As Islander fans, we find ourselves feeling an emotion we haven't felt since 2001...hope. But not that "I think we might have a decent year" hope that fans of almost all professional sports teams feel at the beginning of the season. No, this hope that we feel now is that anxious excitement that can only come from years of suffering through mediocrity. It's that rush you get every game day because you can't wait to see your team take that next step to proving that they are finally back. It's that giddy optimism you get every time they win and you think to yourself, "this could be our year!!"
Conversely, hope like this can also bring on impossible-to-reach expectations. Already on this site we have seen an undercurrent in comments after a loss that suggests that the team sucks, that we'll never be a contender, that this whole rebuild idea was a failure. Hey, it's natural, we're Islander fans.
Personally, I'm an optimist, and have always found enjoyment in watching the Islanders, even in our worst years. I am now more excited than ever watching this young group come together; a group that offers promise, not just to sneak into the playoffs this year, but one that will seriously compete for years to come. My point here is I think it's finally time we as a fan base eliminate our gloomy, fatalist outlook. Games like last night's poor showing and the ho-hum home opener are going to happen. Every team has those games. The Yankees have those games. The Patriots and Red Wings have those games. They are no longer indicative of a wayward franchise. They are just regular occurrences in an 82 game season. You say, "man they sucked tonight," and you move on, anxiously looking forward to the next one.
Yes, I know it's been a long hard road for us as fans. We have had some of the worst luck of any franchise in professional sports. We want so badly to see them win every night so we can definitively say once and for all that the Islanders are back. It kills us when we see a performance that reminds us of the pathetic teams we've had to endure in years past. But this season is about so much more than just one poor showing, or one dominant effort. It's about finally getting to watch a team that will compete for an entire season; one that offers us that nervous optimism that every game takes us one step closer. Losses are going to happen. Losing streaks are going to happen (though we hope they are short). For the first time in a long time though, it seems that the good is going to outweigh the bad. I plan on savoring that, and rather than agonizing over every loss and overly dissecting every poor play, this Islander fan thinks the best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy the ride.