I think that like with a lot fans, I got into the Islanders because of proximity. Growing up in Garden City, they were the team that, until recently, practically played in my backyard. They were, and still are, the team that wore my home on their jersey. I had casually followed the Islanders up until I was 8 years old. Then, I made my maiden voyage to the Coliseum and from that night on, I was in 100%.
October 21, 2006 marked my first trip to the Nassau Coliseum. My dad and I went as a part of a partnership between the Islanders and local Cub Scout troops. I still have the ticket stub. Our opponent was the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. I picked a fantastic first game. After going up 2-0 through Jason Blake (my first favorite Islander) and Mike York, Carolina stormed back through Justin Williams and Rod Brind'Amour to take a 3-2 lead late into the third period. Mike Sillinger tied the game with a little over three minutes to go and Tom Poti (who was my dad's favorite player on the team because he left the Rangers for us) won it 23 seconds into overtime.
I remember pure jubilation from the fans around me after Poti scored. I remember my dad cursing out the ref on numerous occasions and subsequently telling me not to tell my mom that I heard what he said. I remember the weird Long Island Railroad sponsorship with the goal horn. But most importantly, I remember that as being the moment that got me hooked on this team. On that day, I thought the Islanders were the best team in the world and were gonna kick everyone's ass on their way to their fifth cup.
While I was wrong about the fifth cup, I was 100% right about the first part. This team IS the best team in the world. Because of us. Because they decided to be suburbia's team in the face of more money being available in the cities. Because of all of that, and despite numerous overtures to jump ship from my Blackhawk fan mom and numerous Ranger fan friends, I have remained faithful through some dark times. Because even though this team makes it really hard to root for them sometimes, all that's gonna does is make it even sweeter when John Tavares raises number five over his head.