Make no mistake about it. The Islanders were not going to be a playoff contender this season.
In fact, like they are usually predicted to do, the Isles were once again picked to finish dead last in the league.
After a dismal 2008-2009 season which saw their franchise goaltender miss virtually the entire season, and with an insurmountable number of other man-games lost due to injury, the Isles did indeed finish with the worst record in the league.
The one major consolation prize that could come out of the Isles season was to win the draft lottery and earn the right to draft No. 1 overall. On Apr. 14, the Islanders card was drawn and they were awarded the top pick.
Islander fans rejoiced in hopes of finally landing a player of the caliber of a John Tavares or Victor Hedman. Instead, what they got was Bran Burke and the gift of the Canadian media.
Perhaps Burke is getting exactly what he wanted. After Burke made his comments regarding Tavares, the Toronto media took off running with the story. Since then numerous fabricated articles have been written on the situation.
Some have bought into the ridiculous notion that Burke has enough assets to trade to be able to move up to the top spot in the draft. Others have claimed that Tavares’ desire is to not play for the Islanders.
And others have simply stated that its not fair to John Tavares to be stuck playing for a franchise such as the Islanders.
One unnamed analyst even went as far as discrediting the Islanders four Stanley Cup championships because John Tavares was not born yet.
So let me ask you this: What has Toronto won in the 18 years that John Tavares has been born?
They were right about one thing though. It isn’t fair to John Tavares. It isn’t fair to try to poison the mind of an 18-year-old kid to convince him that he should be playing for a certain franchise. It’s not fair to the New York Islander fans to have to read these articles, of which 90 percent have little to no merit.
Tavares has already publicly stated that he will play for whatever team drafts him. It was a low blow by Burke, who received a bit of his own medicine when he put the call in to Garth Snow. Snow offered his first round pick to Burke during that conversation in hopes of landing Toronto’s seventh-overall selection.
However, Snow has the team on the right track and the once-proud franchise is trying to bring that pride back. Tavares can be a huge part of that. The Islanders have a huge fan base, who have been dying for a contender since the '92-93 playoffs ended.
Toronto witnessed firsthand how Islander fans came out in droves during the 2001-2002 playoffs, making Nassau Coliseum sound as if Elvis had returned from the dead and was doing a concert there. Although the Isles eventually bowed out in seven, Toronto did not win one game on the Coliseum ice during that series.
Sure, the Isles are an easy target to an outsider, but they deserve better.
They deserve some respect.