One of the best things about being a part of Lighthouse Hockey is the feeling of being a part of the community. The great start to the season means a likely influx of new users. So what better time to re-introduce the writers and moderators to the community? Feel free to take the time and this thread to introduce yourself to everyone around here. It's a good way to let people know your more then just a name on the internet.
So gather around the table, break out the Turkey, and hear everyone's stories about being an Islander fan.
When and Why I started following the Isles: I've told a variation of this a few times on the site, but my dad followed the Blues from the 1967 expansion, and they were captained by a bespectacled sage defenseman by the name of Al Arbour. My dad loved Arbour. Then when Scotty Bowman got into a dispute with management and was let go, the Blues hired Arbour as coach. My dad watched them foolishly send Arbour packing too. (Joel Quenneville would later join the long line of esteemed coaches let go by the Blues only to win multiple Stanley Cups elsewhere.)
Anyway, when I came along, my dad still had a thing for Arbour and -- not sure if he wanted to save me or live vicariously through me -- directed me toward Arbour's Islanders. I ended up watching and following both teams whenever I could, including the tail end of the dynasty. It was weird in '84 to internalize that the Islanders don't automatically win the Cup each year. It was REALLY weird in '85 to grasp that the finals wasn't a birthright either. Which ties into...
Favorite Islanders: Anyone who has followed the site for five minutes knows it's Frans Nielsen. I took an interest in him before #fancystats had taken off, because I was intrigued by how he played -- particularly for someone so small of frame. He wasn't one of those stupid little balls of hate who hits a lot with little size and delivers cheap shots that are marketed as "feisty." Rather, he was a guy who used skating and intelligence to match up with anybody. Then as the #fancystats were being developed, it reinforced what I thought I saw. And at the time, I needed a thematic underdog legend type to mythologize for the site. So he came of age at the right time.
I Also Write At: I've written for SB Nation but not lately (fatherhood). I do other stuff on the web under a few bylines, but it's not sports.
Dan "What happened to that idiot?" Saraceni
When and Why I started following the Isles: My dad used to get tickets from a guy at work who was a season ticket holder (who lived in the Bronx). When the guy couldn't go, he would give the tickets to my dad who was A. the only guy there who lived on Long Island and B. Had a little kid to take with him. I wouldn't call my dad an "Islanders fan" specifically. More of just a sports fan in general. I have no idea how old I was or who they played in my first game. I wish I did. I remember the name "Harry M. Stevens" being printed on every drink cup and some guy yelling at Mike Bossy for missing a shot (I mean, really?). I also remember a lot of fights in the stands.
Back then, in the post-Dynasty 80's, the Islanders were still pretty good and very much part of the community conversation. Seeing that first game gave me a feeling like, "Ah. Now I see what everyone is talking about." I followed casually until about the mid-90's when I started my full job of being "the biggest and only Islanders fan I know," to pretty much everyone in my life.
I consider myself a "Long Islander" before being a New Yorker. I'm old enough to remember when people had pride in Long Island. The Islanders were a big part of that. Those days died a long time ago and I've moved around some. But I have more faith in the Islanders to get back on their feet than I do the rest of Long Island. [cue sad saxophone solo]
Favorite Islander moment: Clinching the playoffs in 2002 with a win at home against the Caps, finally ending the drought. Also, Tavares' first playoff goal in Game 3 against the Penguins. And that banana's game against the Sabres in January of 2011, when Grabner scored his third goal of the game in OT. I Have so many. Basically, anything that makes me laugh out loud and feel the pride again.
All-Time: Pat LaFontaine. Close behind: John Tavares (who I would take a bullet for) and Ziggy Palffy.
Honorable mention: Bossy, who I was too young to see in his prime, Mariusz Czerkawski, Adrian Aucoin, Matt Moulson, Kevin Weekes, Bryan Berard, Mike Peca and Mark Streit.
When and Why I started following the Isles: My aunt and uncle were season ticket holders and they used to bring me every now and then to Cantiague park to watch the Islanders practice. I was young and baseball was everything to me then, but there was something about watching these guys fly around the ice that was so awe inspiring. These were the final years of guys like Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin, and not knowing much about hockey, having them sign my practice puck was no different than guys like Bob Bassen and Greg Gilbert doing the same. But the fact that each one of these guys took the time to give a nobody kid like me an autograph was something that stuck with me from that moment on. From that first practice I watched, I was an Islander for life.
