So hey you guys – MAY HOCKEY!
It’s been twenty long years since the New York Islanders were able to treat their fans to meaningful hockey games in May. You might quibble that this is in part due to the compressed schedule; maybe, but after the cruddy lockout – of which Washington’s Brooks Laich said, "I feel like we punched our sport in the face" – they owe us.
Since the calendar is looking our way for the first time in a while, I decided to look to the calendar for inspiration: specifically, the New York Islanders 2013 Team Calendar, officially licensed product of the NH of L and their Players’ Association. (Who’da thunk they could agree on anything?) It promises a "Bonus STATS Page," "Exciting NHL Trivia," and "more," so this could be the most exciting calendar since the Mayans stopped chiseling.
Hum the opening theme to NHL ’94 and come along with me.
The Bonus Page
They give you the bonus right up front, just like in a real NHL Standard Player Contract, but you don’t get to spread the extra time out over the duration of the calendar. It has the top ten in the boxcar stats, games played, and wins and shutouts; kind of depressing from an Isles fan’s perspective. The only Islanders representative there comes with a big asterisk.
The "Regular Season Leaders" section for last season is quite dumb. This time they skip shutout and games played in order to give us the save percentage and GAA leaders, but they neglected to screen out non-qualifiers. That’s how you get Mike Murphy, Peter Mannino, and Shawn Hunwick all leading the league in GAA… Hunwick doing so without facing a single shot in his three minutes of action. It’s obvious the intern at the calendar outfit just went to Google, found hockey-reference.com, and copied the list off the "goalie register" section instead of looking up the qualified leaders.
The Stanley Cup stuff is cool, though; composite standings and a list of historical winners. The Isles, with four out of five finals won, are the most successful franchise (by percentage) of any that has been to more than two finals. And the yearly history includes pre-NHL results back to 1918 – they miss Seattle’s 1917 victory but include the Marooons, the Vancouver Millionaires (oh-for-five, not including this year’s cameo wipeout - bummer), and the times that three teams all played in the challenge round.
Four Extra Months
The bottom of the Bonus Page is September, October, November, and December of 2012, lest you forget that there was exactly zero NHL hockey happening then. Fittingly, the two Islanders chosen to represent the lost half-year are Nino Niederreiter and Marty Reasoner. They are at least good pictures. Reasoner’s in particular is fun: he has the puck and a wide-eyed look of surprise on his face, like a mite player: look, I got it! Mom! Mom! Did you see, I had the puck! This is so fun!
Someone at the calendar company has a sense of humor, or we have a lurker: January’s poster Islander is Josh Bailey. HE WUZ EVEN RUSHD ON TEH CALENDER!!!eleven!
The fastest month is adorned with the fastest Islander, Michael Grabner, who once finished February on January 28th so he could really enjoy Presidents Day when it caught up to him.
In like a mighty bearded lion, out like a wounded lamb: it’s Rick DiPietro, who usually doesn't get this far into a season. One hopes for better in the future, despite logic, history, medical science, and the cruel blind whims of Fate.
STOP – Hammer time! It's Travis Hamonic, wearing the None More Black, hunting down a puck whilst pursued by a dastardly Penguin – in this case the dastardly #14, Chris Kunitz. Given the opponent and the jersey, it’s not hard at all to pin down the actual game shown: Dec 10, 2011, a 6-3 loss in which the Isles blew an early 2-0 lead, re-took the lead in the second (with a Hamonic assist on the play), and then unraveled when Hammer was assessed a phantom five-and-eject for elbowing. I think we're being trolled by the calendar now.
So what super-inspirational picture kicks off MAY HOCKEY at NASSAU COLISEUM?
Andrew MacDonald firing a pass out of his own end. Nobody else is in the frame so I’m guessing this was a random dump-and-change by the other guys. Eh, I’ll take it. Did I mention the MAY HOCKEY OMG HOCKEY IN MAY WHARRRGARRBL
Now we’re talking, friends. Matty Ice himself, Matt Moulson, is our June pin-up. He’s head-up, flow flying, looking for the puck on the breakout – I can see the Isles’ backup keeper in this shot – and there is a red Capitals jersey in the crowd. This would be either January 17, 2012 (a 3-0 Isles win) or February 28, 2012 (a 3-2 OT loss). My money’s on the loss, since the calendar is trolling us and the February game featured the Isles blowing a 2-0 lead in the last 3:29 of regulation.
It’s the Patron Saint of Pain, Matt Martin, #17… except that the picture is quite clearly #47, Andrew MacDonald. Really, Calendar?
Yes, really. August belongs to Nino Niederreiter. It’s the same picture from the Bonus Page. This would annoy me more, except that we have a better shot of the boards – this is Tampa, and Nino only played one game in Tampa last season, a 4-3 loss on March 24th.
Incidentally, the Evil Trolling Calendar has been giving us "ON THIS DATE" facts each month, and monthly trivia. To this point, not a single one of these facts has had anything to do with the New York Islanders, in their own team calendar. We have the momentous occasion of Pittsburgh’s May 16, 2011 signing of forward Zach Sill – but nothing at all about the Islanders in any way. History Will Be
Marty Reasoner gets his closeup. I can barely make out a Rangers jersey in the background, but Reasoner’s in the None More Black, and the Isles didn’t play the Rangers in their third jerseys at any time during this season. This is very puzzling to me. Why, Calendar?
It’s the captain, Mark Streit, along with a bonus 38% of Evgeni Nabokov in the background. It’s not clear who they’re playing here. There is a bit of a Verizon ad on the back boards, but it doesn't look like Washington. No red at all in the crowd. I think it also says UMC next to the Verizon ad, but the U is mostly hidden by the Captain.
Well, the Calendar comes through at the end. Considering the performance up until now, I wasn’t sure they could even get this obvious thing correct, but the Franchise has arrived, Mr. John Tavares, taking it behind the net and away from the defense. No visible opponent. On the bottom, it says "Happy Holidays," and that much, at least, the Calendar has right. Every day we get to see John Tavares in an Islanders uniform is Christmas Day.
MAY PLAYOFF HOCKEY, FOR SERIOUS.