HAPPY OPENING DAY! This is the day a long-suffering Islanders fan has been waiting for all winter. More on the upcoming baseball season in a bit, but first, let me put a wrap on the Islanders talk for the season...well, at least until the Draft comes around...
As much as I would have liked to detail every game -- most of them losses (yeah, we've got a lot of them) -- there are plenty of other news outlets to get your Islanders information (well, a couple...Newsday.com and islanderspointblank.com are my two sources).
Much like Newman's comment that he can barely tell the difference between generic wax beans and the regular kind, I think if I continued that stream of consciousness, we would have officially bottomed out.
During this hockey season, I have watched the Islanders sink into oblivion, but rise with the youngsters on the road to respectability. Of course, it does not mean much unless you can do it when the pressure is on and the pressure will not be on until next fall. It became apparent early that this team was not going to push for a postseason berth. The initial talent level made it tough to begin with, but 550+ man-games lost will also do that to you.
It has been fun watching these Islanders since the All-Star Break. I feel like a hockey dad, watching the young team and feeling proud of them when they score a goal, make a great save, or have a good shift. The Isles have to start with the building blocks of a solid franchise because the franchise itself is being rocked to its foundations.
The really sad part in all of this is the possibility the Islanders may move -- to Kansas City, Saskatoon, Hamilton, or wherever outside of the area. The first preference is to stay at the Coliseum and see the Lighthouse Project come to fruition. If they move to Suffolk County, I might still go to the games if it is not that far out on the Island. Queens would be the best move, both for the team's relevance in the New York sports scene, but also as a "partner" to the Mets and new Citi Field.
I have only one problem with moving to Queens, and it is not alienating the East Enders because, after all, I have made the trip from Northern New Jersey as a season ticket holder since 2002. My issue is that we would be losing part of our identity as a small-town team with a close-knit group of people you recognize at the games, again and again. My fear is that this would become "too corporate" an organization. While it may be a good thing for the level of play and stature among the nine major pro sports teams in this town, the Islanders and the gameday experience would lose its kitsch. But, if you put a beautiful new arena next to Citi Field, what a destination it would be?!
So, the season was tough to take, but hopefully, Islander fans will look back on this season as some formative training for the years -- and successes -- ahead.
The fantasy hockey season has been a big success. Our 8th full season of the Puck & Stick Association (PSA) is culminating in a big Goodman Cup Final between two charter members of the league: the Long Island Sounds (owned by yours truly) and the New England Slam Chowdah (owned by Jon Strauss). We are entering the final week of the three-week final and Long Island leads by 39 points, 272.2-233.2. Here are the rest of the scores for the Goodman Cup Playoffs up to this point:
GOODMAN CUP SEMIFINALS
Game "A": #1 New England (17-5) vs. #4 Saint John (12-10)
Too little, too late for Saint John, getting blitzed in Week 1 of the two-week match by 45 points, as the Stompin' Toms 146.6 points in Week 2 did not make up enough ground.
FINAL: #1 New England (Jon Strauss) 237.0, #4 Saint John (Tim Bresnahan) 223.3
Game "B": #3 Long Island (12-10) vs. #2 Yukon (13-9)
Long Island was lucky to snatch the third seed from Saint John in the final week because the Sounds scored less than New England, but advances to the Final by playing the only team that scored less than Long Island. Long Island was consistent, scoring 110.6 in Week 1 and 110.4 in Week 2.
FINAL: #3 Long Island (George Stathopulos) 221.0, #2 Yukon (Eric Brown) 166.8
GOODMAN CUP FINAL
#1 New England (18-5) vs. #3 Long Island (13-10)
Consistency has been a boon to Long Island again, fetching 136.3 in Week 1 and 135.9 in Week 2. Long Island has built a 39-point lead after two weeks in this three-week match, but New England is coming on with 134.9 points in Week 2 to only drop one point further behind.
AFTER 2 WEEKS (1 week left): #3 Long Island 272.2, #1 New England 233.2
NEWMAN CUP FINAL (for 3rd place)
In a not-so-rare occurrence, teams from this game outscore both teams in the Goodman Cup Final for the championship. But, both teams are outscoring both teams in the Goodman Cup Final. The game is tight, as Saint John had the upper hand by 47.8 points in Week 1 and Yukon returned the favor, outscoring Saint John by 37.4 points in Week 2. This makes for a contest that will go to the wire.
AFTER 2 WEEKS (1 week left): #4 Saint John 285.2, #2 Yukon 274.8
In the Loser's Bracket Playoffs, #9 Pittsburgh (Sarah Jorgensen) got by #8 Chicago (Pete Yunger), 194.0-186.1, and the Pumpkins are facing rival (and husband) #5 Rochester (Greg Jorgensen). After 2 weeks, Rochester is leading handily by 115 points, 307.4-192.4.