Is it October yet? Because play-by-play announcer Howie Rose is singing the sweet sounds of New York Islanders hockey past, present and future in a way that makes you feel like opening night is tomorrow.
In the wake of the announced sale agreement for the Islanders, Rose's interview with Pete McCarthy on the Sports Zone at WOR 710 is long, wide-ranging, and a must-listen. He waxes poetic -- and opinionated -- on all things around the state of Isles hockey right now. One assumes he dropped a ceremonial mic at the end.
We have a few salient excerpts below to whet your appetite (h/t Brian Compton of nhl.com), but the quotes below aren't even the half, not even the quarter, nor even the eighth of it. It's freaking mid-August and now I can't sleep because of hockey.
On Charles Wang's Tenure as Owner
Rose started off with a bang, noting the team "desperately needed an infusion" of energy and capital. But he wasn't hammering on Charles Wang; rather, noting the struggle to create a sustainable future and the reality that the possibility of a sale had lingered the past few years.
"Charles -- even though it might not seem like it in the last few years with the commitment to the youth and rebuild -- Charles actually is a big thinker."
Rose pointed to the initial investment in trades and big contracts, including taking on Chris Osgood's contract via waivers, which led to an initial revival before the struggle for a new building dragged things down.
On the Money Wang lost, and the Lost Battle to Replace the Coliseum
"One word answer: politics. I've got my feelings about it and I'm not about to make them public right now, because frankly I don't need the aggravation, but …
Frankly it never should have come to the Islanders leaving Long Island … regardless of who the guilty parties are, I do know how badly Charles wanted to keep the Isles here. Without Charles, this franchise would have ended up in Timbuktu. He exhausted every measure to keep the team on Long Island."
On the New Ownership Structure
"I'd be lying if I said I knew [Wang] well, but I do know him enough to know he's incredibly passionate about the success of the team. And as I stated before, I think this arrangement will give him the opportunity to build on his dreams before he takes a back seat."
"Again, I only know what's been released -- no one's told me anything off the record -- from what I understand this was even part of the proposed deal with Barroway. He doesn't want to let go completely. He's going to relinquish control of the team, but because of the emotional commitment he has to the Islanders organization, I think it's important to him to at the very least he be allowed to have some say in what goes on, even if it's not a very significant one.
"That's about the best picture I can paint of Charles. He's extremely, extremely attached -- even from a figurative standpoint, in an umbilical sense it's part of who he is, and it's very difficult for him to wash his hands of it."
On Brooklyn, and Why Next Season Isn't About That
"Totally different thing. Brooklyn isn't even a blip on my radar right now. Hopefully it will work great. But this season isn't about Brooklyn. This is a team that's at the point right now should be in position to significantly challenge for a playoff spot.
"If you were at the Coliseum 15 months ago during the Pittsburgh series, you know what the place sounds like when there's something on the line. And that's going to be a very hard thing to let go of."
Rose went on to discuss the familiar traits that make the Coliseum so electric at those times and impressed outsiders who'd never experienced playoff hockey there: the low ceiling and compact setup means the sound "gives you goosebumps."
"Because of that, I refuse to dream about what's going to be in Brooklyn, because I don't know how it's going to work. … Believe me, this season should not be about, "Oh don't worry, wait until we get to Brooklyn." Never mind Brooklyn. This is a team that's going to fight for a playoff spot this year. And this season in my mind needs to be about the people who have financially and emotionally supported the team for 40 years."
On the Team's Storied History, Including the 1975 Team
Rose spoke vividly and eloquently about the many parts of Islanders history which should be honored this year while the team puts an exciting product out -- right now. In particular, he said it's overdue to give OT hero J.P. Parise and the 1975 team its due for upending the Rangers, completing the 3-0 series comeback against the Penguins, and nearly repeating the 3-0 comeback against Philly in the semifinals:
"I hope Mr. Ledecky and Mr. Malkin understand the tradition. It's not just about four years in the 1980s. It's not just about some rough recent stretches. To name one example, the Islanders as an organization have absolutely got to pay tribute to the team that put them on the map, and that was the 1975 team."
That team, Rose said, has "never been properly recognized" and deserves its night with a salute at center ice.
Listen to the full interview here. Warning: You will get really, really antsy for the season to start.