Saturday, May 2, 2015


This post was not supposed to exist for a while.

My last entry was a perfect stamp on this writing experiment.  It was very well-received and got retweeted by the great Arthur Staple, Islanders beat writer for Long Island newspaper Newsday.  He even called me "classy".

So as Game 6 against the Washington Capitals approached I decided to leave that article as my last one until the end of the playoffs.  Had the Isles lost the game, it would've taken me quite a while to process all the devastation anyway, what with it being in front of the final Nassau Coliseum crowd.  Besides, I liked the idea of it being the post everyone sees at the top of the blog.

As we Islander fans are wont to do, I was extremely nervous that the last game at Nassau Coliseum would be a season-ending loss.  The team played their worst game in weeks when they lost Game 5 so confidence was pretty low.  Even the new-and-improved optimistic version of me was cracking under the pessimism.  Turned out pessimism was only one of many emotions that would follow.

Over the next 48 hours, the Islanders went out and won Game 6 with an inspired, relief-inducing performance followed by a shocking and gut-wrenching final act in Game 7.  We had lived out Leonardo DeCaprio's final ten minutes of The Departed over the course of two games.

It was all very nauseating and exciting up until we got shot in the head.

Even though the season ended on a massively disappointing note and the team has cleared out of the Coliseum for the final time, there's also a lot to savor.  Even days later, the onion of emotion that opened up after the final horn continues to produce new layers.

La La La, I'm Not Listening

The worst part of the Islanders again losing in the first round is, unsurprisingly, the chorus of "Same old Islanders!" that rose from the ashes of Game 7.  Anyone with a shred of NHL knowledge knows that this year's Isles team is anything but the "same old" squads of the past.  But the raw facts are unavoidable: They still haven't won a playoff series since 1993.  They didn't play all that well at the end of the season and pissed away home-ice advantage.  Head Coach Jack Capuano started making bad decisions with the roster and lineups at the most crucial times.  Most the the team played terribly in Game 7.

All of these things provided ripe ammunition to opposing fans.  Especially fans of the New York Rangers, who'd just happily watched their team win another playoff round.  Hours after the loss, I'd resigned to taking a few text messages from Ranger-fan family members while stepping back from the Internet.  Most of the next day I lurked around Twitter - because who can go more than 3 minutes without checking their feed, amirite? - but avoided all the media recaps and editorials on the series.  It was for the best since entering into a rational discussion at that point was a near impossibility.  My irritability level was ultra-high, which is never a good place to be while on "teh Interwebz".

The Lights Go Off

Once the disgust and hypersensitivity wore off, a true melancholy set in.  All of those feelings from last Sunday's Game 3 came back, intensified by the finality of the situation.  Now it was truly over and the old barn would never host another game.  By Tuesday, the Web was awash in articles with quotes and observances about what the building meant for the players and fans.  I couldn't read any of them.  For a second, I understood why people would dive into the dumpsters to find a keepsake.  But only for a second because, really...that garbage picking stuff is crazy.

As before, the closing of the Coliseum led me to think about the Islanders' new arena in Brooklyn.  I'm know Barclay's Center has all the latest bells and whistles and will provide plenty of high-class amenities for fans, but it's not built for hockey.  The off-center scoreboard and horseshoe-shaped seating (which is the cause of 400+ obstructed seats) are not just quirks, they're a reflection of how the team is still perceived.

Yes, I realize that anyone proclaiming the "Isles suck" because the scoreboard under which they play is a few feet from center is not worth engaging in fun sports-fan banter with.  But still, it's going to happen and I'll have to roll my eyes at it along with everything else.  That cup has been full for decades and I fear adding more might cause a flood.  As pointless as it is to focus on the layout of the seats, I think about it quite a bit.  Only continued success will make it go away and that isn't guaranteed.  Not just yet anyway.


Now at the end of the week, thoughts of the off-season have crept in.  Oddly, this is somewhat comforting.  Not because the team is well-positioned to contend for a few years, but it's really all I've had to work with most seasons.  The speculation about Capuano's future was quickly addressed by General Manager Garth Snow.  Personally, I agree with the choice.  Not becuase I think Capuano is a great coach (he's OK), but because it's crazy to fire a coach after the team won more games than any other Islander team since the dynasty years.  The team faltered down the stretch, but also dealt with injuries to some pretty important players.  Special teams was a big issue all year, but while the power play sputtered out, the penalty kill unit got much better.  There's plenty of better coaches out there, but Capuano deserves one more year with higher expectations before the axe is swung.

As far as the roster, there's not much to address outside of the core.  I have plenty of opinions on individual players, but I'll save that for the summer.  The good news is the team is setup very well for the next 2-3 seasons.


Before closing the curtain on this blog for the remainder of the spring, I'd like to thank a few folks for their help.  Dominic and Dan over at Lighthouse Hockey were kind enough to link to my blog in their daily news posts.  I would literally have nobody reading any of this without that small, but critical gesture.  I'd also like to thank Connor from IslesBlog for his feedback and kind words.

I'll be back posting again once the playoffs end.  It's possible I write something before the Cup is awarded, but my personal week-to-week deadline for posting is discontinued for the summer.  I will definitely be picking things up as the 2015-2016 season begins.  With the team in a new building and expectations at a 30-year high, I'm confident there will be plenty of emotions for me to work through.



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