At the beginning of the season, a long time family friend of mine, who is sadly a big Islanders fan, challenged me to a season long bet. Now, being intrigued by the bet, I took him up on it because I was confident that my team would finish better. We decided on a bet and the terms. Whichever team, either the New York Rangers or New York Islanders, finished better the loser of the bet had to wear the opposing team’s garb at a local bar. At the beginning of the season, I was very mouthy and was afraid that I had jinxed myself, lo and behold, I was the WINNER of the bet by a landslide and I couldn’t have been happier.
So, I give you this picture of my friend, in a Ryan Callahan jersey. I chose “Cally” to ensure he didn’t jinx any current roster players performance in the playoffs. I also gave him a sign which reads: “I am an Islanders fan settling a bet… Potvin sucks!”
Although he is sadly an Islanders fan, he is one of my biggest supporters when it comes to my writing, so I wanted to ask him a few questions about his team even if we don’t see eye to eye. Here is a little “Q&A” with my friend, Vin.
How long have you been an Islanders fan?
I became an Islander fan during their run of consecutive Stanley Cups. I was about 11 years old and although I lived in a Rangers household, being only 15 minutes from the Coliseum and playing street hockey with the neighborhood kids, the allure and mystique of those teams had a major impact on me. In those days, playing in the street on roller skates, you wanted to emulate Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, or Billy Smith.
What was your first memory of being an Islanders fan?
My earliest Islanders memory was going with my Dad and his friends to Madison Square Garden to watch an Isles vs Rangers tilt. I proudly wore my Islanders sweater under my winter jacket, but when the Rangers took a 9 – 3 lead, my Dad’s friend leaned over to me and said, “You might want to zip up that jacket.”
What was your favorite experience at the Coliseum?
Probably attending Game 4 of the ’12 -’13 playoff series vs Pittsburgh. The atmosphere in the “Old Barn” was nothing short of phenomenal. The fan base had been so starved for any bit of success that the excitement and jubilation of just being there was palatable. It was a great back and forth affair that was capped off with a 3rd period comeback victory! I’ve been to multiple World Series games in person and this environment, in many ways, eclipsed those experiences.
How do you think the move to Brooklyn will affect the team and organization?
The whole move to Brooklyn is bittersweet. It’s a rare privilege to have a professional sports team in the middle of your county when you don’t live in a big city, so to lose them feels like a huge loss. Leaving a thrilling shoot out win early this year, I took a moment to survey the crowd as they poured out of the building, beaming in their blue and orange sweaters, hats and t-shirts and a sadness came over me. These fans have been waiting so long for a quality on ice product to root for, they finally have it, but it’s going away in a few months. Bottom line, Brooklyn is better than having the franchise move out-of-state. The impact on the team and organization, I think they will adopt a bunch of new fans from the Boroughs who can travel by mass transit to the game, but those fans won’t have the deep blood lines of the current fans, so if the team should falter, they’ll disappear quickly. So they may grow the size of the fan base, but the loyalty will diminish.
Will you be traveling to Brooklyn for your team?
The best answer I can give is, “It depends.” I will definitely try to go to at least one or two games each season, but depending upon the ticket prices and how convenient they make the LIRR schedule to and from the Barclay’s Center on game nights will dictate how inclined I am to make the trip. Bottom line is that it won’t be as convenient as my short car ride to the Coliseum today, but I believe the team has a bright future so I would like to witness some of their successes in person when possible.