Josh Bailey Takes On Added Responsibility This Year

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With the departure of Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo over the summer, the New York Islanders lost their two longest tenured players. In their place steps a lightning rod who has sparked endless debates on social media throughout his eight seasons in orange and blue; Josh Bailey.

His unfulfilled promise as a top-line center and subsequent transition to solid two-way winger, and finally to current scapegoat among fans has been well documented. The tumultuous career is a stark contrast to his predecessors who enjoyed long and, mostly, consistent ones.

Though carrying the mantle as longest-tenured player does not come come with the same responsibilities as a captain or alternate captain, it does mean other players will be looking squarely at him for guidance, especially younger ones. Fortunately for the Islanders, like Nielsen and Okposo, Bailey has proven to be nothing but a consummate professional.

Through thick and, lots of, thin, the Canadian has weathered crushing expectations, poor team and individual play, demotions, benchings, and fan vitriol without a whim of resentment. He’s handled every question and negative statement with class and dignity, always aware that he represents a storied organization and tradition.

This year, the 26-year-old (he will be 27 at the start of this season) with a remarkable 557 NHL games, in addition to 22 playoff appearances, will bear the heaviest responsibility of his career. Though he made the NHL as a teenager, unlike the 2008-09 Islanders, this team has high playoff aspirations, and will lean on leaders like Bailey in the locker room.

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