The sports fan’s passion is quite a neural phenomenon.
We tend to have a more sensible approach to other facets of everyday life. A couple of bad days at work doesn’t mean it’s time to start interviewing elsewhere. You probably don’t assume that you’ll have a stomach ache for the next six months if you’re feeling queasy for half a week.
However, when it comes to the teams we root for, logic often gets thrown onto the backburner. You go into the season with so much optimism (justified or not) that it’s practically spilling out of your ears. The new circuit begins and then, just like that, everything comes to a screeching halt. Two games in the books and your team’s lost both of them. “Oh, no,” you say — either internally or, depending on your surroundings, personality, and/or level of intoxication, externally.
That’s it. Time to hit the panic button. It’s all gone horribly wrong. This team doesn’t look remotely like the one that contended for a championship last season. Everyone’s out of position. That guy they signed to fill a void isn’t doing so. He might even be creating a bigger one. What’s that kid doing in the minors when he could help this team score? The coach has lost the room. And, of course, you just know that they should’ve traded for that other player when they had the chance this summer. It’s an unmitigated disaster.
Ep 12: Biting, Montreal, COVID, and Penguins Sale Updateby Full Press Coverage on December 1, 2021 at 5:52 pm
Mike, Jim, and Chris […]
What if they miss the playoffs or lose the division by four points? Never mind the fact that you could say that about any two losses that occur during the regular season. No, it would obviously be because of those two losses.
If this all sounds familiar to you, there’s a good reason for it. If you’re an Islanders fan, it’s even more of a trigger. Because not only is the Islander fan programmed with the same emotional coding as anyone who loves their team, the Islander fan has been trained to be immediately pessimistic or, at the very least, concerned.
For the longest time, the Isles were under shaky ownership and management. There was no reason to trust those in charge because they routinely failed (and did so miserably, I might add) to earn the benefit of the doubt.
The thing is, that’s no longer true. Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello have completely changed the culture and perception of the organization, as has the ownership group that brought those two into the fold. These aren’t Mike Milbury or Garth Snow’s Islanders, and it’s time to start ignoring that negative gut reflex, even though it’s seen a lot of ice time over the past three decades.
Yes, the Isles came out pretty flat over the first two games of the season. There were a few positives but, mainly, the team looked disjointed. What does that mean in the long run? Absolutely nothing.
Let me say that again: It means absolutely nothing.
The only thing it really does is influence the adjustments and tweaks that a well-run organization would make anyway, both early on and throughout the entire season. And we already saw this by the time the Islanders hit the ice in Chicago on Tuesday evening. Matt Martin was back, there were changes made to the defense pairings, forwards were a bit more organized, and Ilya Sorokin looked like Ilya Sorokin.
It’s almost like their 4-1 win over the Blackhawks was probably a more accurate depiction of what this team is capable of than the losses to Carolina and Florida were. Almost.
Again, it is early. There are no guarantees. Still, given that the Isles are coming off back-to-back Conference Final appearances, I’d say they are far more likely to be a good team than a bad one in 2021-22. If their results over the past three years aren’t enough to overshadow the first sign of trouble when we’re not even one-tenth into the season, you have to ask yourself: What would be enough?
The Islanders will be fine. They are run in a machine-like fashion; well-oiled and consistently maintained for optimal performance. Trotz & Co. know damn well what they’re doing, and Lamoriello might be an enigmatic character, but virtually every move he’s made since he’s gotten here has worked out.
Remain calm. All is well.
Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter @DanJFriedman