who could become the most talented defenseman since The Captain. Add him to the list noted above, and the Islanders become a legitimate contender next year.
Don't let the Islander-hating legion of doom fool you. This team's future is bright.