New Orleans is haunted. They say this as a matter-of-fact. Sure, there is that touristy aura to the French Quarter where drama club dropouts hark silly stories and half truths to Pa and Ma with the kids who have come in from Memphis. That's not the part of the French quarter I frequented. Instead we delved deeper into it's torrid past.
We passed places off the beaten track, like the Dungeon, a goth bar made up by rich kids who read too many Anne Rice novels. It became even more notorious when 3 goth babes took one tourist from Kansas back to his hotel. Then they cut his throat, drinking his blood from a dixie cup. A dixie cup. And there you have the New Orleans that I like. They know a good drama. That lead goth girl was the daughter of an affluent family. She went to jail. She was recently released and back at the Dungeon, they say. How long till another toast playing Lestat for Dummies? Is it all true? Who cares! It makes a good story.
New Orleans torrid past is filled with disease, politics, murder, mayhem, and floods. Bodies used to be piled in the street. Think of the Toronto Maple Leafs ownership, but more warm and fuzzy. They say ghosts are abound. From back alleyways to old slave auction houses that now serve as restaurants. The Lalaurie house, Andrew Jackson Hotel and Muriel's restaurant are ghost hotspots. There are building that still stand from colonial times from when the French occupied the city, and then after, when the Spanish came waltzing in.
The locals do not subscribe to the tourist harkers or silly drama. They just state it as fact. New Orleans is haunted, with such a bloody history, how can it not be? The Andrew Jackson hotel was built over a burnt down children's orphanage. Customers regularly complain of hearing children playing in the courtyard or giggling in the dead of night, wondering what kind of parents let their kids out that late. TVs turn on and off. Facets run. One story has a married couple griping about never quite seeing anything until they had their pictures developed. One picture of them both sleeping.
The Song Remains the Same
It was among these ghosts that I walked the streets haunted. I was haunted by an Islander season. I left as the Isles spun with rumor, innuendo, lackluster efforts, and Kyle Okposo being over scrutinized for his first game. Would Nolan be fired? Is Garth and he feuding? My Blackberry was littered with emailed debate from those Isle fans who liked to cite history, and another half who tried to ignore history. There was endless argument on who and what to blame. Or why this was just another blemish to the Isles torrid past. Or how things we all needed to move on to the past. Look at the current events with less jaded eyes.
As any fan, you have to accept history. Accept the embarrassment of the long tailspin of Isles. From terrible ownerships and opportunities lost. Accept, like the citizens of New Orleans did. The kind of people who watched their city flood and people talk about even abandoning it. They rebuilt it anyway. Those are people to accept. They don't ignore the reality, nor harp on every fart and fizzle that they had to deal with. They accept, rebuild and then move forward. New Orleans has a lot to teach the Isles and their fans.
As emails frittered from fans, friends and fellow bloggers, I ignored them, unless to give one-liners. I drank Sazeracs. A Sazerac is one of the oldest known cocktails, actually was served pre-Civil War New Orleans The original drink is based on a combination of Cognac and bitters. Mine were with Bourbon mostly. Some with absinthe (a diluted cousin to the real stuff) or grenadine (why Pat O'Briens of all places, put that in is beyond me).
I drank them, soaking up the city, ghosts, history, food, coffee and walked every inch of it till my feet were sore. I smoked cigars, took pictures and ate my way through New Orleans trying to suck the experience dry, like perhaps one of those goth girls and their dixie cups. I ate turtle, rabbit, crawfish, oysters, shrimp, pork, chicken, crab, beef, rice, gnocchi, tasso, sausage, sweet potatoes, corn, goat cheese, crepes, romano, lobster. And I'm sure I'm missing a few food groups there. I should also mention Rolaids and I became good friends. Oh, and coffee. I drank more coffee than I ever did. Beignets? Ate those too. Those are french donuts with that powdery sugar goodliness. I might be going thru beignet withdrawal right now
I had very little interest in Bourbon Street, and the college kids puking bad beer and poorly mixed cocktails into the streets. I was more interested in the more authentic spots of the bars and music clubs on the outskirts. I never quite follow the prevailing opinion or routes. I seek my own. I tried to forgot about hockey and the Isles season. But to no avail . . .
The Isles Own Ghost Story
As stories of Nolan and hearing nothing about a contract extension hit the wire, I was smoking a cigar in a courtyard garden. My thought, as I read Greg Logan's piece on Newsday website: Why in hell should Nolan get an extension?If anything, this was his toughest season in the NHL. If a team of several one year deals can be made, why can't the coach do the same? Ted Nolan, hired by Wang himself, was given three years. I am not subscribing that Nolan isn't the best coach for the job. But let a guy earn it.
Lame duck or not, that duck better be viciously lighting a fire under those next season while nurturing the new kids. And we could certainly use a shakeout of some of those assistants. Gallants powerplay did well when there was team chemistry and momentum. But fell apart and became even worse, a liability. The PP became the Isles magnifying glass to coaching issues, confidence, schemes and failure. No, I would not extend Nolan's contract. Let him do what many of his players did. Hopefully, he will actually earn an extension, whereas many with one year deals currently, DID NOT.
Meanwhile, perhaps Garth Snow shouldn't be getting an extension anytime soon either. This ragtag sleepers and castoffs did not get the job done, and the some mistakes were made. The largest one being the serious lack of defense. Bring 9, 10 or 100. But you better bring in talent and upward ability. This team still lacks top dmen that are true #1 or #2s. They can call Martinek and Witt them all they like. And they are good players. But neither or whom are top flight. The puckmoving and offensively minded dmen attempt failed with MAB and Berard. Only Campoli stood tallest, showing offensive prowess and better play in his owjn end. Meyer became solid in his own end. Sutton also was a force. Both the latter came on during injuries to others.
There are lacking things to this NY Islanders. The intentions were noble. But what of next season?
Tank. Satan. Two men who I felt should have been moved at the trade deadline. Two who might have landed a draft pick or two. Should we resign them? Why?
Fedotenko has 1 goal and 1 assist in the 7 games since the deadline. So much for the hot play. And Kyle Okposo has already surpassed Tank in 4 games with 1 goal and 2 assists. Writing is on the wall. Don't you think?
Satan has 1 goal and 4 assists, a bit more meaty, but, unless Miro takes a more down to earth contract, he won't be returning either.
Meanwhile, since the trade deadline:
Bryan Berard, no goals, but a whopping 9 assists. MAB who? MAB, by the way, has 0 goals and 0 assists since being traded to the Ducks.
Comrie has 3 goals and 1 assist.
Bill Guerin, 4 goals and 3 assists.
Blake Comeau? 3 goals and 2 assists.
Vasicek, 1 goal and 3 assists.
Bergie, 3 goals and 1 assist.
Tambellini: disappearing again with only 2 assists. BUT, has numerous hits and all over the place lately.
No, don't bury the Isles just yet. Even as they float away down the standings. There is no other choice but to gather oneself, reassess and rebuild. Next year might be the true testament to what and who they are at this juncture. Then, we will have to rebuild again.
Next for the Isles, the Penguins in Pitt. And then Philly on Saturday.