It must begin with some statements, so you, dear reader, knows where this comes from. This comes from a place of love. Not malice. This comes from a place of care, not apathy.
I sit, with all four walls around my desk, adorned in some manner with Islander paraphernalia. I have something absurd like 60 autographs from the Islanders, past and present, on these walls. Of the t-shirts I wear, roughly a fifth of them bear that team’s name and or colors. I own 12 jerseys of this team. I state these things, not to shame your fandom or laud my own. I state them so you know where I am coming from.
I state them because I have made peace with and accepted the fact I will never be one of those who graduates from fan to professional insider. There are many reasons for this, which we will get to in short order, but for now, it is important to know I wear that badge of ‘fan’ not with shame, but with pride.
The logo of the House of El is an ‘S’ that represents hope. It is why it endures. That hope endures. Always.
Distilled into its simplest form, the logo of the Islanders is an ‘NY’ which in accompaniment of their full crest, represents their home. Moreso than any other team in the league, the Islanders wear their identity on a daily basis. That map of Long Island, with the ‘I’ pointing at Nassau Coliseum, the NY leaning over the Island with the hockey stick vigilant and at the ready with the 4 pieces of tape across it speaking to glory greater than any of you know, no matter how proud your team has made you. This representation of their home, adorned in the colors of that home, conjures an image of defiance.
Defiance has been the defining trait of this organization since its inception. Rather than the predetermined favorite moniker of ‘Ducks’, they chose Islanders like their geographical forefathers, the Iroquois before them. The name meant simply ‘people of the Long Island’ as the Iroquois name meant ‘people of the Long House’. It was an identification to state their modesty yet their distinction from the others in the area.
The colors of the team and its logo have served that defiance through a rise never since replicated and a fall never imagined. It has gone from symbolizing defiance of a supposed original 6 authority that demanded tribute and a league that said ‘you can’t!’ as well as expectations at every turn, to symbolizing a defiance of reason, criticism, self-respect and accountability.
I, like many others in this fanbase, literally bleed and hurt with this team. I have picked out a tattoo as a loveletter to this team, so when I say bleed, I mean that literally. This is not going to be easy to pen because it will cut very deep on those I know very well. It still must be written. I reiterate it is not written in malice, but in love. I have played hockey with our coaches. They are wonderful men. I have spoken in-depth to our General Manager. He is a passionate and candid man of conviction. I have shaken hands with nearly every player on that team. For the most part, they are caring, dutiful young hockey players. That is why this will hurt to write. But it must be done.
To paraphrase a great General: The toll this takes on the above listed will haunt me, but I have a duty to my people of this Island, a duty I will carry out at all costs. I exist as an independent correspondent covering this team, because I love these colors. I am a fan. That fandom, the glory of what those colors and that NY meant and by all rights should mean again is what drives me. I exist only to protect that crest. Every action I take, no matter how violent or how cruel, is for the good of that crest and my Islanders family. I can stand idly by no longer.
So now we are at the time, where a season wrought with great expectations has descended into calamity and despair. What can be done? What must be done? First we must answer this question: Where does blame lie? That list is long.
The easy narrative is that a fish rots from the head. And in this case, it’s very true. However, lets pay tribute to the team’s surprise playoff run last year and start from the bottom.
How can I blame the most dedicated fanbase in North America? All they do is endure serving after serving of fecal sandwiches and keep on coming back for more. Well, that is precisely why we are to blame. We never stop caring. Apathy is the only message that pierces the veil that Wang has cast over this franchise. Stop going. Stop buying merchandise. The team has a TV contract that doesn’t expire until 2031 and a lease in Brooklyn until 2041, don’t be bullied or threatened into supporting an inferior product. DO NOT LET YOURSELVES BE BLACKMAILED BY A CRIMINAL. Other than the games I have already committed to going to, I am not going to another game this season. I cannot continue to reward this level of organizational incompetence. I do that enough with the Dolphins.
The fans turned ‘Insiders’
You people are emblematic of a mindset and way of doing business that speaks to EVERYTHING Charles Wang is about. He took an honest but misguided idea (by a fan who rose through the ranks to become the team’s PR head!) to give fans access and turned that into the biggest farce in transparent coverage since Baghdad Bob. Fluff piece after fluff piece, softball after softball. Why? Because these ‘blog boxers’ have been bought and paid for. They proudly surrendered their fandom and their very souls to peddle in access and free admission to games as credentialed media.
None of them ever take the organization to task for it’s ridiculous practices, because they are a state sponsored media outlet. When one does speak out of turn? Just like the guy that hatched the idea, they get blackbagged in the middle of the night, discredited, and then erased. All is well for the most decrepit franchise in the Eastern conference the last 8 years. At least that’s what the ‘voices of the fanbase’ in the blog box will tell you.
