A few years back, awaiting the first round of the playoffs to arrive, I found myself in the midst of a marathon channel surf. I was waffled on my comfy sofa, with Stanley Cups dancing in my head...Why can’t those playoffs start already!!!!
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Then it happened. I came across a French TV show that has marked me ever since. I sat up, eyes focused to the little screen like a falcon swooping down on its prey. With a swish I turned up the volume. There he was, with a bunch of know-it –all media types....Mike Bossy. How I loved to watch him play, my childhood hockey hero. I still remember him zooming down the ice along the offensive zone, giving one of his patented wind-ups and scoring what seemed to me at the time to be magical goals.
The discussion had to do with their local NHL team failing to make the playoffs, the merits of having to make the playoffs and how the team should build for success. The members of the panel turned intense. The reporters would give their convoluted explanations with an air of superiority, and then after several minutes they all turned to Bossy, who simply smiled and said in a calm voice and a twinkle in his eye, “If an organization’s main goal is to make the playoffs, the team is headed for failure, if all you want to do is put a cast of characters together in order to make the playoffs, you will never win and more often than not, you will fail to qualify for the post season." Having the attention of the media hounds, he stated very poignantly that a team’s goals must revolve around winning the Stanley Cup and not simply making the playoffs.
This is not done through team statements that we as fans often hear with words like, “we are striving for the cup” or “we have a team to contend”, but by actions they undertake. The actions in question are by the way a team drafts, how they develop their picks, by the players signed in the off-season, and the way the team is coached and how as coaches they can adapt. Those words ring true to this very day in this fanatic’s ears.
Now looking at the state of affairs for many teams, those words seem to continuously reverberate through my hockey rotting brain. Every year you see teams that are built for continuous success and teams that strive for mediocrity, why is there such a disparity between them? Let’s look at my team, the New York Islanders. As fans, we have continuously been asked to stand by, pay the big bucks and cheer while the organization goes through a youth movement, a rebuilding stage, a fire sale, and various press releases and team statements that say that they are building for success. Yet, their actions seem to continuously betray those words at every turn. Is it bad luck, or is it a lack of understanding of what it takes to build a winner?
What to do....what to do....?!?!?!
The Islanders are not alone in this basket of mediocrity, several teams continuously state the importance of trying to make the playoffs, and how anything can happen once they squeak through. Enough already!!! I am so thirsty for my team to have real success that my mouth feels like a lonely sandbox. As a fan I simply want the Isles to quench this unrelenting thirst. Don’t tell me you have a contending team, show me.
After another season of crushed dreams and hopes, all I can hope for is that the blue and orange crusaders finally understand the importance of building from within, drafting intelligently, and finding a way to attract and increase their fan base.
Understand that I am a simple fan, one that will always support and cheer for my team through thick and thin. I cannot offer Garth Snow solutions, but I can let him know if I am pleased or not with his vision. The one thing this blogger will never do is tow the company line; spades will be called as such from the get go.
Whether you agree or agree to disagree with me, it matters not. What is important is that we all remain passionate about the teams we hold so dear. Let’s stand up together and voice our opinions, cheer for them we must, jeer them if we need. Never forget, that as fans we must stand up and be counted; we must be heard, before we are found wanting.
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