A Letter to the Surging Islanders
Steve Giangaspro on Wed, 2013-04-10 23:42
To the New York Islanders,
This is a letter addressed to the New York Islanders. This is the team with a hibernating fan base that has been starving for any sustained success in recent years. Success is a distant memory on Long Island and despite some stretches of promising teams, they have gone 30 years without a championship.
In that time span, the team has went from the envy of the league to the polar opposite. For a franchise that was once so successful, seeing the losing seasons piling up was disheartening.
For the younger generation of fans who were born after the Dynasty years, we have known nothing but despair and heartache. Aside from a Shawn Bates penalty shot and a Wade Dubielewicz poke check, the memory bank of positive memories are thin.
But on behalf of this famished fan base, I would like to thank you for the past few weeks. It isn't much but it has felt amazing to be an Islanders fan for the past few weeks. We are aware that there is still work to do and that nothing has been accomplished officially yet. We haven't clinched a playoff spot but we have achieved something during these last stretch of games that saw the team go 7-2-1.
We became relevant again. We are in the mix and our young core players are showing up during high pressure situations and succeeding.
It didn't take much to wake up the fan base that had already accepted another season of disappointment as recent as last month.
Throughout the whole season, fans discussed how the Isles played so well on the road and so poorly at home. These fans wondered if they could carry that over in Uniondale, how much noise could they make in the Eastern Conference playoffs.That was all chatter and unrealistic before this run.
Their early season struggles at the Coliseum were well documented. Rock bottom occurred on a Monday matinee when Philadelphia thrashed the team 7-0 for the worst home loss in team history.
With the Isles impressive 4-1 win at home against this same Flyers team, they have shown just how far they've come in such a short time. They completed a neat circular path back to the door step of NHL relevancy.
The team is clicking on all cylinders and behind the strong play of the sensational Evgeni Nabokov, they are able to make the once elusive 3rd period leads stand up.
With each passing game, each game becomes more important than the last. If the Islanders are able to seize a spot, the team would be used to playing playoff type hockey from weeks of high pressured games. That could bode well for the Islanders in the upcoming weeks.
There is a buzz that has been rising throughout Nassau and Suffolk County during this recent surge and it is an amazing feeling. Fans are proudly wearing their jerseys in public and having good reason to sport their orange and blue. People are talking Islanders hockey at bars, work and on lines at stores.
Fans are proud of their team and the spike in attendance parallels that notion. Saturday's game hosting the Rangers should be an all out war. The energy in the building will be electric. With the Rangers trying to keep pace with the Isles, the fans have good reason to recite their rendition of the "Chicken Dance" and mean it. The rivalry is always heated. But now that there are playoff implications and the Isles are on top of their big brother for this short time, it should be fun to watch.
It has been 6 long years since the Old Barn has hosted a playoff game. It has been much longer than that since the team had a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup.
This letter is not saying that this is the year they are going to get to the Finals. It is just nice to be there in the top 16 with a chance. There is always that glimmer of hope because of 2012's 8th seed Los Angeles Kings success in their path to winning it all last year. We know that anything is possible.
I think what is most exhilirating about this recent run is that the fans are finally seeing the fruits of the team's labored rebuild. Fans feel that this type of impressive play could and should be sustained for a long time starting now with the infusion of great, young talent on the Islanders. With young talent ready to blossom at the NHL level, the sky is the limit for the Isles.
The team will have to scratch out a playoff spot but raising their sights on a seed higher than 8th is realistic. Fans are talking about ideal playoff seeding and who the Isles would match up better with. These are the times we have been waiting for.
Again, we know that a lot can change in 8 games. But we are thankful to have this time to soak in some inspiring and impressive hockey from the team we love so dearly.
Shortened season aside, playing meaningful games in April is a huge step for the young Islanders. No matter how this season ends, you have shown the fans that their undying loyalty will pay off sooner than later.
Let's keep this ride going.