The Mets were giving up six runs to the Cubs in the first inning on Wednesday night but the 27 members of the Islanders’ Booster Club were having their own fun in the right field stands, starting a “Let’s Go Islanders” chant and then singing the “Hey, Josh Bailey” song.
It was Islanders’ Night at Citi Field a week from the opening of the team’s first training camp under Lane Lambert. And the five Islanders’ players in attendance affirmed to Newsday their new coach’s statement from the day before that they have something to prove after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2018 following back-to-back trips to the NHL final four.
“I think we definitely have stuff to prove,” defenseman Scott Mayfield said. “I think last year was a failure. I don’t think it was the hockey that we want to put out there. We had a long time to think about it, which is not what we’re used to the last couple of years.
“I think we need to show that the last three years, the first two were the legit Islanders. And last year was not. I think that’s what we have to prove.”
Added Josh Bailey, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, “Let’s just have a good, solid training camp and make sure we’re ready come out night one. With our group, there’s a lot of familiarity. We know what it takes to get to the level we need to get to. I think you’ve got to embrace that challenge.”
And both defenseman Adam Pelech and forward Anthony Beauvillier said the Islanders enter the new season with a “chip on our shoulder.”
“Everyone definitely has a chip on their shoulder,” Pelech said. “Everyone is excited to get back at it. We feel like we have something to prove. As a group and myself, we’re really looking forward to training camp and excited to get it underway.”
The Islanders players, including Ross Johnston, were joined at Citi Field by co-owner Jon Ledecky.
Ledecky sat in on Buck Showalter’s pre-game press conference, later chatting privately with the Mets manager about his friendship with fired Islanders coach Barry Trotz from their days when Trotz coached the Washington Capitals and Showalter managed the Baltimore Orioles.
Ledecky was given a tour of the Mets’ indoor batting cages and facilities. On the field, Ledecky chatted with several fans, including Bill Gandolfi, 64, of Middle Village, who was wearing an altered Islanders’ home blue jersey with a Mets’ logo instead on the front and the Mets’ “NY” on the shoulders. Gandolfi said a friend of his made the unique jersey for him.
Ledecky was joined on the field by Mets’ co-owner Alex Cohen and caught up with Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo, a close friend, before later visiting the booster club in Section 103.
First, Ledecky recalled his first time on a Major League Baseball field in 1974 at Shea Stadium as a 16-year-old high school reporter for the Greenwich (Connecticut) Times, nervously interviewing then-Yankees manager Bill Virdon and Lou Piniella.