While the Pens grab a 2-0 series lead on the Rangers (please, Tom Renney, no more whining), there were a couple of Islanders-related things I enjoyed, starting with an interview with Mike Bossy at the New York Times' Slap Shot blog.
Bossy has always been one of the most intelligent and well-spoken Islanders, and the interview is a thoughtful one, with the Boss giving his thoughts on the state of the game and how it compares to his era. My favorite quote:
"The standards have changed today from what they were in the past. A lot of times I’ll hear people talk about certain players today, calling them great. And I say, ‘If he is great, what was Gretzky or Bobby Orr or Maurice Richard?’ And they look at me with a strange kind of look."
Then there is the ESPN Ultimate Standings: Fan Satisfaction Rankings. It polled fans of every "big four" professional sports franchise and had them grade their team in seven categories, including fan relations, ownership, affordability, stadium experience, coaching, players and title track, with an eighth category called "bang for the buck" that used research to determine how fan dollars translate to wins.
What's interesting is how the Islanders, a team that failed to make the playoffs and has some of the lowest attendance figures in the NHL, ranked among the other New York teams. The Isles finished 74th out of 122 teams overall, but were third among the seven New York teams, trailing only the Super Bowl champion Giants and the Yankees, who were 48th and 65th, respectively. The Rangers were 79th, the Mets 93rd, the Jets 105th and, of course, the Knicks were dead last at 122nd. (If you want to throw in the Jersey teams, the Devils were 40th and the Nets 100th).
Two numbers stand out for the Islanders, who ranked between 58 and 76 in six of the eight categories, right around their overall number. Those numbers are 116 and 5.
The former is the team's rank for stadium experience, no shock there. Compare that to the Devils, whose experience at the new Rock had them 16th. The number 5 is where the Islanders finished in the coaching category, which was defined as "strong on-field leadership." That's right, FIFTH.
Who were the top four? The Patriots (Bill Belichick), Tigers (Jim Leyland), San Antonio Spurs (Gregg Popovich) and Los Angeles Angels (Mike Scioscia). That's some pretty nice company to be in for Isles coach Ted Nolan, who clearly has the fans' respect. Finishing just behind Nolan were Bobby Cox of the Braves and Phil Jackson of the Lakers.
Just something to think about for Charles Wang and Garth Snow when determining whether or not they want Nolan to be a lame-duck coach in 2008-09.
One last thing about these rankings - when you click on the team name you get a summary, where we learn that the Islanders jumped from 87th in 2007 to 74th this year. I hadn't clicked on the summary until after I started this very post, but imagine my delight to see that yours truly was quoted in the summary, at the end:
"Thanks to bureaucratic snags, Wang's Lighthouse Project - a state-of-the-art facility, including a training facility, to be built on the grounds of the outdated Nassau Mausoleum, uh, Coliseum - remains frozen. Unfortunately, so do the fans. Bemoans one blogger: "Walking across the vast, wind-swept parking lot in the dead of winter is like traversing the Siberian steppes."
That last line is a quote from Still Drivin's post of November 14, 2007. What can I say? The guy has impeccable source material.