The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Saturday night for their second to last home game of the regular season at Nassau Coliseum. In honor of the fact that the Islanders will soon be leaving Nassau County for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the franchise dedicated this evening’s game to a few select players that have played major roles for this team over the past four decades.
Such players included Ed Westfall, Gary Howatt, Bobby Nystrom, Butch Goring, Ken Morrow, Pierre Turgeon, Steve Webb, Eric Cairns and Shawn Bates.
Each player was honored with a video tribute highlighting their contributions to the franchise during their respective decades.
Let us go back to the 2012 NHL Draft. The Islanders fan base buzzed when news spread that you were traded to solidify a blue line that could benefit from your experience and impressive play.
A lot of fans moved to YouTube to find out more about a player that spent his whole career in the Western Conference. They didn't know much more than how cool your last name would look on an Islanders sweater. (Photo Credit: Daralee's Web World Photos)
It was hard for the fans to hide their excitement when they saw this addition that could help immediately. It was a breath of fresh air that someone added to the roster could help right away. Not in 2 years. Not in 1 year. But now. Garth Snow had done a great job in executing this trade.
That ended almost immediately when you filed a grievance with the NHL, trying to void the trade. This wasn't a great way to endear yourself to a fan base. They were willing to put that aside once the case was settled and the trade was indeed valid.
There was a sense that you did not want to be in Uniondale. You are not alone in this. You are not the first player, nor will you be the last player to claw in the doorway on the way to Long Island. But the actions of your peers do not excuse your behavior.
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 first player that will be looked at in the new revamped ‘Where Are They Now’ is Brad Isbister. For those who don’t remember Isbister was apart of the Islanders team that finished 5th in the Eastern Conference and lost in seven games to the Maple Leafs in 2001-2002 season.
Isbister was drafted in the 3rd (67th overall) 1995 NHL draft by the Winnipeg Jets; this was the same draft the Islanders selected Wade Redden then moved him in a package to the Ottawa Senators for the 1st overall pick in 1995 Bryan Berard.
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.