Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gheorghemas Day 5....With a Side of Fishsticks

On the fourth day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

A fiiiiifth Golden Ring..... (please?)

Four Years of Marcus;
Three Scummers Picking;

Two albums to look forward to; and

A fat guy in a jersey

As many of you know, another member of the G:TB family and I are fans of one of the worst run franchises in sports.  A franchise that has the perfect pentaverate of terrible management, outdated facilities, poorly constructed rosters & bad contracts, bad sartorial choices, and generally piss poor results.   Oh, you thought I was talking about Whitney and my Met fandom? Nope.....

And despite growing up on Long Island, I thankfully dodge the bullet of cheering for TR & The Teej's beloved J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets.  

Nope, ladies and gentleman of Gheorgedom, I'm talking about my masochistic need to follow the New York Islanders.  TR is also a fan, even though he grew up in New Jersey.  I feel bad for him.  At least I was raised on Long Island and have an excuse to keep rooting for what has been an almost 30 year hot mess of a franchise.   That said, don't feel too bad for him. He has the Yankees. 

I know what you are saying...."Hey Marls, suck it up. I follow the (fill in shitty team here). I know all about rooting for lousy teams.  The Islanders won 4 straight Stanley Cups during your lifetime."  In response, I offer the following lowlights.

Bad Management:   

Sure, lots of people are fans of teams with lousy management.  Not all of us can fall out of the womb as Cardinals, Yankees, Steelers, Red Wings, or Lakers fans, oozing enough management skill,  tradition of winning and "class" to make the rest of the sporting word want to collectively vomit.   There are plenty of fans of teams with terrible management like the aforementioned Madoff Mets, Z-Man's beloved Bills, and Whit's Washington Murderous Drunken Savages (a term of respect I'm told).  However, the Islanders ownership has a special place the Hall Of Bad Owners.  

What other franchise has had had four owners (or almost owners) sent to prison?   Yes, that's right, four folks that have graced the management suite of the NY Islanders have gone to federal PMITA prison.   Here is the ownership rap sheet:

Paul Greenwood & Stephen Walsh:  Greenwood and Walsh cheated investors out of half a billion dollars and were sentenced to 10 and 20 years, respectively.  They were two members of the "Gang of Four" that owned the team from 1992-1996 and really began running the team into the ground.  In addition, Greenwood and Walsh were part of the group that signed off on the infamous "fishstick" logo. (see below)  
John Spano:  Spano was going to be the savior of the franchise after the Gang of Four.   Unfortunately, he did not have the necessary cash and committed mail, wire & bank fraud in an attempt to buy the team.  Hey, if you are gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.  In the end, he was sentenced to 6 years in the federal pen and was the subject of Kevin Connolly's recent 30 For 30 on the scandal.

Sanjay Kumar:  In 2000, current owner Charles Wang purchased the team with Computer Associates co-executive Sanjay Kumar.  Within 4 years Wang had to buy out Kumar (a pattern that Wang would follow with his terrible player contracts) due to Kumar's involvement in alleged securities fraud.  In 2006, Kumar was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $8 million for his role in accounting fraud at Computer associates. 

Outdated Facilities:  

Built in 1972, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Colliseum is the oldest building in hockey except for Madison Square Garden, which has had complete renovations twice since being built in the late 60's.   By all reports, the locker rooms and player facilities are the worst in the NHL.  The food options are terrible.  There is no way to get there other than driving, which in New York makes things tough for all but the most local of fans.  There is no concourse inside the arena, so there is no way to see the action while walking to your seats.  It also makes exiting the building a nightmare.   The first time I took Mrs. Marls to the game I told her not to drink too much because there were only two sets of women's bathrooms.  She did not believe me and spent the better part of the second period waiting on line.

That said, for reasons noted below, I love the f'ing place.  
Bad Contracts:  

Here are two example for your consideration:

Alexi Yashin: The Islanders gave up young defense man Zedno Chara AND a first round draft pick for Yashin.  Chara went on to become one of the best defensemen in NHL history, the first round pick became 4 time all-star Jason Spezza.  Yashin was given a 10 year deal by the Islanders worth $87 million.  He played only 5 seasons on Long Island before being bought out for $17 million and played the rest of his career in Russia.  Is this a bad trade or a bad contract?  It's both.

