When most hockey fans hear the name Josh Bailey, they think of your slightly above average second or third line winger. But for some unnecessary and absurd reason, whenever fans of the New York Islanders hear that name, there is so much more to it.
Josh Bailey was selected ninth overall by the Islanders in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He had a fine first season as a rookie, putting up 25 points (7G 18A) in 68 games. The following five seasons (not including 2012-13 where he only played 38 games due to injury) he put up somewhere between 28-41 points each year, slightly increasing each season. Then in the 2015-16 season he dropped back down to 32 points. And that very season is when I believe all of the crazy criticism surrounding Josh Bailey really began. The 2015-16 season certainly wasn’t a great season from a so-called veteran in his 8th NHL season, and he really felt the anger of the fans. The Blue and Orange army would do their famous “Heyyyyyy Josh Bailey (oohh aahh) I want to knowwwwwww if you’ll score a goal” chant about every time he stepped foot on the ice. While it can be funny to make fun of one of your own, let’s stick to making fun of the other team.
With these chants, came more and more fans picking up on the “Josh Bailey sucks” train, which continues to get worse to this day. Isles Twitter, which as you may know can get quite rowdy at times, absolutely destroys Josh Bailey on a daily basis. He can have a career year and play excellent hockey and still be considered garbage, which is exactly what happened last year.
Josh Bailey had the best year of his career during the 2016-17 season, as he put up 13 goals, 43 assists and 56 points in all 82 games of the Islanders season. Now I know that you’re all thinking that obviously he put up those numbers when he spent most of last season on the wing of superstar captain John Tavares, but if that was true then wouldn’t he have more goals than assists? Wouldn’t Tavares be setting him up constantly for easy goals? Well, the statistics don’t lie. Josh Bailey had over triple the amount of assists as he did goals, meaning that he was the one setting up his line-mates, rather than being the one set up. So far this year, Bailey has 3 goals and 3 assists in eight games. John Tavares has the same exact numbers, and the two aren’t playing together anymore. Oh and by the way, did anyone see that filthy goal he scored against the Sharks? And the great move he made on Kevin Shattenkirk in the closing seconds of regulation at MSG, only to get robbed by Henrik Lundqvist? It’s time for Islanders fans to face the reality. Josh Bailey is a good hockey player and is a very important member of the New York Islanders. Whether or not you choose to like him is totally up to you, but it’s time for Islanders fans to start to appreciate him.