The Opossum-Palooza

It's okay. We don't know what the name means either.

9.10.2006

NHL Preview: New York Islanders

Part seven of our thirty part series previewing the upcoming NHL season is once again brought to you by DefDude, and is today focused on the New York Islanders.

Do I actually have to write this? Can’t we just all accept the fact that the Islanders will be the worst team in the NHL and move on? No, my contract stipulates at least three paragraphs? Ok, here you go:

What.

A.

Joke.

Where to begin? Their owner is Charles Wang, and if that last name didn’t tip you off, he seems to be more concerned with making people laugh (Or cry, if you live on Long Island), than with icing a competitive hockey team. Friend OldChelsea sums up this, and another situation nicely in a recent message board post:

Once upon a time there was a baseball team whose very name was synonymous with fundamental soundness in the sport: building through the farm system and adding just the right trades or FA signings to fill specific needs...emphasising strong pitching (all those 20-game winners and Cy Young laureates), tight defence (led by a legendary third baseman with 16 consecutive Gold Gloves) and timely hitting. But starting about twenty years ago that organisation began to deteriorate...the farm system withered, ownership became more meddlesome, and potential free agents actually (if the stories are to be believed) crossing that team off their itineraries...and the losing seasons continue to mount, and attendance (despite a much-admired ballpark) is down.

And once upon a time there was a hockey team which, in its own way, was also synonymous with the 'right way' of doing things: building through the draught(sic) (including three Calder Trophy winners in the franchise's first decade of existence) and making the right trades to fill needs...and this would be borne out splendidly with four Stanley Cups. But as time passed and the stars of those teams aged and/or left, the organisation lost the plot and ultimately went through a nightmarish series of ownership shifts, and is now hitting rock-bottom...no playoff series wins since 1993, a string of seven straight seasons out of the playoffs (two short of league record), and finishing dead last in the league in attendance in 2005-06.

The baseball team is the Baltimore Orioles...the hockey team is the New York Islanders...and their recent histories have an eerie symmetry...although I must agree Charles Wang is a much more entertaining read than Peter Angelos.

I hate to fuck Islanders fans any more than Wang already has, but 3 different men have held the position of Islanders GM this summer, and yet when it came arbitration time, it was not the current GM/Backup goaltender Garth Snow, but former GM Mike Milbury. It’s lucky for the Islanders management that Garth Snow won’t be encumbered by such duties normally associated with a General Manager position such as, you know, running the team, because it appears all his time will be consumed now by getting himself into top physical condition to become the NHL’s first ever Player-GM. Or at least that’s the plausible explanation for Wang’s refusal to allow negotiations to begin with starting goaltender/Free Agent Rick DiPietro until Wang returns from vacation, and a deadline that he be signed by training camp, which will leave a window of negotiation lasting…….5 days, assuming Wang doesn’t change his mind and stay on vacation for awhile longer. After all, who would want to go back to that mess in New York?

If, for whatever reason, you want in on the Isles blog-related masochism, check out Inferno Isle.

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