I root for one soccer team -- Everton Football Club of Liverpool, England. I started to follow them about 12 years ago or so when I was nine or ten. I never really had en explanation of why I chose this team over any of the other teams in England. Most of the times when people asked me why I chose Everton, I would say I like Duncan Ferguson. The good people over at Royal Blue Mersey will tell you, Dunc is about as big a folk hero there is.
It was true, I loved Big Dunc. But, there was also more to the connection between me and this gritty club from England's Left Side. They are in a two-club city, with Giant Liverpool FC constantly overshadowing their Politely Blue Neighbors. Liverpool are one of the most storied franchises in all of Footballdom -- but Everton are the ones with the stories.
I view our local derby in a very similar fashion. The Rangers, despite their meager amount of hardware for a team 80ish years old, are one of the most "storied" clubs in the NHL. An original six club from the Apple, doesn't get any easier than that.
We, the chosen few, live as the resistance to the Ranger Monopoly. We root for a team so detached from Manhattan that many don't consider us a "New York Team." The Mets, Knicks, Rangers, Giants, Jets, and Yankees -- those are the "New York Teams."
We are a part of this cause because we were chosen, we didn't choose. And we defy any of the outsiders to give more to a cause than we have.
That's why games against the Rangers still should matter to us, even if the cool thing to do somehow overlook and look down on The Mighty Islanders.
The Rangers are everything we aren't. Stable (Mentally, fiscally, and emotionally) and sensible people, self-entitled, and ignorant. They watch the team when its good and take a vacation during off years and watch the Knicks or Yankees, although they swear they've been through the tough times, (because a second or third round playoff exits at the hands of solid NHL clubs are so hard to get through).
They don't know what it's like to be kicked when they are down -- repeatedly. They only know what its like to beg when they are down and be given what they plead for. Bad drafting? That can be rectified by Marian Gaborik with Brad Richards followed by Rick Nash.
We needed secondary scoring this off-season too, you know -- we clamored for it -- and we worked hard to acquire a rebuild project coming off a 23 point season.
All the while the Rangers were robbing a small-market team into trading them one of the best players in the league for next to nothing. They used their power to bully the Jackets into a corner and then let them off the hook for a steep price. Consider this, if the Islanders had traded Okposo, Grabner, and Donovan plus a first for Nash we'd be just finishing our parade. Rick probably wouldn't come here but that is about what the Rangers were giving up.
The life of an Islander fan is not for everyone. You have to be ready to commit everything to a mercurial mission seemingly always doomed for failure. You need to be okay with the fact that you will be reminded harshly everyday that you are not in control.
The rivalry between the Islanders and Rangers is practically non-existent anymore. Thanks to the media a lot of the NHL's best rivalries have given way to the ratings rivalries of 2013.
There used to be hatred and accusations of evil in the natural rivalries. Detroit and Colorado, Boston and Montreal, Islanders and Rangers. These rivalries, along with many other ones were insane. The Coliseum turned into a madhouse when the Rangers contingent came to town.
But I still HATE the Rangers. They are everything I never want to be.
It's hard to see your bitter rival catch breaks that they don't need. When only 30 miles away we're scraping the bottom of the barrel for people to show up and play.
I realize now that I love Everton because they remind me a lot of my favorite thing in the world -- the New York Islanders. Now they are a much more talented, competitive club than we are on this Island, but they have virtually no money, an owner who's love for the team and the fans gets in the way of him improving it, and they have a neighboring rival who has riches beyond our wildest imaginations.
We should hate the Rangers. They are probably going to finish way ahead of us this year and that should anger the heck out of us.
That's why I look forward to nights like tonight. We have a chance to beat the hell out of the Rangers and for a moment have some bragging rights.
If we're not up for a game like this, then we're probably cooked. Hopefully our guys respond.
Let's Go Islanders