What’s Your First Islanders Memory?
I was at the game last night when the Islanders lost to the Ottawa Senators 6-5. It was obviously a high scoring affair, with goals all over the place due to a combination of great offense and terrible defense. I looked around the Barclays Center and although the Islanders have come so far from the mid 90’s, the crowd was still sparse and there wasn’t the sense of energy I expected. I fully expect that to change come playoff time, but it’s still a little disheartening to see.
The reason why I’m writing all of this is because the sparse crowd, the poor defense and the lack of energy brought me back to my very first Islanders memory. This isn’t supposed to be a negative piece. If anything, it should be a positive one, showing just HOW FAR the Islanders have come since John Spano was owner and Mike Milbury ruled the land.
The year was 1997 and I was five years old when I went to one of my first Islanders game. It couldn’t have been my first, but this one in particular was my first memory at the Coliseum. It was a cold January night & the Islanders were one of the worst teams in the league. There were maybe 7,000 people at the Nassau Coliseum, half of them being fans of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders were in their last year of the dreaded Fisherman jerseys, and even though the team was bad, they had an absolute star in Zigmund Palffy. It’s funny looking back on the Fisherman jerseys, especially now that their looked at as a novelty item. They’re even giving them away at the Barc when you buy a ticket plan this year. What a world. Anyway, the Isles lost 5-2 that night, on their way to a division worst 29-41-12 record.
Over the next few years, Milbury traded Zigmund Palffy, Todd Bertuzzi, Roberto Luongo, Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara, Bryan McCabe, just to name a few. Spano was found to have purchased the Islanders with fake money and was sentenced to jail time for all sorts of fraud. The franchise was in turmoil and it was a low point of this once proud franchise.
For all you young Islanders fans, you probably have seen a similar circumstance in your lifetime. The first few years after the Michael Peca era were very lean. In John Tavares’ first few seasons, the team was abysmal and I am so thankful that the Islanders are in Brooklyn (as much as we all hate it) and thriving.
What was your first Islanders memory? Was it a happy one, like the Shawn Bates penalty shot against the Leafs in the 2002 playoffs? Was it one similar to mine, where there seemed to be no hope in sight? Either way, it’s been a long and winding roller coaster ride for us Islanders fans. It’s nice to have ownership who truly cares, as well as a great product on the ice.
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