The year is 1983 and the New York Islanders are on the brink of clinching their fourth straight Stanley Cup. If you went around the NHL and asked every player if they would like to play on the Islanders over any other team, yeses would reign supreme. Now things are different.
The Islanders for the second straight year have failed to land the big name superstar. Last year was John Tavares. This year was Artemi Panarin.
Both of these players were offered more money by the Islanders than the team they ended up going to and Panarin went to a team that finished 25 points behind the Islanders.
Why do these big names seem to not want to sign with the Islanders? The team has not had a brighter future in decades, so whats so unappealing about Long Island? Is it the multi-stadium situation? While that could be a factor to some, the Islanders will have a brand new stadium most likely by 2021, so that factor should no longer be a large issue. Is Lou Lamoriello out of touch? Lamoriello offered both these players contacts that would seem perfect if any other general manager made them. So what could it be?
It’s the Islanders themselves.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, perception is very hard to change. The Islanders were seen as one of the NHL’s biggest dumpster fires from the 90s well into the next century. It is a perception Garth Snow tried so hard to change, but was unable to do during his tender. Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky have made great strides in changing with the hiring of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz, but one good season is not going to change a narrative just like that. That is why it is extremely important the Islanders remain consistent and competitive.
This past season is something all Islanders fans will never forget. The team rose from its lowest low and did something nobody saw coming, but if they truly want to become a Stanley cup contender and eventually winner, the Islanders need players like Panarin. In order to get these big-name guys, the perception of failure still present in New York must be destroyed.
And to do this, the Islanders simply cannot regress.
They must make the playoffs. Knowing Barry Trotz and Lamoriello, this is a possibility. The Islanders just need to follow through.