If Twitter comments were the only barometer, the average Islanders’ fan could best be described as angry.
Very, very angry.
Disgusted is in the ballpark, too.
Screaming for change would also be a fair assessment.
Veteran left wing Andrew Ladd, one of the targets of the online unrest between his seven-year, $38.5-million deal that has five seasons remaining and a 25-game goal-less streak that stretched from Dec. 23-March 15, gets it.
“I think there’s probably some added unrest because of the move to Brooklyn,” Ladd said. “When you’ve had a fan base in the same spot and with a great history of having won four Stanley Cups and the legends that have come through here and having moved the team and having them go through that, things have gotten a little unsettled from that standpoint. And we haven’t had success the last couple of years. I think that’s probably where it comes from.”
It’s true the Islanders have missed the playoffs the past two seasons and for the eighth time since Garth Snow was named general manager on July 18, 2006.
But the franchise rot goes back further, through the ownership turmoil of the 1990s, as the Islanders’ first-round win over the Panthers in 2016 stands as the franchise’s lone playoff series win since 1993.
The four straight Cups from 1980-83 seems like a different lifetime at this point.
Then again, Ladd also sees the bigger picture which is, often, it’s the fans’ natural default setting to be angry.
“I don’t know if it’s any different from other fan bases,” Ladd said. “In Winnipeg, it was the same thing. We weren’t winning and people weren’t happy and that’s part of being a fan of a team and being passionate about it.”
Barzal factors in
Among the many questions asked to impending unrestricted free agent John Tavares this week as he approached what might be his final game with the Islanders was whether the rapid development of rookie center Mathew Barzal, the expected Calder Trophy winner as the NHL’s rookie of the year, would be among the factors he would consider when deciding whether to continue his career with the team.
“It’s a fair question,” Tavares said. “I think everything will be part of it. There’s no question he’s a special talent. He’s had a remarkable season and he’s just scratching the surface. It’s been a lot of fun playing with him and I know he’s got a great future. But being where we are, missing the playoffs, is tough. We’ll be watching again. It’s another missed opportunity.”
Rookie defenseman Ryan Pulock joined Barzal and veteran right wing Jordan Eberle in accepting an invitation to play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships in Denmark from May 4-20.
Pulock helped Team Canada to a bronze medal in the World Under-18 championships in 2012.
“It’s a huge honor,” Pulock said. “Just being asked and being able to go and represent your country on the big stage like that, it’s exciting and I’m looking forward to it.
“I don’t think I was necessarily expecting it,” Pulock added. “I feel very confident in my game and the way I’ve kind of finished out my year. But when they call, it’s definitely an honor.”
Forward Shane Prince was able to return to the Islanders’ lineup on Thursday after missing 33 games with a lower-body injury, a frustrating absence considering he’s playing for a new contract. The 25-year-old is an impending restricted free agent with arbitration rights as he completes a two-year, $1.7-million deal.
“It’s not really how you want it to go,” Prince said. “I feel 100 percent. It’s good to get into a couple of games and feel good going into the offseason regardless of what happens in the offseason. I’m not really nervous, I know what I’m capable of and I’ll be able to prove myself, hopefully here but, if not, somewhere else. I hope it’s here. It’s really not in my hands.”
Islanders coach Doug Weight has repeated injuries cannot be used as an excuse for this season’s failures. However, it is true the Islanders have been hit hard by the injury bug this season compared to previous ones.
Man games lost to injury.
2017-18 (prior to Saturday’s finale): 320