Eulogy: Remembering the 2014-15 New York Islanders

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Frans Nielsen #51 of the New York Islanders reacts to the game winning goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Capitals defeated the Islanders 2-1 to win the series 4 games to 3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hate them the most. Well, usually. Our original Islanders eulogizer had to drop out, so the caustic and wonderful Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey, an Islanders blog, stepped up with a self-loathing remembrance of the team. Enjoy!) 

By Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey

The 2014-15 New York Islanders died as they mostly lived: flat on their asses.

The Islanders’ not-unexpected death at the hands of the Washington Capitals on Monday allows us to reflect upon their most defining characteristics, namely their steadfast refusal to accomplish anything of consequence and their eternal ability embarrass themselves on a national stage.

In their final act against the Caps, the Islanders mustered just 11 shots on goal, or less shots than a Liberal Arts major at Hofstra does before their first class of the day. They also scored exactly zero power play goals in the series, a feat so stupefying in its brazen incompetence that it could be an Adam Sandler movie.

But that pathetic performance in the biggest game the franchise has seen in two decades was a blessing to us all. The Islanders gave us a special gift - the ability to continue to use them as a convenient punchline and as the shorthand for every irrelevant, second-class non-team in North America.

Had they won the series, or at least finished by putting up a fight, all of those jokes about elephantine contracts, sumo goalies, historically awful trades, wasted draft picks, terrible jersey choices and back-up goalie GMs would have been rendered useless. Instead, thankfully, the Islanders are gone and immediately forgotten and we all can all go back to our normal routine for at least another year with a new shameful episode to add to the list.

The Isles lived fast, spending most of the first half of the season at or near the top of the Eastern Conference, and died young, falling in a mere seven games to a Washington team with a postseason history as worthless as the lawmakers that won’t be caught dead at their games. It was sad to see a team so fresh-faced cut down before they reached the age to drive themselves to the second round. Whether the Islanders left a beautiful corpse (in the form of a bright future), is the only hope left for their fans who once again have to hope that a brutal season-ending loss is a “learning experience” and not an “annual experience.”

They have always been a team of the people, often taking down-and-out transients off the streets, bringing them home, cleaning them up, and giving them a hot meal and an honest day’s work. That’s how the Islanders found current head coach Jack Capuano, who was swabbing fish guts off a charter boat in Moriches Bay Marina when he was given a Dry Erase board and a couple of suits from the Salvation Army before being installed behind the bench. The players love “Cappy” the way they love a distant uncle that has a history of drunken bar fights and quitting dead end jobs but always has the best stories and knows how to score free floor seats to Aerosmith concerts.

The Islanders leave behind an estate that conveniently already includes a mausoleum. Nassau Coliseum, once the site of many glories but abandoned and left all but condemned by its home county decades ago, will be without a main tenant next season. The building is an ugly, faded, moldy, disconcertingly sticky, smelly, stuffy, cramped, Stone Age shell of a husk of a hovel, remarkable in its aggressive un-remarkableness. It was once the home of one of sports greatest dynasties, a franchise that rose from an obscure expansion team playing in the middle of nowhere to an obscure four time Stanley Cup champion playing in the middle of nowhere. 

The locals say, “It’s a dump, but it’s our dump.” That’s good, because they’re the ones whose tax dollars are going to pay for its conversion from beloved community hub to the World’s Largest Pigeon Toilet over the next few years.

The team's body will be interred in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center starting next October. The state-of-the-art arena has everything a modern fan could want except for seats that allow them to see the game. A common perception is that Brooklynites are humorless, craft beer-swilling, ironic hair-sporting, vintage clothes-hoarding art school drop outs that won't care a whit about the NHL. But that couldn't be further from the truth. The snobbishly elitist Brooklyn Hipster is perfectly suited for hockey, a sport whose fans complain incessantly about a lack of widespread attention and yet instantly harangue newcomers as "bandwagon jumpers" unless they fulfill some arbitrary and always shifting criteria for entry into their exclusive club.

The Islanders are survived by a fanbase that is devastated to be losing the friendly neighborhood team that they supported through thick and thin for over 40 years, just as long as they were winning. And were playing someone good. And not playing on a weeknight. And it wasn’t raining. Or cold. And if they just weren’t feeling up for going, fans could always sell their tickets to any misanthropic Rangers fan neighbors, who would happily make the 20 minute round trip to boo the home team against whoever they were playing.

Many fans feel betrayed and have vowed to not see the team in Brooklyn, choosing instead to stay at home lighting candles and squeezing rosary beads into powder until God summons The Rapture to turn back the clock to a time when the Islanders were kings, gas cost a quarter a gallon, and the world did not yet know the dangers of aerosol hairspray on the stupid environment.

They are also not expected to vote in their next local election.

We asked some Islanders fans to offer their condolences for their team. Most of them were too busy vandalizing cars and throwing debris on the Coliseum ice to speak. But the ones that agreed to go on the record gave answers that were heartfelt and poignant, and perfectly captured the team’s monumental impact on their community.

“Brooklyn might as well be Kansas City! I ain’t gettin’ on no train. I’ll NEVER go to see them AGAIN!,” said Marilu Trenomalo, who thinks Arkansas is the second largest city in Kansas.

“Guess I’ll just cheer for the Rangers now. I like to see New York win,” said Mario Del Idiotta, a longtime Islanders, Rangers, Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, Red Bulls and NYCFC fan who was once nearly run over by a bus while staring at clouds in the middle of the street.

“I normally like them, but this time it just wasn’t funny. I expected better,” Islanders fan Desiree Papa said of her team’s quick and unfortunate demise. Many will agree.

In lieu of flowers, the Islanders ask that mourners make generous donations to their charity organization, The Re-Sign John Tavares in 2018 Project.

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