As a young, and as yet, a still undermanned Islanders team heads west in the midst of a 7-game losing streak, it seemed to me a time to consider where we have been, where we are and where we are going...and what the obstacles seem to be for an impatient and interesting fan base known to some as Islander Country.
As for the team, in truth, it has been said by many over and over again. In year 3 of a clear rebuild, the young core we are counting on show the telltale signs of youth...inconsistency. We know that JT, KO, Franz, and JB will be part of this slow process, but will Schremp? Grabner" Comeau? Moulson? This is a year for questions to be answered, while other even younger players like CdH and Travis H to continue their development. Even our goalie situation reeks of passing time until we pass the torch. None of this is totally unexpected, so, despite the hot start, why is the fan base in such a furor?
Well for one, the good start made everyone forget that significant injuries to two of our best three players could not but help but take its toll (as it would on any team). Many (Wiz??) had to play too many minutes in a role that they are not suited for nor signed for. Second, we forgot what can be expected from very very young players still learning how to manage in a grueling NHL. Third, we just aren't that deep yet. Yes, we have a number of players who may (or may not) be part of the future, but we (and management) are still learning about them. It is only when our true core grows up, the additional young prove to be part of that core or pretenders, and our needs are thus clear, can and should this team venture into the dangerous waters of Free Agency...where more teams have been burned than been successful. But we know this right? Many have spoken out in support of this plan, right? Then why the hysteria?
I would argue that there are two interconnected reasons. First, many continue to connect the dots all the way to '93 and talk about a 17-year old rebuild. An idea, which is more boring than it is ridiculous. In this regard some blame CW for not spending money...ignoring the money that he has spent and the willingness in the past he has shown (albeit ill-advised at times) to spend money to get/keep players he wanted. Maybe he has learned that there is a time and place and spending money alone rarely leads to championships.
But second, and I believe most important, has been the advent of the blog. While some (LHH) have been responsible and reasonable in content, attitude, and even reader-to-reader discourse, others have been nothing short of incendiary. On these other sites, blogs are written as though the writer has absolute knowledge. Opinions masquerade as facts and personal agendas are obvious though never spoken about. And, as a result, readers are worked up into a frenzy, manipulated for personal gain, with little if any grounding...for that the reader must look elsewhere. The result is the creation of a loud hysterical portion of the fan base calling for peoples jobs, ranting for a rampage of Milburyesque trades or signings to occur, and venemous and at times personal/racist attacks on CW.
I personally reject this outlandish approach to "journalism." I find it frustrating and silly. As a fan I want to have my opinion, know the limits of my knowledge, have some faith, enjoy the development of this team, and hope for a better tomorrow. This is why I enjoy the civil discourse of LHH, and why I still enjoy Islanders hockey in spite of the recent events. Maybe I am too hopeful. Maybe I want to believe in the rebuild too much. I don't know. But, I do know that being a fan should not mean being forever on the edge of the cliff. Let's go Islanders!