The first year I got into hockey and became a lunatic was the 1992-1993 season. I broke my finger on a field trip when I was in 8th grade and refused to let my mother take me to the hospital because the Islanders were playing game 7 in Pittsburgh that night. So, I sat in my room on that Friday night with my hand soaked in ice incredibly nervous but also confident. When you are 13 years old, you think your team is the best in the sport no matter if the team you are playing had won the previous 2 Stanley Cups and had Mario Lemieux and Jarormir Jagr.
So as Dave Volek pounded a Ray Ferraro pass home on that 2 on 1 to win that series, I took my wash cloth and swung it in a circle and had water fly all over my bedroom. Turned out the next morning I needed a cast for a month but I didn't care, the Islanders had upset Pittsburgh.
I remember literally crying when Pierre Turgeon was traded and hating Kirk Muller and not understanding how anyone would not want to play for the Islanders.
The mid 90's were tough. Half empty buildings and meaningless games in November year after year and draft picks traded to other teams who would then reach their potential made all of us Isles fans mad. Fisherman jerseys, John Spano, the list goes on.
It's been a long time since this organization was proud. We had a small taste in the 2001-2002 season. Peter Laviolette and that season and series brought hope that this team was on the way up. A tough hard fought loss to a respected Toronto team might have been what they needed to gain character for future playoff runs. That didn't happen.
Since the firing of Peter Laviolette, this team has been a soap opera. A mediocre team that had small success in reaching the playoffs. But reaching the playoffs and getting bouced out isn't good enough anymore. The upper management of this team has finally realized that. We are a team where free agents don't want to come and where the organization is the front for all jokes. Our star player goalie has been nothing but since last year's all star break and is now hurt once again. Our youth movement is frustrating. Not because we are rebuilding, but because when you look at our roster, maybe 6 spots are taken by players that are under the age of 25. It doesn't appear that any current Islander that is young will be a superstar. We do however have some NHL talent that can be here for the long haul.
We need to be patient once again. We have been the most patient of any team in any sport. We want a team and franchise to be proud of. We can't get to that point by signing 7 free agents each season, and hoping to make a playoff run. They are finally doing it the right way. We have some prospects doing very well early on in juniors and in brideport. The lighthouse project actually has good news. It appears that unless a major turnaround happens, this team is destined for a very high draft pick.
The Islanders will be giants again. They are still the last professional sports team to win 4 championships in a row. They still have a building that when it is full, and the game means something, rocks louder than any building in the league. They still have fans who have more passion and pride than any other team in the league. They still have fans clogging up message boards arguing over what is the best way to make this team better. We all have one thing in common, we want to be proud of this team. We all want a winner. When that happens, and I feel it will for the first time in a long time, no other fanbase will have it mean more. No other fanbase can collectively feel as good as we will because of the hardships and abuse we have been through. We are laughed at now but we will laugh last. I stress patience and strength to get through this season. We have hit bottom, the only other direction is up.