Well, let me tell you something, blog boxers. I know you read this space, because your reactions make that clear. You are supposed to be the voice of the common fan? The common fan, collectively, has a message for you: YOU SUCK. You are your masters voice and your very presence disgusts those of us who still bleed these colors rather than who ourselves out for the dog treats you covet. You, aside from that criminal in the owners box, are the most revolting part of this mess. You are absolutely disgusting and should feel shame every damn day you dance your puppeteers dance to get another sucker to buy a Family Fun Pack. But hey, you can wash down that shame with a $5 dollar Pepsi in the pressbox. I’m sure every other organization charges the media for refreshments, too. You know what this fanbase would find refreshing? Some goddamn honesty.
The Coaching Staff
Now comes the hard part. I genuinely like these men. As I mentioned before, I’ve played with them! Dougie Weight is a legitimate candidate for greatest American hockey player ever. He is a HELL of a man. Brent Thompson is as loyal and passionate as they come. And neither one of them should be behind the bench for an NHL team. They both have at best minimal (in Doug’s case NO) experience in the professional coaching ranks before given the keys to the PP and PK respectively of an NHL Team. NOWHERE ELSE IN THE NHL WOULD THIS HAPPEN. I challenge you to find a coaching staff with shorter coaching resumes before their current job. I will wait.
That brings us to the man who Garth Snow once lauded as having ‘ Xs and Os second to none’. The New York Islanders head coach is Jack Capuano and he has no idea what he is doing. He is overmatched, left with no support, and at this point the best thing for him professionally is to be put out of his misery. He has lost the room. It’s painfully obvious. He is a players coach. The problem with a players coach is the boys will battle for you as long as they believe you’re the guy and as long as they like you. Now, the guys in the room still defend him, so I assume they still like him. But not a one of them believe in or more importantly fears him.
Capuano, like his 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th defensemen forced to pretend they are a top 4 is just in over his head. A little like his goalie prospect being forced to masquerade as an everyday NHL Goalie. This happens at every level of the Islanders organization. On the Ice, behind the bench, in the GM’s office and hell in the Game Ops and Marketing offices too.
People, GOOD HOCKEY PEOPLE, are asked to do more than they are physically or emotionally ready and or able to do because they are the best (cheapest and least likely to complain) candidates for the job. And I don’t BLAME THEM. Every last one of us would take a paycheck for a job slightly higher than our comfort level and figure we can learn on the job. If you say otherwise, you are a liar. However, OUTKICKING YOUR COVERAGE shouldn’t be an organizational hiring practice. For the Islanders, it’s a mantra.
The General Manager
This one cuts to the bone for me, I like this man. Garth is in many ways the perfect example of a self-made hockey man. He has my respect for that alone. He was a scrapper as a player and frankly, he still flashes those tendencies, which is why so many assume arrogance drives him. I do not personally believe that to be the case. I want to thank him for his service to this logo, this community, and his support of the You Can Play project. I also want to take this opportunity to wish him the best of luck on all his future endeavors.
I am one of his most longstanding supporters. Personally, I love the guy. That said, I am formally calling for his termination. It is not personal, it is simply business. I don’t even believe he’s as terrible as some would have you believe. I think he’s a very good talent evaluator and a GREAT cap-ologist. Garth’s problems are two-fold. He cannot deal with today’s players. He is old school. If a player wants money out of slot or grumbles about ice time, Garth unloads him.
That’s fine if you are the Detroit Red Wings and have your choice of free agents. We sign Jon Sim and Marty Reasoner in what we classify as an active offseason. We occasionally need a delicate touch to massage some egos. Garth doesn’t believe in that, which would serve him well on some teams, but not here. Additionally, Garth’s greatest assets, his ability to find players who have skill sets others don’t appreciate or to maneuver the salary cap are both used by his owner to justify circumventing the cap floor every year with reckless abandon.
Garth is very good at the cap, and Charles exploits that to stay under the salary floor. This, his strengths as an executive are used to actually hurt the organization because he is continually expected to do more with less. Then, as the coup de grace, Garth treats all negotiations as if they are player contract negotiations. He won’t overpay, even when he ought to. He won’t factor in what other GMs know his priorities in terms of team need are when making a deal, and thus continually cannot fill the same two needs of CREASE CLEARING DEFENSEMAN AND EVERYDAY NUMBER ONE GOALTENDER that have plagued this organization for innumerous fortnights.
Therefore, though he has my thanks for acquiring a great many players I value and treasure as Islanders, restocking our farm coffers and his support of the above mentioned YCP, he must leave his title as General Manager. Thankfully for him, he currently carries 4 other titles in the organization because the owner believes in paying as few people as possible.
Okay, we are done. On to what to do with this shipwreck going forward. Oh, I forgot someone, didn’t I? Oh, right. That’s right. Him.
My football team, as mentioned earlier, is the Miami Dolphins. The relevance here is that 2 weeks ago, that owner, Stephen Ross, someone I DETEST politically and frankly, think is inferior to Joe Fan as a football mind, stood on national television and OWNED a fiasco. As in took OWNERSHIP something OWNERS do. Ross promised the situation was unacceptable, could not happen again, and brought in both allies AND ENEMIES to insure there were no repeats of arguably the most embarrassing chapter in team history.
Charles Wang has a great many enemies, and he deserves every damn one. Count me among them. I’ve made it this far without swearing so the rest will be typed with blood-red fingers and clinched teeth. I. HATE. YOU.
