I Feel Your Pain: A Thrashers Fan’s Advice for Islanders Fans

By guest writer Emma

My dear Islanders fans,

I am truly sorry to hear that the vote to finance a new stadium has failed. It sounds like some elements of the electorate who probably have never been to a game or may not even like hockey at all managed to hijack the issue, frame it a certain way and ride the momentum they created to this conclusion. This sort of dirty politicking is unfortunately all too familiar.

I feel like I have some experience in this field. But I also feel a need to point out where your situation differs from mine and why you should not give up hope just yet.

First: it’s not over until everything is completely, totally official. There are no definite plans yet for anything. We know the team has four years left on its lease with the Coliseum. Do you know how long four years is? So many things can happen! Perhaps private or corporate funding for a new stadium can be found. Perhaps some sort of new agreement with the Coliseum can be found. Four years is quite a long time to figure something else. Consider: my team had about four weeks between the announcement of negotiations with True North and the announcement of the sale. Yes, you hear all those things about Kansas City and Quebec City and Hartford, all of that, but it is not nearly at the same stage things were at in May with the Thrashers. There are no known plans, no organizations coming forward yet and officially declaring their intent to, you know, make a new team somewhere by taking the Islanders.

Second: do not expect widespread support, either from fellow fans or NHL players. In my case there was a lot of “Congratulations, Winnipeg!” from all sorts of sources, going as far up the chain as Paul Bissonnette and Jonathan Toews, but pretty much no “Sorry, Atlanta!” from the players I’m keyed into. I’ve had friends wonder why that is so. I suppose in the Islanders’ case it’s that same sort of outdated “Islanders suck!” rhetoric Vicky spoke about in her latest post. In my case it was “But it’s hot in the South, how can there be hockey?” Other fans may”“and will, in fact”“make insensitive jokes and remarks, minimize your feelings or tell you you’re overreacting or you need to get over it. I have experienced all of these things personally. There will be people who are, you know, decent human beings and who will not be jerks to you. Hang on to them. They’re your real friends and fellow fans.

Third: know that, if the worst were to happen and the Islanders did indeed pitch up and move somewhere else after 2015 (God forbid this happens, and I do not want it to), you would be able to get closure. I had no idea that the game on April 10 was the final game ever. If I had known, I think I would have done things differently. I’m happy I went, but I went thinking there would be more in September. I wish to God there had been an official final season, a chance for us to really legitimately say goodbye and for the team to say goodbye too. The fact that this didn’t happen to us still rubs Thrashers fans raw and is going to be one of those things we hold as a seething, bitter resentment until we’re old and wrinkled and shouting in some sports bar about how back in 2011″¦

Don’t give up now. Things look bad, but I know a case where precedent is on your side. In Columbus, Ohio, this same thing happened: a referendum to build a new arena for the then-budding Blue Jackets failed in 1997 after they began an expansion bid. (Speaking of expansion bids, I fail to understand how these could not have been used in, say, Winnipeg and Kansas City now. It would expand the league to an even 32 and no one would be hurt. Never mind that, though.) Nationwide insurance company stepped in to finance the arena and so Columbus was awarded the Blue Jackets. Also consider two other teams that recently were teetering on the brink of relocation: the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins. In those cases, new owners stepped in, which is possible with the Islanders; you benefit from a longer history and more possibilities of former players pitching in to help the team, something Atlanta honestly and sadly did not have.

Poor ownership decisions sank my team. (Protip to Atlanta Spirit: even in good economic times, let alone a recession, a hockey team is not a house you can renovate, flip and resell for profit soon after purchase.) I hope bad decisions do not sink your team too, but you have time on your side. Know that, if anyone understands what you might be feeling right now, it’s me, and we can talk if you need to talk it out. Keep hope alive.

Love sincerely,

Emma

Editor’s note: this piece originally appeared on Emma’s very delightful, Persephone APPROVED!, blog: Adventures in Pucking.

9 thoughts on “I Feel Your Pain: A Thrashers Fan’s Advice for Islanders Fans”

  1. Aw man, hockey is the greatest sport!

    I am a Phoenix Coyotes fan (there are dozens of us, dozens!) & know how soul-crushing the uncertainty of your team’s future can be. & how much stupid shit people can say about your team and town, especially when it’s not a “traditional hockey market”.

    As a fan of a team who’s gotten more than one “one more year”, I know going all in for my team has made it just a little bit easier (not that much easier, but a little). I’ve been lucky to walk out (crying, hard) of every, what if this is really the one, final game of the season knowing I supported them the best I could, waving flags, wearing jerseys, getting in internet arguments about the state of sports in Phoenix, AZ.

    Best of luck to the Islander’s on their future, at least someone owns your team ;)

    1. Hey Kat! Yes, yes it is! I’m so happy I was introduced to it. Before now, I cared for like no sports at all.

      I know some Coyotes fans! I saw a lot of the same terrible stuff being said about them in like April or so, during their playoff run and right before my team started to disappear…As for the “traditional” market thing, I argue that in this day and age, who cares? Because hockey can go anywhere, basically, so long as ice can be created and maintained in a temperature-controlled area. It works the same way as your refrigerator and freezer: it’s colder in there than it it outside! What is this witchcraft? LOL!

      I remember seeing some little boy crying at game 4 of PHX/DET. He was convinced it was the end of the line for his team. And my God it broke my heart.

      We “nontraditional market” folks gotta stick together, yo.

  2. How have I lived so long without knowing of this fine blog? Hockey for life.

    And I’ll admit, I was one of those people who congratulated Winnipeg and thought “why does the South need hockey?” However, I have since changed my opinion and realize that each team has its fans. I would lose my ish if I lost my team.

    1. It’s a rather new blog, actually…We would like more of the great readers here to go over there as recently we’ve been dealing with a rather persistent troll-type commenter and it hasn’t been much fun!

      I’m glad to hear you’ve changed your mind–that’s what I aim for when I ask people to imagine how it would feel if their team left. Sometimes that approach works. That feels good. :)

      Might I ask: who’s Your Team? Mine now is becoming the Bruins (interesting theory: a lot of the Thrashers fans I know are picking Original Six teams to like; I think part of it is we don’t want to get hurt again).

          1. Mona and Gwen both! Y’all will be pleased then, my co-editor Krista is quite the Blackhawks fan (but in exile a bit, she lives in Ohio). She just wrote yesterday about Carcillo and Brunette being introduced as Blackhawks and recently reviewed/screencapped the 2010 Stanley Cup DVD. I’m on more of the Bruins beat lol. C’mon over! Leave loads of positive comments! Don’t forget to be awesome!

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