Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flirting with Disaster

There's nothing quite like watching a disastrous situation unfold before your eyes. Sure, you can see clips on TV or read all about it in the paper, but there's no substitute for being there when the wheels come off.

And, so, I am ultimately glad I got to see this year's NHL Draft live on the scoreboard at the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, I could've gotten a sense of the collective "Wha' happened?" on the Islandermania message boards, but it wouldn't have been nearly as memorable as being there when the trade with Toronto was announced to a hearty chorus of boos...which was topped mere moments later when Garth Snow traded down again, setting off a cacophony of grumbling, shouting, and wailing (and later the "Garth Snow...SUCKS!" chant). When Gary Bettman said that he had another trade instead of announcing the Isles' No. 7 pick, there was that palpable feeling of "No way...not possible." And then it was possible, signaling the mass exodus and the all-too-familiar walk of shame from the stands back to the parking lot.

To echo the thoughts of the Mediocre One and many other Isles fans, I have nothing personal against Joshua Bailey. In fact, I feel bad for him and worried that he would get a muffled reception when he showed up on the screen for his live interview (he didn't...the true-blue Isles fans rallied together to give him a proper, if slightly subdued welcome). I wish him the best and hope to see him on the Island for years to come. He seems like a bright kid, and there is certainly a significant upside to him. But Snow's outright refusal to nab one of the seven consensus immediate-impact players was crushing for those of us who had decided to spend their Friday night staring at the Coliseum scoreboard and sifting through Brent Sopel and Ryan Smyth shirts on the clearance tables. This was supposed to be the blastoff on the rocket ship back to the top of the division. It was supposed to be a moment for Isles fans to bask in the glow of that thing so often in short supply in the hearts and minds of those who come to the Coliseum: hope. Instead, it just seemed like business as usual.

Though I was initially gut-punched by the trade down (but I stayed until the bitter end, until they turned the scoreboard off and told us to leave), I feel a little better after reading about some of the guys taken in Rounds 2 and 3. Believe me--I would like nothing more than to see Bailey and the guys taken with the extra picks form the core of a new dynasty (or at least a team that can finish higher than eighth) and for Garth Snow and his scouts to be declared geniuses. And, if so, I was there when it all got started. Otherwise, I was there when it all fell apart. We'll see.

Here are some photos from Friday night:

John Buccigross interviews Josh Bailey live via satellte:

Future stars (pleasepleaseplease) Robin Figren and Jack Hillen, both of whom seemed like swell guys:

For the good times:

Another example of poor Islanders management: these Sock-'Em Yashins were in a playhouse for kids; let adults have at these guys for $5 a session and watch the money pour in. (make up some Snow ones while you're at it):

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