The Islanders have gone all offseason without announcing a single free agency signing and making exactly one trade (an RFA who may already be signed yet, who knows). But there is one acquisition they seem to have made, according to the venerable uniform-obsessed site Icethetics.
In a video previewing some of the upcoming Reverse Retro third jerseys we might see next season, Icethetics talked about what they’ve heard regarding the Islanders design. And what they’re hearing is that a certain bearded bayman could be making a comeback.
For readers and not watchers:
Fans of the Fisherman get excited. After 25 years in exile, he’s coming back. Multiple sources tell me the Isles’ Reverse Retro design is based on their 1995 rebrand which was wildly unpopular at the time, but has gained kind of a cult status in recent years. The twist is that the jersey will use current team colors only - blue and orange, no teal.
(Icethetics also mentions in the video the discovered portfolio of a former designer from Adidas that showed an Islanders Reverse Retro design that had the Fisherman logo, with teal wave, on a black uniform. The site assumes that Adidas pitched the idea to the team, who turned it down. Would that be better? Not just one maligned design but two, combining into an ultimate Voltron of Uneasy Islanders Uniforms? The only thing about the black version that we can agree on is that it would piss off literally everyone: Fisherman haters, Yormark Non-More-Black haters, Third Jersey in General Haters and even Fisherman enjoyers who wouldn’t be getting the true Time Displacement feel they’re looking for.)
We will have to wait for a full reveal of the uniforms at a later date. But using the clues from Icethetics, you can picture what it will look like in your mind’s eye. Maybe the jersey would be the darker blue and orange of their last Reverse Retro uniform design.
James Nichols of Isles Fix and the Nassau Men podcast had a closer look at what an all orange version of the Fisherman could look like, and several folks replied with a version that’s already available in the team store.
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen the old bayman on a modern Islanders jersey. They’ve used the logo in warmup jerseys before, such as these forgotten threads from 2015:
The return of the Fisherman jersey has been a lukewarm topic for years now, and it only got warmer in the last couple of seasons as the team started selling merch with that logo on it at the official team store. While there is still a vocal group that can’t stand the sight of this bearded bastard child, there’s an undeniable popularity to it that makes people want it, two decades after absolutely no one did (outside of maybe his twin, Stan Fischler). Heck, even Johnny Boychuk used it when he was able to design his own Islanders cap.
Personally, I’ve made peace with the Fisherman. Looking back at it myself, and reading Nick Hirshon’s great book, We Want Fishsticks, I understand why it was done and how the owners at the time didn’t understand the difference between civic pride and sports pride. Islanders fans were proud of the team’s classic and now current logo. Paying tribute to the hardworking fishermen of Long Island just wasn’t part of the equation. In my first visit to UBS Arena, I wore the Fisherman Ziggy Palffy jersey that’s been locked away in my parents’ house since 1996.
But that’s just me. People still carrying around the trauma of being mercilessly ridiculed by Rangers fans and others during the mid-90’s are understandably gonna hold a grudge. All I can say to them is, hey, those assholes would make fun of the Islanders regardless, so what difference would the logo really make? The Islanders could be wearing uniforms made of 14K gold, vibranium alloy and dry-aged waygu beef and they would still find something to harp on. At least these jerseys will only be seen three or four times a season and the kids love ‘em.
But with a dearth of news and none on the horizon until at least September, at least we have something new to talk about. Maybe someone will even actually read this.