Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello at the team's training facility at Northwell Health...

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello at the team's training facility at Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

Stop selling the past. The Islanders owe it to their fans to be able to market the future.

The Islanders will wrap up their unsatisfactory 2023-24 campaign with exit interviews on Friday, three days after their season ended with a second straight first-round elimination to the Hurricanes in a 6-3 loss in Game 5. The players will then scatter for the summer, leaving behind big questions such as what direction the organization should take and how extensive must the offseason changes be to again make this team a Stanley Cup contender.

Having a dressing room full of BFFs, as the Islanders have had for quite some time, was a huge advantage in the team reaching the NHL semifinals in 2020 and 2021, especially in the COVID-19 playoff bubbles that first season. Now it seems the room has gotten too comfortable.

Coach Patrick Roy, whose hiring on Jan. 20 led to the Islanders qualifying for the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons under president/general manager Lou Lamoriello, did a good job in starting to reshape what he was working with into his aggressive image. A full training camp, as Roy will have in September, will give him the proper opportunity to proverbially put his skate up the players’ proverbial posteriors in terms of ramped-up conditioning.

The Hurricanes’ 10-1 goal advantage in the third period to cap a season’s worth of third-period letdowns speaks to that issue.

Both Roy and Lamoriello are scheduled to address the media on Friday after speaking with their players. That’s likely the first clue that Lamoriello not only expects to be back next season but that ownership likely wants the Hall of Fame executive, who turns 82 in October, to return.

So, presuming Lamoriello will steward the Islanders for a seventh season, how can the uber-secretive — and uber-competitive — overlord start brightening the organization’s future as it enters its fourth season at state-of-the-art UBS Arena, which was designed, in part, to attract top-flight free agents?

All it takes is an untrained eye (no jokes, please) to see the Islanders need to get younger and faster. True, top-pair defensemen Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov are both 24 and top-liner Mathew Barzal is only turning 27 later this month. But the Islanders’ average age of 29.4 was the oldest among the Eastern Conference’s playoff qualifiers and the third oldest among the 16 postseason teams.

Plus, after trading his last four first-round picks for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Kyle Palmieri, Romanov and Bo Horvat, the Islanders’ minor-league system is short — some outlets have rated it as devoid — of elite prospects.

But trying to sell the fan base on another season with the same old gang will not resonate. Yes, yes, yes, the group has moxie, resilience, character, whatever positive adjective that can be applied. But it’s equally true the group has proved over the last three seasons it has gone as far as it will go.

The organization — Lamoriello and players included — cannot keep referring to the 2020 and 2021 playoff runs as evidence more of the same is coming.

There must be a new era for the franchise to galvanize the fans.

Reaching back further, and saying this will all due and utmost respect, the great dynasty that GM Bill Torrey and coach Al Arbour built that yielded four Cups from 1980-83, has no relevance now. That came from my childhood. There are generations (plural) of Islanders’ fans born after that all happened.

The Scott Malkin-led ownership, with great effort by co-owner Jon Ledecky, has done a fantastic job reconnecting with the Islanders’ alumni.

Yet, it often seems at UBS Arena the organization is trying to sell season tickets for the 1984-85 season, not 2024-25, with all the nods to past glories.

But all the deference to the 1970s and 1980s also highlights that this is an organization that has not qualified for a Cup Final since 1984 and has been to the conference final just three times since then. It’s a reminder this organization did not qualify for the playoffs between 1995-2001 and did not advance out of the first round between 1994-2015.

And now the Islanders have not gotten out of the first round since 2021.

So stop selling the past. Make a better future.


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