Could This Be The Year?

Norm!! That’s what patrons at Cheers were still yelling as the long-time sitcom was about to end it’s run. Remember the movie “Posse”? Well few people do. The Mario Van Peebles Western bombed at the box office. Music fans were trying to decipher the lyrics to Snow’s Informer. Yours truly was getting ready for his high school prom. What does any of this have to do with hockey? Nothing of course, but all of the above occurred in May 1993, the last time the New York Islanders won a playoff series.

This is the eighth time since 1993 that the Islanders have made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their eighth different first-round opponent, the Florida Panthers, were five months away from making their NHL debut. Could this be the year?

David Volek’s one-timer past Tom Barrasso was his second of the game; his first gave the underdog Islanders a third-period lead in Game 7. The two-time, defending Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to tie the game and force overtime.

“When overtime started, I told Ray Ferraro, If there’s any justice, I’m going to score the winner.”

Injuries forced Volek to retire following the 1993-94 season. 12 players have worn number 25 for the Isles since Volek.  Remember Chris Taylor or Juraj Kolnik? Didn’t think so.

The upset was the last playoff series win for Hall of Fame head coach Al Arbour. “Radar” retired for the second time following the 1993-94 season. Since then, 11 different men led the team from the bench,  two of which (Lorne Henning and Mike Milbury) had two separate stints. Speaking of Milbury, during his reign of terror as general manager, “Mad Mike” made 82 trades. The Isles will face one of the players he traded in goaltender Roberto Luongo. The players Milbury received (Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha) have long since retired. Luongo was one of 28 players the Isles drafted in the first round since 1993. Luongo could very well continue to haunt the Islanders this series.

Patrick Flatley was captain of the 1993 team and wore the “C” until he left in 1996. Bryan McCabe became the next captain in the 1997-98 season. The first of nine captains since 1993. McCabe was drafted in the second round in, you guessed it, 1993. Could this be the year?

Revolving Door

The Isles have had five different ownership groups since 1993. John Pickett sold a minority stake to a group of Long Island businessmen. Ralph Palleschi, Bob Rosenthal, Stephen Walsh and Paul Greenwood were referred to as the “Group Of Four”. Their biggest contribution…the fisherman logo and Milbury. The “Group Of Four” “sold” their stake in the team to Texas businessman John Spano. After turning out to be a fraud, Spano was sentenced to prison three times. Spano wasn’t the only past owner(s) to be in the clink.  Walsh and Greenwood were sentenced to prison in 2014 after stealing $553 million from charities and pension plans to buy horses, mohair teddy bears and a $3 million home. Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar, in 2000, bought the team from Howard Milstein and Steven Gluckstern, who bought the team from the “Group Of Four” in 1997. Kumar was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and securities fraud charges. To recap, the team has more ex-owners in prison than playoff series wins since 1993. Could this be the year?

Glenn Healy had the postseason of his life in 1993. Healy was left unprotected in the 1993 Expansion draft and was claimed by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He was traded to the Rangers the following day. Healy backed up Mike Richter and raised the Stanley Cup in 1994. The Islanders were left with Ron Hextall, the first of 35 different goaltenders to start since Healy left. Luongo, the 11th since 1993.

The Islanders, just like during the 1993 series against the Penguins and the seven series that followed, head to Florida an underdog. Could this be the year?  No one at the ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports” is picking the Isles. Could this be the year?

There is one constant between the 1993 playoffs and this year’s one, Jaromir Jagr. The ageless wonder was 20 years old as a member of the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins. The 1993 Patrick Division Finals was the only series that Jagr faced the Islanders. Darius Kasparaitis and Travis Green were the last two members of the 1993 Islanders team to retire, both in 2007.

Could this be the year?

For the record here are the lyrics for Snow’s Informer:

You no say Daddy Me Snow me-a gon’ blame
I lick he bum bum down
‘tective man they say, say Daddy Me Snow me stab someone down the lane
I lick he bum bum down