Why this Rags fan became an Islanders fan and has the appropriate feelings toward his former faves

A tradition continues. - Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

I have been watching hockey since the early 1960s. I grew up in Queens and every Saturday night I watched the Rags with Win Elliot and the Schaefer Circle of Sports. So, naturally, I was a Rags fan (there was nothing else), and I was devastated in 1971 when, after the Pete Stemkowski 3 OT gamer, the Rags lost game 7.

When the Isles were created, I still lived in Queens, no easy access to the Coliseum but I loved hockey so much that I went to WHA NY Raiders games at MSG. Anyway, I liked the Isles from the get go; was thrilled in 1973 when Bill Torrey did not fall for Sam Pollock's blandishments and trade away the #1 pick (who turned into Denis Potvin); again in 1975 when they beat the Rags. The final turning point for me was the firing of a gentleman and superb manager and coach, Emile Francis, and his replacement with a thug whom I hated when he was with Montreal, the execrable John Ferguson (this is how I remember it all these years later).

After that, hatred became too soft a description of the way I viewed the Rags. I am an observant Jew and the first cup clinching game was on a holiday on which turning on a TV etc. is a no-no. Friend of mine set up a TV with a timer, and we watched the game in his attic. Damn good thing they won when they did since I think the timer was set to go off.

I have become a season ticket holder in Brooklyn and having watched and attended sporting events for over 50 years, including NBA Finals games in which the Knicks appeared. The single greatest moment of my fandom was JT's 2OT goal last year; I was lucky enough to be present. Unfortunately, my wife got to my daughter first, and she purports to be a Rags fan (so when I bring her to the Barc for NYR-NYI games, she wears her Rags jersey; nothing as sweet as beating the Rags with your daughter the Rags fan, in full regalia, sitting next to you. She has promised to leave the dark side when Henrik Lundqvist retires).

I have to admit that when things went bad under he who won't be named (but was recently embarrassed by Charles Barkley on the NHL Network), I just could not take it any more and stopped watching hockey. It has thrilled me that they have become a competitive, watchable team once again and I am proud to say that I am an Isles fan; heck, I generally always have some Isles wear on, be it a cap, socks, sweatshirt etc.

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