We come here today to mourn the lost on Long Island. Don't worry -- Rick DiPietro was still just joking.
No, we congregate to appreciate the passing of the 2013 New York Islanders.
Oh, it was quite the run -- one that will be remembered for the 15 minutes it takes all of their new fans to put their still-tagged sweaters back in storage.
And perhaps they'll reminisce fondly in the future, a few years down the line, when they sell those blue and orange atrocities at Goodwill stores to Brooklyn hipsters who find them ironic.
"Dude, there was really someone named Okposo!"
A few old-school fans finally returned to Uniondale and got all weepy for the days past, before Fort Neverlose was an asbestos-filled …stinking eyesore that even Mr. Optimist Gary Bettman admitted was a dump four years ago. But, before the bandwagon arrived when Crosby came to town for Game 3, the Isles averaged 617 less fans per game than the Coyotes.
The Phoenix Coyotes.
But the building filled up for those three playoff games, and the bandwagon arrived in time to see the first home playoff win in 11 years with Game 4. Alas, there were no heroics to be had in Game 6. No J.P. Parise, no Nystrom, no Tonelli, no Volek. Just a victory lap, after being eliminated.
Get one thing streit or strait or straight (whatever): This very well may have been the first step for a young side on their way to Stanley.
It's that thought that keeps me up at night.
But it does come after years and years of peaceful sleep, full of calm dreams of Mike Milbury's failures and John Spano's "fortunes".
The Isles were the lesser of two evils, a shocking turn for the franchise that used to employ Satan himself - no, not Miro - Denis Potvin.
As have the Isles since he retired, for years and years and years and years. The Penguins tanked for quite some time to build their pool of top prospects and the Isles have managed to avoid mismanagement for long enough to start to do the same. John Tavares, Casey Cizikas, Brock Nelson … and a bunch of other kids who aren't in the NHL yet.
Sure the busts are still around - Michael Grabner and Josh Bailey combined for a one goal in the series - but if a million monkeys on a million typewriters can pen Shakespeare, surely the Isles front office can come up with a competitive roster.
But we didn't come here to laud the losers, we gathered to bury them. In spite of reality, they had such high hopes - hopes that they could finish higher than the Rangers. How quaint. Unfortunately for them, reality set in at the worst possible time and three straight losses to finish the regular season left them a point behind the Blueshirts.
The playoffs started in predictable fashion, with the Islanders getting annihilated by the Penguins 5-0. Then the incalculable arrogance of Marc-Andre Fleury actually gave the Isles a real chance, but Dan Bylsma came to his senses and saved the series by starting Tomas Vokoun before it was too late.
Despite the blown-dry glory that was Jack Cap's coif, the coach couldn't coax Tim Thomas to show up. The Isles were stuck with Evgeni Nabokov and, as Sharks fans can attest, that doesn't bode well when looking for postseason glory.
Speaking of Snow and a lack of contributions: Brad Boyes.
After justifying fighting's place in postseason play, Kyle Okposo's fists couldn't do anything to change the team's fortunes over the final two games and Matt Moulson went missing for three.
In the end, Pittsburgh prevailed and put off the future for another season. Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik put shots off posts and the Pens came from behind to close out the Isles on Saturday night. That it came down to a Game 6 is ridiculous, but Bylsma's boys had to learn that even a young, ugly dog has a bit of a bite.
Like Cizikas, the Islanders took one across the chin and were blooded. The kid survived and stepped back on the ice as good as ever; how his team fares next fall that is yet to be seen.
The series was an educational experience for the young Isles, and for everyone else as well.
I mean, who knew Marty Reasoner was still in the NHL?
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