Isles Should Not 'Fail For Nail'
The playoffs might be further out of sight, and the reality that the Islanders aren't a playoff team has become more and more apparent with every weakening loss, but this is not the time to "fail for Nail."
Nail Yakupov is considered to be the obvious choice for the number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year old Russian sniper scored 101 points (49 goals, 52 assists) in 65 games played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL in 2011 and currently has 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points in 40 games this year. The Islanders, like every other team in the NHL, could certainly benefit from having another scoring winger added to their line-up. (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr)
So why do I say that the Islanders shouldn't look to drop in the Eastern Conference standings?
This is the fourth year of Garth Snow's rebuild that started in his second season as General Manager. The Islanders made the moves necessary to draft Josh Bailey in 2008, and the watch for John Tavares went on for the following season. It was almost certain that the Isles would finish dead last with the roster that was presented on the ice each night - and they did. The lottery went in Snow's favor and he made the obvious choice to take the best talent in 2009 and he hasn't disappointed since. Post 2009 the Islanders have drafted Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome and the organization continues to patiently wait for their development to transition into on-ice results.
The 2013 season will be year number five in Snow's rebuild, a year where there should be significant change to the product that skates over the logo that all the fans of Long Island continue to hail and cheer for as they, too, patiently wait to see on-ice results.
The mindset should be different now. It is different, and looking to see failure is the wrong attitude to have heading to the end of 2012. The Islanders are seven points out of the playoffs and still have the potential to go on a winning streak and make a last serious run for the number eight spot. I've said a thousand times that I expect the Islanders to finish 10th or 11th and that this season has been a major sign that the rebuild has finally taken a step in the right direction. The mere fact that we are approaching the middle of March and I can type the word "playoffs" into an Islanders blog is a proof that things are changing for this team.
It's common for fans to want and expect more, fans who have been waiting in agony to have a team that is a contender since 2002. But the fact of the matter is that this hasn't been Snow's team since then. Despite the ignorant comments that some online pundits will make, the New York Islanders have not been rebuilding for 20-plus years. There has only been a true plan in place sign Garth Snow took over.
I've already stated that it's on Snow to add some big ticket players to his roster this summer, whether it's via free agency or the trade market. It might not happen due to the same issues every year, but if this team is to make the playoffs for sure in 2013, they have to have a better line-up, plain and simple.
That is why 2012 needs to end on a positive note. That's why the Islanders have to end the year with their heads held up high despite possibly (and most likely) failing to reach their primary objective. Falling down into the bottom-five on purpose, or even worse to the bottom three, sends a message to the fans and the players in that locker room that the coaching staff and ownership have realized that the current players wearing an Islanders uniform don't have what it takes.
Believe me, you don't want to do that to a still young, fragile squad that has come a long, long way over the past four years.