New York Islanders
The Canadian Press

The Islanders Are Finally Getting Some Respect

For most of my life, the New York Islanders have been a laughingstock, and it is difficult to imagine their dynastic years given how poorly owned and managed the team has been. However, the past half-decade has easily been the best stretch for the Islanders since their 4-year dynasty from 1980-1983, as a complete culture change on the part of ownership, management, and coaching has made the Islanders a great hockey team and destination franchise again. For the second straight year, they have made it to the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, where they are once again locking horns with the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning, and the team’s following has increased dramatically since the bubble. Recent data from betonline.ag show that the Isles have become America’s team, as most fans across the United States are rooting for the orange and blue. The Islanders are truly the NHL’s latest rags to riches story.

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The Origins Of This Turnaround

Youtuber UrinatingTree also does a great job of explaining these past few years for the Islanders, but it was only back in 2017 when this team was in dire straights. Led by former captain John Tavares and Mathew Barzal, the Isles were a pretty strong offensive team but could not defend a traffic cone. Head Coach Doug Weight and GM Garth Snow were among the worst at their jobs in the league and the new ownership group struggled to convince their captain to stay long-term, not to mention the team was about to lose their home arena – Barclays Center was prepared to kick them out for their abysmal attendance numbers. Fast forward to 2021 and the outlook of the team is much better. The 2018 hires of two Hall-of-Famers in Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have completely reversed the team’s fortunes. The Isles’ offense has taken a pretty significant hit, headlined by Tavares’ departure, but the team defense has turned into the backbone for this team. Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock went from questionable commodities to one of the best pairings in the NHL this season. Goaltending coach Mitch Korn has produced some absolute gems in the Long Island crease, from Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss to the standout Russian duo of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin.

Now And What Comes Next

Owners John Ledecky and Scott Malkin have also done a tremendous job behind the scenes, as the Isles are set to move into the brand-new UBS Arena at the start of the 2021-2022 season. Fans can now breathe a sigh of relief and truly say goodbye to the Nassau Coliseum as they prepare to begin a new era next to the Belmont Racetrack. Despite being doubted heavily during their past 2 playoff runs, coach Trotz has once again shown his incredible ability to do less with more. Bossman Hockey Guy Trey affectionately calls Trotz “The Hobbit”, but he has turned this squad into a serious thorn in opponents’ sides. With Tampa up in the series, it might not be the year of the Island, but it is a night and day improvement compared to the prior years. Former players are now champing at the bit to show their pride and support, which is nearly unheard of other than from the heroes of the dynasty. In any case, the Coliseum and its passionate fans will continue to stick around until either a heartbreaking elimination or an unlikely Stanley Cup triumph. For the first time in quite a while, the New York Islanders are only a few pieces away from being a genuine contender.

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