The Wednesday WTF?

There is no sports team in the world with which I die harder than the New York Islanders. What can I say? They were there for me when I needed them. In a time of early tumult in my life I readily immersed myself in the sport of hockey and the Islanders did not disappoint. From 1980-1983 the Isles won four consecutive Stanley Cups (the oldest and most storied trophy in North American sports just in case you non-believers didn't know), something that no American team had ever done in that most Canucky of games. In fact, they even swept the actual Canucks of Vancouver in the 1982 finals to win the third of their championships.

Rarely do teams stay great forever, but there really should be a limit to the absurdity and humiliation fans are subject to when a team bottoms out. As a good Islanders fan, I think it's safe to say that things really started going bad when the hated rivals, the Rangers, won their first Cup in 54 years in 1994. I was literally distraught to see the fuckin' asshole Rangers toting that Cup around and the gloating of their douche bag fans.

Then the drought came to the Island. Starting with the 1994-95 season, the Islanders began a seven year stretch of not making the playoffs. Let me reiterate this point. The New York Islanders, a team in a league where over half of the teams make the playoffs, could not manage to do it once in seven years. Steaming piles of suck do not appear naturally. They are carefully crafted by ineptitude artisans. Oh, they were dark days.

In the midst of this period of athletic impotence, there was John Spano. Oh, you don't know him? Seriously? He was the white knight on the white horse, the man who was going to buy the team and return it to its former glory. And bought them he did. Trouble was that he didn't actually have the money to pay for the team, but he went through with the purchase anyway. Faux pas! Fleet Bank was not as appreciative as you might think they would be about being conned into lending $80 million to a man with only $2 million in assets. It seems that such predatory lending practices were still only in vogue for banks dealing with minorities looking to live the American Dream. Fleet saw no value on foreclosing on a crappy hockey franchise. In 2000, Spano was sentenced to six years for bank and wire fraud.

Another brilliant move in the 1990s was incorporating the Gorton's Fisherman into their logo. The marketing machine was really purring in those days.

Then there was the farce of the Isles' home. Once the toughest, rockin'est arena in the NHL to play in, the Nassau Coliseum had become decrepit. The Islanders even sued the Coliseum's management company and were restrained by a New York State Supreme Court Judge from playing at the Coliseum because an engineering report on the scoreboard's hoist system declared it unsafe. You see, there was some danger that it could come crashing down which conflicted with players' desire to not be crushed to death during a line change. Whiny, spoiled professional athletes. In any event, the sparse crowds and falling scoreboard hazards (even after the restraining order was lifted) caused a new moniker to stick once and for all. The Islanders home was known as the Nassau Mausoleum.

Hope did flicker though. Things were looking up when the team was bought by Computer Associates moguls Sanjay Kumar and Charles Wang. Of course, Kumar pled guilty for securities fraud and obstruction of justice in 2004 and Wang yesterday secured his position as heir apparent to George Steinbrenner as professional sports' meddling kook owner extraordinaire.

What's the opposite of a moment of clarity? A moment of delusion? A moment of opacity? A bout of catastrophic clusterfuckery? In a moment of catastrophic clusterfuckery, owner Charles Wang decided to fire the experienced General Manager Neil Smith (the guy who built the NY Rangers Cup winning team of 1994 incidentally) whom he hired six weeks ago. Smith's replacement? The back-up goalie.I'm sorry. What?

Yes, Garth Snow (pictured below, apparently at a management training seminar) has gone from being a scrub (albeit an able scrub) on one of last decade's worst teams, to being its general manager, in control of player personnel decisions, wheeling, dealing, and bringing the team back to prominence. Wikipedia is already calling yesterday "Black Tuesday." (Actually since first writing this, the "Black Tuesday" reference has been taken down.) Ah shit, what do I want from an owner who once sent scouts to Japan to consider sumo wrestlers to play goalie? Any man who doesn't understand the tenuous, but simple relationship between the ankles of the obese and ice skates, can't really have much expected of him.

New GM Garth Snow Orchestrates His First Deal As GM With "The Ice Girls": Swapping spit for a fourth round draft pick and a position to be named later.


At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Rev Transit said...

That's a great story. As someone who lived through the Cardinals debacles of the 70s, I sympathize with your plight and then some.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger evandebacle said...

Thank you for your kind words. I will begin sitting shiva for the 2006-07 season beginning at sundown.

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Rev Transit said...

I bet that "sitting shiva" is one of those phrases you pronounce slowly in polite company.

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