(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey
Most Disappointing Team: 1993-94 New York Islanders
After a decade away from the Stanley Cup Final, the Islanders looked like a contending team again.
In 1992-93, a team of scrappy goofballs with a beloved coach overcame a gruesome injury to their star center to upend the defending Cup champions and make it all the way to the Prince of Wales Conference Final.
If that season was a fairy tale, 1993-94 was a direct-to-discount DVD torture porn movie.
The trouble started in the 1993 offseason, when Islanders GM Don Maloney gave up ace checking forward Tom Fitzgerald and goalie Glenn Healy in that year's expansion draft. Maloney also sent the team's other goalie, Mark Fitzpatrick, to Quebec for Ron Hextall, who was still despised by Islanders fans – and pretty much everyone else - from his days as a Philadelphia Flyer. The fans were never comfortable with Hextall and vice versa, and he went 27-26-6 in what would be his only season with the team.
They finished 36-36-12 and thanks to a bad, bad Atlantic Division, qualified for the playoffs. Where they were led like Long Island ducks to a slaughter.
The Islanders were utterly, hopelessly and traumatically destroyed by the Rangers in a sweep, surrendering six goals each game. The Islanders went home and the Rangers went... well, we don't need to talk about that. Salt in the wound: the back-up goalie for that Rangers team was none other than Glenn Healy.
If you look closely at an Islanders fan today even 20 years later, you can still see the scars from that season.
Most Disappointing Islander: Alexei Yashin
The Turtleneck Hall of Famer.
Here's a dirty little Islanders secret: Alexei Yashin was a pretty productive player for them. Seasons of 30, 26 and 28 goals and 0.84 points per game in his five seasons with the team isn't terrible.
Here's the problem: Two of the three players the Islanders gave up to the Ottawa Senators for Yashin were extraordinarily and comically productive above and beyond anything that Yashin accomplished as an Islander and long after he was bought out.
Lanky, penalty-prone freakshow defenseman Zdeno Chara blossomed into a All Star with Ottawa, and into a Norris Trophy mainstay, Stanley Cup captain and baby-eating boogieman with Boston. Jason Spezza, drafted with the Islanders' first-round pick in the trade, was good for a point per game across 11 seasons with the Senators despite some injury issues, a constantly shifting place in the line-up and annual attempts to run him out of town. His giggle is said to break glass in three counties.
That the Senators eventually lost both of them does little to ease the pain from all the forehead-slappping.
Yashin signed a 10-year, $80 million contract with the Islanders after being acquired in 2001. He was bought out in 2007 after a handful of first round playoff-losses, leadership questions and accruing enough baggage to fill MacArthur Airport. He'll finally come off the Islanders' books after this season.
Most Disappointing Moment in Islander History: Just one?
How about every game from 1995 to 2001? Or every November, when a lengthy annual losing streak derails the season before it even begins? Or every game Oleg Kvasha played for them? Or every game Roberto Luongo played for a team other than them? Or every playoff series since 1993? Or every threat of relocation, contraction or relegation that's been hurled at them for over 20 years? Or every day the team isn't sold to some young, energetic, money-flinging owner? Or the fact that every Nassau County politician who told their current billionaire owner, “no thanks, we don't want a new arena” were all re-elected last Fall?
Choosing the single most disappointing moment in Islanders history is like choosing the worst Kevin James movie or most reprehensible Real Housewife. Just pick one. We can go back-and-forth all day.
Most Disappointing Islanders Transaction: Rick DiPietro's 15-Year Contract
Rick DiPietro got too much money for too many years too soon. A contract borne of loyalty and hope became an emo suicide pact between lovestruck teenagers. Injury after injury, Rick tried to come back and year after year the Islanders ran him out there hoping he'd return to something resembling an average career. He didn't.
Eventually, the Islanders looked at the suicide pact and said, “what are we doing?” And they'll be paying DiPietro $1.5 million a year until 2029 because of it.
The DiPietro contract was such a disaster and the risks so severe and obvious that no NHL team ever gave out a long, lucrative contract to a goalie ever again, saving themselves from years of disappointment or a pricy buyout. Oh wait that's not what happened at all. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Most Disappointing Islanders Coach/Executive: Hahahahaha!
Imagine yourself as a child. Imagine a neighborhood bully coming to your house every few days for 10 years to break all your toys and give you wedgies and Indian burns just for fun.
Now imagine that bully getting a starring role in your favorite TV show. And every time you watch it, he talks about how great every other kid's toys are and how your toys are all worthless and broken.
The bully's name is Mike.
Most Disappointing Islanders Fashion Choice: Attack of the Fishermen
The only article of clothing in the history of Western Civilization to be ridiculed more often than the Islanders Fisherman jersey is Joel Schumacher's nipple-tacular Bat Suit.
The Fisherman, worn from 1995 to 96, is the tin standard among bad jersey designs. Every time a team introduces a new sweater, original thinkers across the internet race to message boards and comments sections to post a picture of the trippy wave-stripes and the oversized, bastardized logo and write “LOL at least it's not the Gortons Fishsticks!!!”
It was a bad jersey with a local - and completely tone-deaf and misguided – idea behind it. Fans hated it, media hated it, players hated it, ex-players hated it and within months, management was making plans to phase it out. After another decade of starts and stops, the Islanders finally returned to their proper colors – only to introduce another immediately mocked third jersey that was also exorcized in short order.
In other words, if you hate your team's jersey, let them know. Loudly. And be prepared to do it again if necessary.
• • •
Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Ottawa Senators • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Florida Panthers • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Chicago Blackhawks • Columbus Blue Jackets • Nashville Predators • Detroit Red Wings • Anaheim Ducks • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Vancouver Canucks • Toronto Maple Leafs
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