The New York Islanders identity crisis
Jan 6, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) scores the winning goal past New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) in overtime at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche defeated the Islanders 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There’s just nothing to set the New York Islanders apart from their competition.

There was a time when fans were casually optimistic.

Sure, management had allowed three crucial contributors to walk in free agency (alright, so Frans Nielsen wasn’t their choice). But the team had just snagged two highly-touted skaters, and there was cap space and tradeable assets at their disposal.

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned to improve our club,” general manager Garth Snow said at the start of the offseason.

This was the right philosophy. The problem was the method.

One of the more memorable quotes from the movie The Incredibles came from Elastigirl, who said, “Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it.”

While she wasn’t talking about the sad state of the Islanders, she could’ve been. The Isles were regarded as a brutish team with scoring depth before the offseason. This served them well; New York advanced to the second round of the postseason for the first time in twenty-three annums.

But now? Nobody knows their identity. They’re not particularly fast, or strong, or skilled, or chippy. There’s just nothing that’s going to set them apart from the competition.

“The thing about the Islanders is that they lost true identity Islanders guys,” former center Scott Gomez remarked on NHL Network. “Okposo, Nielsen, Martin, those guys identified as New York Islanders… But the guys they brought in, are they true identity Islanders? Chimera, Ladd, it’s not their fault. They got paid, they got their money.

“But, when you think of the Islanders, when you thought of those years, those are key guys, and they’re gone.”

Sure, there’s loads of talent on the current roster. This was exhibited when the Isles blanked the Bruins, 4-0, on Monday afternoon.

But the Isles are going through some sort of an ‘identity crisis’ that has limited continuity and any chances for sustained success. It’s simply not good enough to have a ‘good roster’ these days (if you can even characterize there’s like that). Team’s need recognizable styles of play, and the Isles just don’t have one.

There’s been lots of finger-pointing and name-calling following this debacle of a start. Fans have argued over who’s really at fault. To a large extent, Garth Snow is. Aldous Huxley once said, “Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them.”

Snow had a nice philosophy. But in the unforgiving world of sports, that just isn’t enough.

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