Throughout the Islanders history whenever there was a new face to the franchise, magic or memories always occurred when it was their first year in the playoffs with the team. Unfortunately, the Islanders have not had many faces to remember, especially in recent years. But when a face of the franchise does appear and he gives the Islanders a sense of relevancy, something special usually occurs in their first year of the playoffs. Let’s go back in time shall we?
There’s no doubt that Dennis Potvin, drafted by the Islanders was the face of the franchise starting in 1974, but it was his first playoff experience in 75 that has a lot of memories for many fans. That was the year that not only was it a first for him, but for the franchise as well. Who was their first round opponent? The cross town rival Rangers. Many expected the Rangers to sweep, but that’s where history was made. The Islanders ended up winning the series and then went on to defeat the Penguins in the second round after trailing in the series 3-0. After drafting a few more future Hall of Famers, the Islanders would go on to what are now called the Dynasty Years winning 4 straight Cups and be in the playoffs for the next 15 years.
A new face appeared in the early 1990’s by the name of Pierre Turgeon, who was acquired in a trade for Islanders fan favorite Pat LaFontaine. In 1993, his first year in the playoffs with the Islanders, they made an unbelievable run, making memories such as fans hating Dale Hunter for life in the first round of the Washington Capitals series and upsetting the defending Stanley Cup champs Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round where the name David Volek still brings up a bad memory for some Penguins fans and jubilation for Islanders fans.
The 2000’s brought us Alexi Yashin and Michael Peca where in 2002, their firsts as Islanders, both were part in what I consider one of the roughest series ever against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Islanders fans will always remember the Shawn Bates penalty shot, and our hatred for Darcy Tucker for injuring Peca and taking him out of that series. Most fans who were around for that series wouldn’t mind another shot at Toronto someday.
This now brings me to the new face of the franchise, John Tavares. He’s been here for a couple of years, but has yet to experience an Islanders playoff series. If history does repeat itself, should fans expect some magic and memories for his first playoff experience? I would hope so. Many analysts are saying if the Islanders make the playoffs that they’re unpredictable and that they could be dangerous and they’re correct in that statement. They’re healthy, confident, and have one of the deepest teams in the League right through the minors. If I’m a local fan, go to as many playoff games as possible. If you have non hockey fans interested, this is the time to build up the Isles fan base because no one will be disappointed. History will be made, memories shall be created. A new Era is about to begin. Get excited!