Rick DiPetro:  Who gives a player a 15 YEAR CONTRACT?!?!?!?   The Islanders, that's who.   In 2006, the Isles gave "franchise" goalie 15 Years, $67 Million to make sure he was locked up through his 40th birthday.  Great idea, right?  Here are his stats after he signed that contract:
Season    Age  Tm  Lg   GP  GS   W   L T/O  GA  SV%  GAA
2006-07    25 NYI NHL   62      32  19   9 156 .919 2.58
2007-08    26 NYI NHL   63  63  26  28   7 174 .902 2.82
2008-09    27 NYI NHL    5   5   1   3   0  15 .892 3.52
2009-10    28 NYI NHL    8   6   2   5   0  20 .900 2.60
2010-11    29 NYI NHL   26  25   8  14   4  88 .886 3.44
2011-12    30 NYI NHL    8   6   3   2   3  22 .876 3.73
2012-13    31 NYI NHL    3   3   0   3   0  12 .855 4.09
Career            NHL  318 108 130 136  36 871 .902 2.87
Admitting defeat, the Islanders finally bought out the contract, paying Ricky $1.5M a year through 2029.  Nice job, guys.

Those two contracts make #2 and #5 of the most expensive buyouts of all time according to this list.  Nice job by a franchise constantly telling fans that they were too cash strapped to sign the team's young stars who they often traded away for draft picks, mediocre grab bags of players, or guys who flat out refused to play for the Isles.  

Bad Sartorial Choices:  

Lots of franchises have had missteps when adding a third jersey or revamping their logo.  That said, the Islanders took this to new heights.  This is a franchise that thought this.....

"It's not a joke, they really expect us to wear these"
and this.....

"We have great mustaches, but these sweaters suck."

were good sweater designs.  Furthermore, they thought that these two guys would make fine mascot choices:

There are no words....

Piss Poor On Ice Results:  

Like most things in sports, success on the playing field can make up for a lot.  One magic season by RGIII seemingly kept fans from marching with pitchforks and torches to Redskin Park to lynch Daniel Snyder, even though effigy burnings in Ashburn, VA may be in short order considering this season's results.  Mets & Jets fans have been appeased by a few good seasons and playoff wins over the past decade.  The Islanders have had no such success.

In the twenty years since this humble blogger went to college, this team has finished in the bottom 5 in the league TWELVE times, finishing dead last twice.  They have made the playoffs 5 times in that span (in a league where critics complain that everybody makes the playoffs) never once winning a playoff series.  Take a gander at these numbers.  Oooof. 
Season    GP  W  L  T OL PTS%                           Playoffs
2013-14   82 34 37    11 .482                                  
2012-13   48 24 17     7 .573 Lost NHL Conference Quarter-Finals
2011-12   82 34 37    11 .482                                  
2010-11   82 30 39    13 .445                                  
2009-10   82 34 37    11 .482                                  
2008-09   82 26 47     9 .372                                  
2007-08   82 35 38     9 .482                                  
2006-07   82 40 30    12 .561 Lost NHL Conference Quarter-Finals
2005-06   82 36 40     6 .476                                  
2003-04   82 38 29 11  4 .555 Lost NHL Conference Quarter-Finals
2002-03   82 35 34 11  2 .506 Lost NHL Conference Quarter-Finals
2001-02   82 42 28  8  4 .585 Lost NHL Conference Quarter-Finals
2000-01   82 21 51  7  3 .317                                  
1999-00   82 24 48  9  1 .354                                  
1998-99   82 24 48 10    .354                                  
1997-98   82 30 41 11    .433                                  
1996-97   82 29 41 12    .427                                  
1995-96   82 22 50 10    .329                                  
1994-95   48 15 28  5    .365                                  

Needless to say, Islander players and their fans have been suffering through decades of mediocrity at best, inept suckitude at worst.  The once proud franchise has been a laughing stock of the league.  

But that brings me back to my Gheorghemas wish...a FIFTH golden ring.

