December 12, 2010

Quebec Nordiques, Mohawks, Bad Goals, Tavares Fights...Isles Lose

3:42 PM - As promised, we have posted our latest podcast here. We went over a wide variety of topics from the last two weeks since we did not get a chance to get together and record last week. A majority of this podcast is spent talking about news items from the past several days, with some emphasis on the Larry Brooks opinion piece last Sunday and the plight of the Nordiques fans last night.

Enjoy it, and once again, welcome new followers.

9:53 AM - As far as out of the ordinary and compelling are concerned, this game was the most of both as we've seen this season.

As I sit down here to write this, I realize that there are many different angles one can take this from. There was undoubtedly a lot to this game, with a very wide range of emotions that often changed from one minute to the next.

Obviously, the biggest story line of the game was the loyal fans of the now-defunct Quebec Nordiques coming down for the game. As they said in the various different articles written about their plight, they were not in essence here to tell the league that they need to move one of these two teams, rather that they think the league made a big mistake in depriving them of NHL hockey in the first place (and they did). Many of the folks who spoke with Isles fans basically reiterated this, but said that obviously if it came to moving a team they were more interested in the Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers and the Florida Panthers.

The Islanders welcomed the folks from Quebec City by giving them a shout out during one of the intermissions. I know a number of fans took exception to this, but the Islanders knew about this trip, and in essence really had nothing they could do about it. Besides, they were all rooting for the Islanders, starting pro-Isles chants, and it was the loudest and most passionate group of "Isles" fans that have been in there in quite a while.

The Nordiques supporters - all 1,200 of them - were very respectful. I know many Isles fans went in feeling threatened, but came home pleasantly surprised at how things went. Like I said, it added some much needed energy into the building.

Like I said earlier, the Quebec Nordiques never should have left. Perhaps that is the small market fan in me talking, but it seemed like the wrong thing to do. Sean and I have made our feelings known on this both here in this space and on the podcast. In fact, Sean took the time to compare the Nordiques situation to our own here after they had the Blue March in October. I know for me personally, I hope something there works out. Of course, my dream scenario includes the Islanders here in Long Island.

I mentioned that some fans took exception to the Islanders welcoming the fans to the building. While I don't think it was really necessary to do that, I'm not going to go all bonkers on the organization for acknowledging the fact that a good chunk of the crowd was there to make a statement. Besides, when one looks at the Islanders situation, perhaps the organization fed off of the energy from the Quebec fans. This could have been them sort of telling Nassau County "we support this, you better not make us leave." They could have EASILY used this as a threat. Think about it - you have 1,000+ screaming their heads off for a cause they believe in while the Islanders can't seem to make any progress on any type of development, regardless of who you blame.

Meanwhile, former Nordiques goalie and current Islanders GM Garth Snow took the time to address the media ahead of this game. That is something that Isles fans know the GM doesn't do very often. It's on the Islanders home page under a tab titled "Future." Point blank, Snow tells everyone that the Islanders will play until their lease is up and not any longer than they have to. This has been the company line, but Snow has always stepped away from anything regarding the building. Lately, he has been pretty adamant about not playing in the building after 2015. The whole experience is something the Islanders could easily set up to their own benefit when it comes to their situation here.

I will say, however, that both Kate Murray and Charles Wang are to blame for what's going on here as both have been stubborn on several different issues. By many accounts, Murray is willing to discuss things more regarding her counter while Wang wants to hear none of it.

Thanks to those from Quebec. I see that I am getting an unusual amount of traffic from Canada tonight, so a big welcome to those of you who are first time readers. We hope you do stick around and continue reading here in the future as true hockey fans. The Isles fans appreciated how classy you acted tonight, and how you really energized the crowd with your pro-Isles chants. It made the experience a lot more enjoyable than it has been in the last two months.

Meanwhile, fans of the Nordiques, Isles and Thrashers got to see quite the game. It had a little of everything it seems, including the Islanders blowing yet another lead.

Prior to the game, the Islanders decided to do a team bonding exercise in the form of giving everyone on the team mohawks. As Zenon Konopka said on the Twitter video, they feel that they are a tight knit group and wanted to try something to change their luck. It didn't.

The Islanders were actually playing really well until two fluke goals did them in. I can't really describe them because they were the strangest that I've seen, but Rick DiPietro's reaction here pretty much summed up the game nicely.

After the 2nd odd goal, Howie Rose explained that this game could blow the roof off of the Islanders frustrations. On the very next play, that is exactly what happened when John Tavares slashed Alexander Burmistrov across the back to goad him into a fight/wrestling match. Tavares was essentially done for the game, which had just a tick under five minutes remaining. It was certainly a questionable and surprising set of actions from the usually mild mannered Tavares.

The Islanders would try to battle back, getting a goal on the power-play late in the game to cut the Thrashers lead to one. It was their first PP goal in 47 opportunities. By this portion of the third, many of the Quebec fans had moved down behind the Thrashers goal and all you saw was powder blue jerseys with an occasional Isles royal blue mixed in. Their reaction to the Isles goal was pretty neat and generated a lot of noise that in turn made the Islanders buzz, getting some other excellent chances in the final minute plus with DiPietro pulled. Unfortunately, they would fall short.

Like I said, the Islanders had a fairly solid effort until the 3rd, when it all unravelled and collapsed after two bad, weak goals. It was certainly a very fitting end for what ended up becoming a very strange and very odd day.

PODCAST COMING: Sean and I will be returning after our brief hiatus and will record a podcast on Sunday morning. Be sure to check out the podcast site for those of you who are not already subscribed. If you aren't you can do so following the link.


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