Thursday, December 2, 2010
Battle of New York: Apparently, It's a Rivalry!
I don’t know about all of you, but it took me about 24 hours to cool down after Monday’s loss to the Penguins. I was pretty pissed off. Not only did the Rangers play like a lifeless group of talentless bums, but the game also provided more examples of how Sidney Crosby is exempt from all forms of league scrutiny and punishment. He clearly slew footed Ryan Callahan, and yet Cally gets called for interference. It was as nonsensical and full of crap as an episode of Lost.
Luckily, the Rangers’ schedule allowed me another full day before the team played its next game. I had some free time to cool off and look forward to their home and home match up against the Islanders. So I did some poking around on the Google, and to my surprise, I found out that the Islanders and Rangers are actually considered an intense rivalry.
I was born in 1986. I have never known the Islanders to be anything other than a completely dismissible team not capable of challenging for anything other than the #8 playoff seed. I considered them an afterthought to the Devils, a team not worth worrying about. As a young fan of the modern NHL, my jaw dropped when I learned that the Isles had once known their own share of success. It was the kind of disbelief you feel when you see really old pictures of your much younger grandma and realize there was a time when she wasn’t all old and wrinkly.
So I decided to do some digging and find out as much as I could about these Islanders. Who are they? Where do they come from? Why are they here if not just to provide us Rangers fans with a slight sense of superiority? What I found may come as a surprise to you younger fans…
FACT - Long Island was awarded an NHL franchise in 1972, but the league’s motives were far from familial. The Islanders were created simply for legal reasons, to keep the WHL’s fledgling league out of the new Nassau Coliseum. County officials didn’t consider the WHL a major league caliber product, and to keep the New York Raiders (weird, right?) out of Nassau, they lobbied the league and were rewarded with an NHL team.
Biggest Surprise Here - That people actually fought over the rights to play in that dump of a stadium. It doesn’t look like Nassau county officials are still concerned with what constitutes a major league caliber product, does it?
FACT - During its conception, the team was widely expected to name itself the Long Island Ducks, a name that paid tribute to the area’s EHL minor league team. Upon realizing that “Long Island” conjures up images of spoiled rich girls and cocky meatheads, they decided to change it to the more geographically expansive “New York Islanders”.
Biggest Surprise Here – That an NHL team was almost named the Ducks 20 years before the Disney movie made the mascot immortal. Had they kept this name, Gordon Bombay wouldn’t have had to convince District 5 to adopt the moniker with an impassioned speech midway through their season, they would never have won that championship and Gordon would never have banged Charlie’s mom. Thank God for the Islanders!
FACT – Being the NHL’s second New York team came at a price. The Islanders were forced to pay our beloved Rangers a $4 million “territorial fee” for the right to play in the league.
Biggest Surprise Here – What’s not to love about someone paying you a $4 million fee so they can move into your back yard? The fact that these days, that kind of money wouldn’t even cover the Derek Boogaard contract.
FACT – Original owner Ray Boe ran into financial troubles during the late 1970’s and was forced to sell his team to minority partner, John Pickett. To salvage the team’s finances, Pickett signed a lucrative cable contract with Sportschannel, an upstart network run by Charles Dolan. Dolan was convinced that the promising Islanders would be a great centerpiece for his new network, and offered the Islanders very generous terms that helped keep the team in Long Island.
Biggest Surprise Here – A Dolan was actually willing to part ways with money to ensure they watched a winner. This strategy is atypical of the Dolan family who, since then, has been infinitely more interested in collecting money and fielding mediocrity than actually winning anything.
FACT – It took only 11 years for the Islanders to win all four of their Stanley Cups. It took the Rangers to 67 years to win the same amount. During their “Dynasty Years”, the Islanders beat the Rangers in four straight playoff appearances and effectively owned the Battle of New York.
Biggest Surprise Here – At one point, it actually was competitive. I thought it was a myth, but apparently we had some hard fought battles back in the day. And here I was thinking they were just a geographical footnote!
FACT – With the first pick in the 1973 Draft, the Islanders selected stand-out defenseman Denis Potvin. Potvin was heralded as “The Next Bobby Orr” and was the cornerstone of Stanley Cup Champion Islanders during the early 1980’s. He broke Ulf Nilsson’s ankle in ’79, forever cementing his place in the Rangers Hall of Infamy. Despite his notoriety, Potvin was asked to come out of retirement in 1994 by none other than New York Rangers head coach and legend Mike Keenan. He said no.
Biggest Surprise Here – Who the fuck is Ulf Nilsson!?
Well, that does it for this edition of ’94 Parade. Hopefully tonight and tomorrow’s games help reaffirm that all is still right with the world. LET’S GO RANGERS! I’ll end this post with another edition of Ranger Haikus.
This one is entitled, “Just Got Tickets for My First Rangers Game of the Season. BOOYA!”
This Sunday the fifth
Rangers versus Senators
Guess who’s got tickets?