Recently the NHL canceled regular season games through Oct. 24th, thus pushing back the start date for many teams to the 2013 season. The Islanders have erased six games from their October schedule with the new opening game being set for Friday, October 26th against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
This would have been a marquee match-up ten years ago with every Islanders fan having this game circled on their calendars after a bloody, injury filled and violent playoff series with the Leafs in 2002. Those games were the start of the end for some players (Michael Peca) while the dawning of new beginnings for others (Trent Hunter). Steve Webb became a household name that still gets chanted at the Coliseum to this day, and no one will ever forget Eric Cairns' salute to the crowd after pummeling Shayne Corson at center Ice.
The Captain 'C' is an honor that is sought for all throughout the NHL. We know the value in wearing it but lately for the Islanders it has been nothing but a stitched design to add to the jersey. After Denis Potvin stepped aside there has been a lot to be desired in terms of leadership for the team.
Looking at the Islanders' current captain, the honorable Mark Streit, it is easy to see why he is the captain. He is restoring form to an honor that has lost most of its meaning through the last few captains. Streit struggled last year but as a talented player, choosing to play on Long Island, is enough for the fans to let that slide. He has been a great example for the many young players on the team through his NHL experience and international play.
When the puck drops in October ushering on another Islanders season, we all sit in anticipation of what may be. This hope makes us realize why we love this team all over again, every single year. For a fan base starving for winning on a consistent and familiar basis, the beginning of the season leaves us hopeful, sometimes without much reason. There have been years walking through the doors of the Old Barn realistically knowing that we were about to witness the tapping of a keg full of losing hockey. Call us delusional if you want but I prefer passionate.
In the mass of orange and blue, I reside. It has been that way since I was a young boy. I never really stood a chance really, simply because they were my first love. You'd think with first memories of a horrendous team through the mid to late nineties I would have turned and run far, far away. But I didn't. I stood by this team, just as I do now because I love them unconditionally although it hurts a lot of the time. I don't know exactly where I was hooked forever but I know I am. Maybe it was the slick hands and awesome hair of Ziggy Palffy. Or perhaps it was the hard hitting, hard nosed style of Darius Kasparaitis? Could it be the legitimate tears that filled my eyes as Michael Peca disappeared into the locker room in 2002 after that cheap shot from Darcy Tucker? It might have been the literal seismic wave that eclipsed all of Nassau County after Shawn Bates buried that penalty shot against Curtis Joseph. All of these moments and more, knit themselves into a thread that binds all of us together.
I originally lived in Brooklyn, NY, which for those of you outside of New York is not very far from New York City, Madison Square Garden and the New York Rangers. I lived in Brooklyn as a kid for most of the 90's but couldn't tell you a damn thing about hockey. My closest friend and his father were die hard Rangers fans so every now and then I used to see a game on TV, especially when they were in the playoffs. But still, I couldn't say I knew much. Only when I went to my friends house would I pick up a plastic stick and fool around with a ball in his driveway, but other than that, the game of hockey was a complete unknown.
I moved to Long Island with my family in 1996. ...