Favorite Islander moment: The David Volek goal. Beating the Penguins may have been sweet, but this was the Islanders moment that cemented my father as an Islanders fan (according to him, up until that moment he only found playoff hockey exciting, after that moment he refused to miss a game.) That playoff series, and that goal in general was the beginning of one of the strongest connections I've ever had with my father...Islanders hockey. Two decades later and I still remember watching that game in my living room like it happened last week.
Favorite Islanders: Well if you've even heard the name Chris McNally in passing, you know I have a huge mancrush on Blake Comeau. But my first favorite Islander was another overrated Bottom 6 forward, Hubie McDonough.
I Also Write At: As of this second, nowhere. But sometime very soon I'm going to start writing about the NHL in general at HockeyHack.com. Figured the name is fitting.
When and Why I started following the Isles: My first sports memory is watching Isles-Pens Game 7 with my older brother. I was too young to really remember the game (obviously I've youtubed it a couple hundred times since), but it sort of solidified me as an Islander fan. Alas, they haven't won a playoff series since that game, so yeah, I know, it's totally my fault and I'm so so sorry.
Favorite Islanders: Believe it or not, Richard Park. I loved that dude. (Incidentally, my first post on LHH was about that line of him Jackman and Thompson). Yep, a 4th line grinder was my favorite Islander - my siblings were giving me a custom named jersey for my birthday just before the Tavares draft, and I wanted 91 since I figured they'd draft him, but my siblings didn't want me to regret the choice so they convinced me to pick a current Islander - so I took #10. Course, in about a year's time, that number was Mike Mottau's, so yeah, that sucked.
I Also Write At:
General Hockey Analytics work: Hockey-Graphs.com
Mike "ICanSeeForIslesAndIsles" Levak
When and Why I started following the Islanders: The Rangers were terrible, and I was an impressionable little boy (8 years old) who wanted to root for the local team. They just happened to also be halfway through their dynasty.
Favorite Islander moment: I wanted to say the run to the semis back in 93, but I'm going to go with the game that made Mario want to take his puck and go home. I happened to be there that game, and enjoyed every friggin second of it. For all the years I've had to endure watching other teams take liberties with our players, watching them fight back so thoroughly was so satisfying that it's difficult to put it into words.
Favorite Islanders: I'm not really good with this stuff. I will say that I've met Bobby Nystrom a few times and spoke with him a bit out on the street in my neighborhood. He was elated to find an Islander fan in Brooklyn. Expect more of those soon, Bobby. I'll go with him.
Mark "Brent Johnson still isn't smiling" D
When and Why I started following the Islanders: I already loved playing video game sports on the NES/SNES in the early 90s. Blades of Steel and Hit The Ice are two of my all time favorite. So I eventually started getting into the real thing. I'll admit I was a dumb kid and thought Islanders = Staten Islanders. But I picked the right time (or wrong one, it's up to debate) to start watching as the 93 Islanders made the playoffs.
Favorite Islander moment: Watching the 93 Islanders in the playoffs. I was watching live when Dale Hunter cheapshot Pierre Turgeon and I still hate Hunter to this day. At the time I bought into the whole "Islanders don't stand a chance without Turgeon" and didn't watch game 1 of the series. The Islanders ecked out a 3-2 win, and I didn't miss a game the rest of the way.
I'll never forget going into the 3rd period with my bootleg Bugs Bunny Islanders shirt on (it was lucky!) and being horrified when the Pens scored two goals. My parents wanted me to go to bed as OT started, but I argued them into letting me watch it. I'll never forget how happy I was for Ferraro to Volek. Plus hearing the Islander fans cheering in the background as the Igloo was dead quiet was incredible.
Favorite Islanders: It has to be Glenn Healy and Pierre Turgeon for my all time favorites. Healy is why I became a goalie, although I was also a fan of every Islanders goalie up till Osgood except for Hextall. If John Tavares keeps it up, he'll probably be in my all time list too. Also I have to throw in how much I loved Rob Schremp, so sad to see him go.