An Open Letter to the NHL Community from a Proud Islanders Fan

LHH Editor's Note: It's summer, baby. 'Tis the season for FanPosts like these.

Scapegoating (per Wikipedia): "Process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group; the amount of blame being unwarranted."

Dear Fellow NHL Enthusiast:

I’ve been an Islanders’ fan since the summer of 1983. In that time, I’ve endured a lot: loss of the Cup to Gretzky’s Oilers (after having missed the four straight championships); essentially the defection of such stars as Pat LaFontaine and Brent Sutter; the dismantling of the ’93 team, including trading Pierre Turgeon for a past-his-prime Kirk Muller (who wouldn’t even report); Fishsticks; Mike Milbury; not just bad ownerships, but a criminal one in John Spano; Mike Milbury; an arena that was a relic 15 years ago; the systematic trading-away of such talent as Roberto Luongo, Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, Ollie Jokinen, the 2nd overall pick in 2001 (Jason Spezza), essentially the 1st overall pick in 2000 (DiPietro over Heatley and Gaborik), Tim Connolly, Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, 48 goal scorer Ziggy Palffy; almost 20 years since our last playoff series victory; and Mike Milbury.  That’s a lot for we fans to take. So, when you vilify our team, you should know that you’re preaching to the choir. You don’t know nearly as much of the hardship, as we do.

But there is something you probably don’t realize. 

All of the nastiness, the utter disrespect, the lazy article writing, the scapegoating…the Isles franchise has experienced this before, back in the 70s, when we were a fledgling start-up existing in the shadow of Manhattan’s Original Six New York Rangers and their media machine.  The New York Islanders were a terrible joke, but we began compiling talent.  Lots of talent: Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, et al.  But even that talent wasn’t enough to win one Stanley Cup, much less four in a row.

Any experienced hockey fan knows that talent, alone, does not win the Stanley Cup.  There must be hardship.  As evidenced by that championship Isles team, from the stars to the role players, guys must be not only willing, but eager, to spill blood for each other, to run through the proverbial wall, to win for the guy next to him, to be a family.  Fat contracts don’t accomplish that.  Neither does being the latest media darling.  You know what helped to build the dynastic Islanders?  

All of the nastiness, the utter disrespect, the lazy article writing, and the scapegoating.

Which brings me back to the current team.  On February 11th 2011, in a game versus the Penguins, these Islanders finally had enough.  The unwarranted disprespect wasn’t just from other hockey fans and writers, and it wasn’t just from the other teams.  The refs and the "powers that be" were allowing other teams to take liberties with our beloved Islanders.  It had become a mob rules field day, whereby players would run the likes of John Tavares with little or no consequence.  Someone had to step up and, as with any tight team, the entire team stepped up.  If it had been the Flyers, Bruins, or even the Lightning fighting back, it would have been viewed as what it was: old-time hockey where a group of young players stood up for itself and became a team.  However, on cue, the greater hockey community chose not to see it that way for one simple reason: it was the scapegoat New York Islanders who had done it.  Gasp! 

When you, the hockey fan, write your childish comments like a good little lemming; and when you, the sports journalist, write your lazy, uninspiring, uninformed articles; know that you are playing your part to distinction.  You are helping to shape this very young, very talented hockey club into a future champion.  You are doing what was done a few decades ago, which is precisely what my team needs now to take the next step.

Because, you see, talent and competitiveness may be vital ingredients to a contending team, but when you add a generous helping of pissed off, you’re creating a Champion who is going to come into your building and hand your butt to you.

So, as a fan who genuinely loves the New York Islanders, thank you for that.  Thank you so much.  And keep up the good work!



--A Patient Isles’ Fan

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>

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