Sunday, July 29, 2007

The New Uniforms

When the NHL announced last season that the entire league would be adopting Reebok's new EDGE Uniform System, and every team would have the opportunity to design a new sweater, I figured the Islanders could go one of two ways: finish the restoration of the classic uniform that began in the 1998-'99 season (my hope), or go in an entirely new direction that would leave me scratching my head and muttering, "Why can't we get this right?"

I have never considered the restoration of the classic Islanders uniform to be complete. It's not so much that I dislike the navy blue. I just think that it's not quite right. I know that there is an entire generation of fans that doesn't feel any strong attachment to the royal blue uniforms that, to me, represent the true blue of the Islanders. In fact, I believe that a significant segment of the Coliseum faithful prefers the navy. But I don't think I'll ever be swayed.

I've also never been a fan of the current number style, which uses an offset outline to create the appearance of a double trim. The jersey color creates the first outline. On the blue sweater, the white numerals are trimmed in blue, and then in orange. On the white sweater, the blue numerals are trimmed in white, and then in blue. Somehow this double outline makes the numbers look weaker, if that makes any sense. I much prefer the old style of outlining the numbers with a single color. It's a bolder look.

One concern about the RBK system is that it is template-based, with seemingly many options for adding panels of color and extra piping. It was my sincere hope that the Islanders would resist the temptation to do something "new and exciting." I was looking for them to keep it simple, and, if it was not asking too much, bring back the royal blue. As some of you may know, the following picture has been circulating around the Web for a couple of months now:

This is not what I was hoping for

I have seen this photo posted in numerous places over the last couple of months, but I have never seen it credited to anyone. More and more evidence (i.e., Internet chatter) suggests that if it is not the exact sweater that the Isles will be wearing this year, it is close. I'm sure it will grow on me, but I am disappointed. I want the Islanders to be the type of franchise whose look is timeless. While the franchise has not been around as long as teams like the Habs, Bruins, Yankees, or Dodgers, it did make enough of an impact on the NHL records books to make it an historic franchise. I think a classic looks goes a long way to protecting that status. Winning consistently doesn't hurt either.

There has been some great discussion of this issue on the Hockey's Future Islanders Board. This thread and this thread in particular present some good opinions, nuggets of news (granted, we can't verify them), as well as mockups of new uniform possibilities.

And I can't say enough about how good the team looked paying tribute to the '72-'73 season last year. The orange letters were a little tough to read, and these aren't the exact uniforms I grew up with, but I'd sign on for this look in a second.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How It All Started

In February 1980 I was seven years old. On a Friday evening, I sat on my parents' bed with my dad and watched the U.S. desperately hold off the Soviets. We were captivated. I had never seen my dad so excited about a game (until I scored my first AYSO goal a few months later). He wasn't even a particularly big hockey fan, but I think he bounced off the bed several times that day. The scene repeated itself the next day during the clincher against Finland. I was hooked. Among Eruzione, McClanahan, Craig, and Pavelich, the player I latched onto most was the one who shared my name: Ken Morrow. After watching him drape a gold medal around his neck, I followed Morrow to his new team. It just so happened that they were pretty good too.

I will always credit Ken Morrow with making me an Islanders fan. But it was the guy streaking down the right side with the deadly accurate shot and the number 22 on his back that cemented my love for the team. I used to wake up the morning after the Islanders played and run to the kitchen to check the box score in The New York Times. I would read every line looking for the name "Bossy" followed by a number. It seemed like he scored every night and those numbers kept climbing.

I became a little jealous of my best friend when I found out that he shared a birthday with Mike Bossy. I thought it was unfair that he had that in common with the player I admired most. As I grew older, I took 22 as my uniform whenever it was available. Two had always been my lucky number, so what could be better than two 2s and a connection to a gentlemanly and wickedly talented All-Star? Later, I wondered if I should have forged my own identity and chosen my own birthday as my number. But I'm still proud to have all of those jerseys, t-shirts, and warm-ups adorned with double-2s.

I was so disappointed when my favorite player was forced to retire in his prime. You only get the chance to admire sports figures in that kid-like way once. It ended too soon. More than missing watching him play, I felt bad that Mike wasn't able to complete his legacy. I still hate watching lesser players pass him on the career goals list. I regard his playoff goal total as the real benchmark by which to measure greatness. Of course, this is only the fan's point of view. I can take comfort in the fact that athletes themselves generally view their careers from a different perspective. I would guess that Mike doesn't need 900 goals or the title of greatest player ever. Ken Morrow doesn't need a Norris Trophy. The titles that these men currently hold with Islanders suggest that they are quite satisfied with their legacies.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why the Outsider?

As sports fans we often feel as though we are on the outside looking in. This blog intends to embrace that viewpoint. I chose the Outsider as a name and concept because it speaks to the way I often feel as an Islanders fan. Examples:

  • As hockey fans in the U.S. we cannot ignore that our sport occupies a space near the fringe of the sports scene. Our sport is on the outside looking in.
  • As Islanders fans we know that our team often takes a back seat to the eight other major pro teams in the tri-state area. Our team is on the outside looking in.
  • I grew up in Westchester County, which was, for all intents and purposes, enemy territory. Now living in NYC, I remain an outsider when it comes to my NHL rooting interest.
  • Despite being a very active participant in competitive sports while growing up, I never laced on a pair of hockey skates (yes, it is a regret). Yet, my enthusiasm for the game grew and grew from outside the glass.
  • While this blog is being promoted by the New York Islanders, I am obviously not a member of the organization. I remain an outside observer.
Having never lived on Long Island for any length of time, I have rarely had the opportunity to enjoy a sense of community with other Islander fans. But I know I'm not the only one out here. If anything, I hope that this blog will serve to promote interest in the team, and the sport, on a larger scale.

Having said that, this blog will not be about overtly drumming up support for the team. That needs to happen naturally, the way it likely happened for anyone who cares enough to read this or any other Islanders blog. I will focus from time to time on the public perception of the Islanders as an NHL franchise and as a New York team. I will comment on the way in which the franchise presents itself, as well as on the way in which media outlets cover the organization--again, the outsider's perspective.

The everyday activities of the club, especially the games and personnel decisions, will also play a significant role.
But I will make it a point to respond to stories, comments, and opinions about the Islanders, whether from Mike and the Mad Dog, Larry Brooks, or Bob McKenzie. I've always wanted an outlet for my frustrations with some statements made by members of the media (more on that in a later post).

My one goal for this blog is to have people visit simply because it makes for a good read. I hope that one person's thoughts and perspectives will appeal to others who share a common interest. If a community of commenters develops here, I hope it only serves to make the page more engaging. I do reserve the right to remove any comments that are inappropriate. I would like this to be a positive place where people participate enthusiastically and respectfully. We can exchange observations, opinions, and even constructive criticism. I hope you will join me in keeping a light tone in relating to one another.

Leading up to the launch of the Blog Box, I am discovering that there is a deep and talented pool of Islanders bloggers out there. Islanders Outsider aims to be merely one voice among many that enriches the experience of being a fan of the New York Islanders.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Welcome to Islanders Outsider.

I'd like to thank the New York Islanders and the Islanders Media Relations Department for giving me the impetus to start this blog, and for driving far more traffic here than I ever could have on my own. With the NYI Blog Box, the organization has unleashed a very intriguing concept in fan interaction. It will be interesting and fun to see how this all unfolds.