We should be ideological allies, Chuck. After all, you are moving my team that is my identity (before gay, short, Italian, pudgy, funny, good-looking, even before BROOKLYNITE, I identify as an ISLANDER FAN) to my home. Do you mind if I call you Chuck? I really hope so.
Charles Wang made his fortune ruthlessly destroying the competition by undercutting them and then buying them out with his superior profit margin which he boosted by fuzzy-ing the math of acquired properties, pumping and dumping them. It’s why one of his best friends is in jail. This man is without question the most unsavory of all Islanders owners, including the con man who once bought the team with about as much money as I have. Hi Mr. Spano, hope all is well! The documentary was great.
Back to Mr. Wang. Mr. Wang doesn’t negotiate. Ever. He also doesn’t abide criticism. Criticism is dissent. Dissent is treason. Treason is punishable by exile. There is a white washed history of great Islanders who are persona non grata in Charles Wang’s building because they disagree. Tonelli. LaFontaine. BILLY SMITH. And many more, all never acknowledged because they have the audacity to presume to know more about a sport they excelled at then a computer salesman.
This, in the end, comes down to Mr. Wang and his organizational philosophy on two fronts. One he took from the playbook of Vince McMahon. Several WWE employees who were let go explained that Vince ‘values good soldiers more than talented soldiers’ and Garth enforces that doctrine to the letter. That doesn’t work when you won’t acquire free agents. That means you are shoving talent out the door with none coming back in.
Additionally, Mr. Wang cuts every conceivable corner he can. In addition to the unheard of practice of making media members (even the state sponsored ones!) pay for refreshments, he charges the few honored alumni he hasn’t excommunicated for parking. He has cut our talent evaluation to the smallest scouting department in the NHL and downsized our front office to bare bones. The few that remain are placed with more responsibility than they are ready for, over worked, and have nothing to fear as their loyalty is perceived to be intact.
This is of course all evident on the ice, where every year for the last 7 by seasons end we manage to ice one of the lowest on ice payrolls (not cap hit with it’s fake bonuses) in the NHL.
It’s a shame that Andersen of the Ducks wasn’t available when the New York Islanders were paid by Cody Rosen’s father to draft him. Oh? He was. My bad!
The Wang apologists will demand I give equal time and say HE SAVED THE TEAM!!!!!!1!!!!1!!!1!BBQ!!! I’m sorry, but that’s erroneous. I am not as plugged in as some state sponsored blog boxers (who I somehow scoop on news all the time?) but I have confirmed the BOG and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (who grew up a ISLANDERS fan) weren’t letting the winning-est US expansion team of them all with the 6th most Stanley Cups in the NHL leave it’s 4th most lucrative market area. I know that must be a shocking fact.
Mr. Wang cries poverty while exploiting a kickback lease his friend and outgoing county executive gave him while trying to argue one of the most lucrative TV contracts in the NHL isn’t hockey related revenue. Chuck, I reiterate, I hate you.
None of these things I’ve outlined as grievances ever get any play in the media. Why? Ask Chris Botta what happens when you say mean things about the Islanders. Your press pass disappears like it’s a third period lead.
What should be done?
Here is your bloodletting of a solution!
What the Islanders should do: Effective tomorrow, assign Doug Weight back to his assistant GM role. Assign Garth Snow back to his president of Hockey operations role. Strip both of all other titles. Have them and a panel of respected alumni begin a search for a new GM. Relieve Jack Capuano of his duties. Name Peter Laviolette head coach.
What the NHL should do: Fine the New York Islanders the maximum allowable amount under the league rules in terms of money and draft picks for cap floor circumvention.
What Islanders fans should do: Not spend a goddamn dime until honest change happens. And no, firing Jack and promoting one of his inexperienced assistants are not the droids we are looking for.
What the Blog Boxers should do: Resign in shame or at the very least drink a tall glass of SHUT UP juice. Find your fortitude, reclaim your fandom and take a damn stand, I’M BEGGING YOU. Lastly, the one of you who questioned MY loyalty while suckling the teat of corruption, asking if my pen name of RoseTintedVisor was supposed to be ‘ironic’. I will literally wave this flag until I die, and you will sit there and criticize me for having an agenda as you issue one free pass after another to this clown-shoes organization from your All-important grovel induced press pass perch? Choke on the next soda Wang invoices you for, fella.
I’ve done a lot for this fanbase and never asked FOR AN OUNCE OF CREDIT. I’ve organized sellouts when we were bad to thank the boys for a good roadtrip, I’ve pushed and helped chart the course for the first You Can play Night in AHL history for this organization, never asking for an ounce of compensation, because I LOVE THAT LOGO and believe in what it should be, not what it is.
That level of dedication takes a hiatus effective immediately. The only response I ever received from the team any way was being blocked and blacklisted for being too negative. After helping organize these things. Gratitude. This is the salvo to wake the masses. Do your part: GIVE. THEM. NOTHING. And let the hockey world know.
I’m out. You should be too until there is legitimate action taken.