Considering I root for the Mets, Jets and Islanders (God help me if I was a Knicks fan), it's remarkable how optimistic I am about my favorite teams and their futures. It's also kind of amazing I haven't either become an alcoholic or sniped anyone from a bell tower.
The similarities between Mets fans and Islanders fans in particular are notable in that each group is populated by some of the most bitter, negative people around. Mets fans are still stunned by the Collapse of 2007, which came a year after the Mets lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS and then watched that very beatable team go on to win a World Series.
Islanders fans have suffered through 25 years of championship drought, and in that time they have not only not won the Stanley Cup, but for significant stretches they were an absolute joke. Spano. Fishsticks. Milbury. Say no more.
As a result, Islanders fans have almost no confidence in the organization. Sure, they like Ted Nolan - what's not to like. But they can't stomach Charles Wang's unusual ideas about running a franchise, and they still see Garth Snow as the old backup goalie. So it's not surprising that so many fans are lamenting the loss of Nikita Filatov as if he was a lock to be the next Sergei Fedorov.
He's not, though. He's undeniably talented but small, so who knows how that will pan out. Snow gathered up extra picks and some of his second-day selections -- Kirill Petrov, Corey Trivino, Aaron Ness -- look like steals. We won't know for sure for a few years, but that hasn't stopped the naysayers from treating Snow like, well, Milbury. Which isn't fair.
What fans should be more concerned about in the short term is what Snow is going to do to help the team in 2008-09. He may have done an outstanding job of restocking the system, but other than maybe Josh Bailey (and that's a big maybe), none of the 2008 draft picks will make an impact next season.
And while the Isles aren't likely to land the biggest fish in the free agent pool, fans should expect -- maybe even demand -- that the Isles at least approach the league salary cap and go after some significant talent, particularly up front. There's no first line on this team, and it's tough to win too many 2-1 games.
All I'd like to see is an honest effort to bring in legitimate talent. I won't attempt to make a list. I actually am willing to trust Snow.
Then again, I am an optimist. Somehow.