Everyone has heard the jokes about the Islanders, their General Manager, their Owner, the players, building, and so on. The people cracking these jokes are on message boards, in bars, blogs, etc. They are the fans of the NHL, both of the Isles themselves and of other teams. The people not cracking jokes? The coaches and players of other NHL franchises.
"But, if that was true, why don't players sign with the Islanders?" Fair point, voices in my head. The truth of the matter is one that isn't as deep and mysterious as some might think. The "shocking" truth is that the Islanders aren't a playoff team. Yet. Islander fans can blame Wang, Snow, the arena, whatever they want. The Islanders aren't a playoff contender. Let's say this ragtag team of young players broke through to the playoffs these past two season. Two seasons, two playoff appearances. I am firm in the belief it would be easier for a player to decide to sign with the Isles because we would be a step closer to being a "contender".
NHL players and coaches know that the team the Islanders have assembled, despite the record, play hard. They don't like playing the Isles any more than they like playing the Bruins or Canucks. The Islanders can bring the thunder just as hard as the Stanley Cup champions. A year older, a year to gel, the Islanders might surprise a few fans this coming season. The funny thing is, they won't be surprising anyone in the NHL if they play well.