Editor’s Note: This season we are adding some new writers to LHH, and we’ve asked them to do self-introductions and give us a taste of their fan backstory. You may have seen this one before from FanPosts on a range of topics. But here’s more about Jt’s Dynasty.
When I was a young boy, my father told me how he’d sneak me into Islanders games at the Nassau Coliseum. When the Islanders scored (which was rare, since this was the late ‘90s), he’d lift me up in the air, a precursor of sorts to the Yes Chant. All the security guards would glance up and smile at the adorable young boy waving his arms in the air with glee.
Soon they were kind enough to bestow gifts on me: a signed puck or two, a bobblehead, a banner they found in the Coliseum basement that hadn’t been touched for years. My collection of Isles gear grew and grew.
But I wasn’t really an Islanders fan. Not yet.
My father and I went to the Coliseum for years. Most of the time I have no memory of any of the shots, goals, or even players. All I remember is the feeling of sadness when the Isles inevitably lost, and my father said “Next year’s going to be their year. I guarantee it.”
Next year wasn’t their year. It wasn’t the year after either. And while I enjoyed my time with my father, it still didn’t make me an Islanders fan.
I wish I could say there was some magical moment that got me into hockey, a play or a shift that made the game bury itself in my heart, and not let go. There wasn’t. It just happened gradually at perhaps the oddest time—the 2010-2011 season…when the Isles were on their super-long losing streak.
The Switch Flips On
I’m not sure what did it, but one day the switch just went on, and I realized “this is a fun sport!” The Islanders still lost, of course, but I got to enjoy it more.
Maybe it was the new coach in Jack Capuano, who was advocating for a simpler style of play the team responded to. Maybe it was the emergence of a speedster named Michael Grabner, who seemed to get a breakaway every game. Or maybe it was the fact, cliché as it sounds, that after the All-Star break, the Isles started to win. They put up a fight every game emerging with the 2nd-most wins after the All-Star break. They were so bad in the first half that they finished 5th-last overall, but still, they were fun to watch.
From then on, I was hooked. I devoured everything Islanders I could, immersing myself in the history and present of the team. I immersed myself in the Lighthouse Project and the search for a new arena, remembering my concern as I saw my polling place at a local church was filled primarily with senior citizens, the first sign the vote wasn’t going to go the way I had hoped.
Most of all, I studied the prospects and the new ways of analyzing hockey. I found Lighthouse Hockey, and the amazing ability their writers have of coping with being an Islanders fan through analysis and humor.
I’m so happy to be able to write about this team and its future. I hope I can take different elements of past LHH writers—using numbers to support statements, making you laugh about this team, looking at the culture of the hockey world in general—and create pieces that make you smile and think.
Or at least help you cope with being a fan of this incredible, mind-boggling, damn-it-I-still-love-them team. Now let’s drop the puck, and get ready to smile once again.