After 30 years, the Islanders finally feel like they are moving in the right direction.  This season, they are off to their best start in franchise history.  The Isles have a young squad led by star John Tavares who actually wants to play for this team.  In addition, next season the Isles are moving to the house that Jay-Z built in Brooklyn, where despite not having a perfect layout for hockey, the lease is favorable and they will get a whole new group of bearded, skinny jean wearing hipsters who will love to sport the "fishstick" sweater ironically.  

But for now, the Isles are playing out one last season in the old hockey barn on Long Island.  They are playing well and rocking the Nassau Coliseum, which notwithstanding the issues noted above, is an awesome place to see a game when the team is playing well.  The sight lines are fantastic and it's super loud as evidenced in this video:

So, as big Gheorghe is loading his sleigh full of Gheorghemas presents for all the good little boys and girls around the world I ask that he remember the boys in blue and orange playing hockey for one last season on Long Island and the fans that have supported them for so long.  A fifth golden ring to go along with this guy's four would be wonderful.



zman said...

Rooting for shitshows builds character and will hopefully be even sweeter if they ever blunder into a championship.

Mark said...

I can attest to that. The Bucs winning the Super Bowl is one of my fondest memories. Of course, they're a shitshow once again.

Whitney said...

My two favorite teams and my years rooting for them since the early 1980's are Hollywood movies run in reverse. This sucks.

zman said...

Pipe connecting my fridge to the water main is leaking between my floor and the basement. Hot water heater died again too. My plumber loves me. At least I figured out how to turn off the water to the fridge.

Mark said...

About to go to the only annual Xmas party I even mildly enjoy. The neighborhood Xmas party hosted by the parents of my stepdaughter's best friend. They are cool people and dont mind tossing a few back. Plus they live 4 houses down from us so I can walk.

TR said...

Amari Cooper should (but won't) win the Heisman. His shoes are also spectacularly shined.

TR said...

Amari runs a 4.2 40, squats 500 and benches 400. I do none of those things.

zman said...

Mike Rozier is a pimp. Gino Toretta looks like he's 50.

TR said...

Mariota's ugly tie exactly matches his Dad's ugly Polynesian shirt. Is that a tribal affiliation?

zman said...

So much dap.

Mark said...

Amari Cooper is so much better dressed than Gordon & Mariota its comical.

Danimal said...

As I said on the tweets, the Heisman presentation needs to go to 2 hours and with Berman back in the mix. I just can't get enough of it. It's really just wicked good television.
Sources tell me that Tebow and Rozier just hopped in a hummer limo equipped with hot tub. They gonna get hiiiiigh!

mr kq said...

Sprung for a sixer of Sculpin. Never disappoints.

Danimal said...

Premarin vaginal cream. Makes intercourse a little more enjoyable. Can you say, "stocking stuffer"?!

TR said...

My 7 y/o knocked a top middle baby tooth loose and has his eye on the prize. He has created a bloodbath in the bathroom sink, trying to pry that fucker out. Disgusting, but I admire his moxie. Unfortunately for him, Dad has no cash, so tooth fairy will be slinging quarters if he pries it out tonight.

Danimal said...

Give him a pineapple to bite into.

zman said...

Give him a tube of Premarin vaginal cream.

Mark said...

We left fairly early from the Xmas party tonight. Kid was ready for bed and I was going to stay home and drink once she was in bed. The wife could go back down the street and drink with her friends.

And then the kid threw up EVERYWHERE. And again. And again.

Things are ok now. I think.

rob said...

gheorghies, hello. there were several middle-aged white women twerking in my living room this evening. it was almost as sexy as it sounds. on the plus side, progressive dinners are excellent drinking opportunities.

Dave said...

aloha gheorghies.

mayhugh said...

Mark - I had a lot in common with your kid last night. Mixed bourbon drinks with fireball shots and jello shots. Had not thrown up in at least 9 years. Streak is dead.

Marls said...

Aloha Spicoli.

Marls said...

Skins/Giants today with last place in the NFC east on the line.

zman said...

I went out with FOGTB Juan Carlos a few weeks ago to a bar that I assume has dirty taps. In the middle of sleeping I had to sprint to the bathroom and shit. The smell of it was so bad that I then had to pivot off the bowl and puke. JC had something similar. His wife found him asleep on the toilet.

zman said...

That's my puking story, for context.