"Thanks for the help, ladies. We'll have this place cleaned up in no time." (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
First, a pair of caveats:
1. No, I don't really want the Islanders contracted, so calm the hell down.
2. The best thing we can do is to heed the sage words of Pauly C, who said, "who gives a [expletive] what this douche says?" But this thing has been sticking in my craw for about 24 hours, so I'll hit that point eventually. But not now.
OK, you win. Contract the Islanders.
Cut them out of the NHL like a tumor. Make them disappear. Shut 'em down, have a dispersal draft and spread their players across the other clubs. Either move the Capitals up or move the Bruins down into the Atlantic Division. And never have to look at, speak of or think about the New York Islanders ever again.
And the National Hockey League, free of one of its heaviest anchors and flush with more revenue to spread around the remaining clubs, would be free to ascend to the heavens and take its rightful place as America's New National Pastime.
Right? I mean, that's probably what would happen. Let's examine some other events that would most likely occur if the Islanders are contracted:
Nassau County Can Move On With Its, Um, Life
Without the Islanders as its main tenant, and with no reason for an urgent replacement, dates at Nassau Coliseum dwindle until the building is locked up and eventually torn down. Maybe something goes up in the empty lot in the heart of one of the wealthiest counties in the country, or maybe it doesn't. But with the "will they stay or will they go" question effectively answered, the current political leadership of Nassau, who continued the longstanding tradition of their forebears by turning a shining suburban oasis into a staid, stale, 7-million person garage sale of a place, happily get taken off the hook.
No more talking points declarations in Newsday, no more bitter Twitter bombs from crazy fans who probably didn't vote for them anyway, no more selling fake optimism in the face of budget crises and unemployment. The Islanders are gone, so delete any and all mentions of them from your Outlook Calendar. Good job.
Some Other NHL Team Takes the Islanders Place At the Bottom of the Food Chain
Thank god, the Islanders are gone. They were just stinking up the place anyway. I mean, how could a team be that bad for that long?
Guess what - it will happen again to someone else. One minute, your team is a bounce or two from a championship. The next minute, you're arguing over which fourth line goon to sign and how much ice time he's going to get next year because he's the only free agent your team might bring in that summer. Time between those two minutes: 20 years.
One bad owner begets another and another and so on. You think your team's GM is a macho, megalomaniac knucklehead moron? Doesn't matter. If the owner likes him (or doesn't care one way or the other), he'll keep his job and make mistake after mistake after mistake until there's nothing left. Imagine this continuing for two decades. Don't think it can? That's impossible? No, it isn't. I watched it happen. And I guarantee it will happen again.
Losing seasons pile up quickly. If the people responsible for the first are incapable of stopping the next one from happening, years of loses can pass in the blink of an eye.
Some Team is Going to Go Off the Rails in a Big Way and It's Going to Take Years to Get it Back on Track
After years of mismanagement, a current bottom-feeder is ready to turn things around with a long-term rebuild. During the process of drafting, evaluating, drafting, evaluating, drafting, evaluating, eventually shedding dead weight, retaining assets and augmenting with outside help, no one will be happy. If it takes more than three seasons to show life, the franchise will be considered too far gone and will be named the next dead team walking. If that team is based in the United States, subtract two years from this equation.
An Owner, Who Has More Money Than Jesus Christ, Will Turn Into a Penny-Pinching Miser
Maybe he's bleeding cash and needs to "restructure" the team or maybe he just got bored. He'll save dough while his team sinks to the bottom of the canal like an old boot. And with any luck, a new white knight will show up and save the day. Until he's short on funds, too, and the whole thing starts over.
Charles Wang Will Remain a Billionaire
He's rich now and he'll stay rich if the NHL takes his team away. He may wonder why he ever bothered.
James Dolan Will Save Money
He won't have to pay several million dollars to broadcast Islanders games on MSG+57 (UHF channel 78 on your rabbit ears). And he won't have to pay someone to cover the team for Newsday. Dolan will probably use those savings to finally bring 43-year-old Kobe Bryant to the Knicks in 2022.
A New Convenient Punchline Will be Discovered By Sportswriters
There are print and web deadlines to be met and these zingers can't write themselves without a go-to shorthand punching bag for "bad team no one likes." Another team will take the Islanders' place as the "be thankful this isn't your team" team.
An Arena Will Need to Be Replaced and If It Isn't, a Team May Have to Move
"Clearly, this building is inadequate for the modern sports team. It has [insert antiquated structure or attribute here] and needs [insert modern amenity or dimensions here] to ice a competitive team. I'm afraid if we can't finalize plans for a new arena at the current location, the team will have to begin exploring all possible solutions including relocation."
Sound familiar? You've heard it before and will hear it again.
History Books Get Closed
The Islanders take their place with the Montreal Maroons, New York Americans and original Ottawa Senators as ghosts of the NHL's history books. Eventually they become another, "Huh...really? I had no idea" team. At least the names of the best-of-the-best are still etched on the Stanley Cup.
But because the Islanders aren't a current team, the Nystrom goal video and pictures of Islanders hoisting the Cup get removed from all NHL and playoff media forever. Records and accomplishments get left behind and sit without context or a place in history for eternity. The other fan favorites and villains, that add color and depth to the 40-year history of a franchise, get erased wholesale. That cup-of-coffee player that tossed you a puck at a game when you were seven? He doesn't exist anywhere but in your memory now. Trying to explain the significance of this event will fall of deaf ears and rolled eyes.
Rangers Fans Will Pretend That Games Against the Islanders Didn't Matter At the End Because They Were a Bad Team
They will be liars.
The Next Round of CBA Negotiations Will Bring a New Set of Solutions
The game is dying and needs to be fixed. Player salaries are out of control, the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting wider and neither the league nor the players are giving an inch.
How about some expansion teams?
Islanders Fans Will Scatter to the Winds, Probably with a Sigh of Relief
Some will follow new teams, some will swear off hockey forever (/raises hand). The void left by the lack of a team will have to be filled with something, Top choices include: anger, depression, exploration and resignation. Blame will be spread to hundreds of culprits. Whatever they choose, a new stage will have begun.
I honestly have no idea what will happen to all Islanders fans. Personally, I'd quit hockey entirely. I've spent too much energy, time, breath and money on this team to take up another. Seeing players who used to be Islanders all playing elsewhere because there are no more Islanders would be too painful. Reading articles about how contracting them was the right course of action would be sickening.
The only thing that I can think of right now that would give me pleasure in the face of an Islanders contraction would be when all of the above happens to another team somewhere. And someone somewhere figures out that eliminating one (or two, or four) bad teams doesn't fix a sport or a system. There are always going to be spenders and non-spenders, tight ships and gong shows, good teams and bad teams, heroes and villains. It's called sports.
You can try to regulate teams and leagues, but not everyone's going to be happy all of the time. It's only a matter of time before someone goes off the script and the pitchforks and torches come out for him, too.