An open letter to Commissioner Gary Bettman.
I am a lifelong Islanders fan, but at 32 years of age please know that my desire to keep the team in New York has little to do with the four consecutive Stanley Cup titles the team won in the early 80s. It has more to do with hope for a struggling “small market” franchise and a fragile fan base, who can’t take much more losing – both, to politicians and on the ice.
I do recall being a teenager and watching Kelly Hrudey in net trying his best to fill in the big shoes of Billy Smith between the pipes. I also remember Brent Sutter, a youngster at the tail end of the four-peat, wearing the captain “C” on his chest proudly. Who can forget Pierre Turgeon pumping his fist in excitement as the Islanders were headed to a series win over the Washington Capitals…only to be knocked viciously into the boards by a beaten Dale Hunter. I recall David Volek beating Tom Barrasso with a slapper from the circle as the Isles ended Lemieux and Jagr’s try for a three-peat. The point is, when the team is NHL-caliber, the fans show up at the arena.
The current state of the franchise seems to be pointing upward. Save for a 20-game stretch this season where they couldn’t get anything right, the team generated some excitement for the first time in years. This may not be a playoff season, but it is vital for the development of our young players, like Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, and John Tavares. Players this team will eventually and undoubtedly lose once their rookie contracts expire. Mr. Commissioner, please do something about our home ice situation.
You see, the Nassau Coliseum was once a state of the art building, which was a very intimate place of business for an exciting and winning team. The years have taken its toll on the building. The franchise has already traded away generations of talent due to low attendance, which in turn has led to a dwindling fan base. After all, part of being a fan is at least having the hope of winning. We need to find the Islanders a new home before it’s too late. In the coming weeks, I will present a series of ideas to help save the Islanders.
An Optimistic (but not much longer) Islanders Fan