Yesterday afternoon, I ventured to the Broadway Mall in Hicksville, New York, which is where my beloved Islanders had opened a completely renovated team store. Needless to say, it's a pretty sweet looking place, although I'm not sure whether or not I should be frightened of the two giant statues out front (pictured right). I estimate that they are about twelve feet tall, and they don't represent any particular players. The damn things are really pretty creepy looking, but I guess they're harmless. At least I hope so. The last thing anyone needs is these guys running wild in the food court.
The one gripe I have, and it's a rather curious move by the team, is that they are selling memorabilia from, you know, other teams. I don't have pictures of all of them, but there are signed plaques depicting, among non-Islander related persons; Daniel Briere, Boston Bruins "Legends" and Jason Spezza (pictured below, top left corner of the photo). How these things managed to find their way into the store, I have no idea. This is pretty ludicrous, on a few levels. I don't know how other teams do things, but I can't imagine that the Flames are selling any Oilers Legends memorabilia or that the Senators are selling Ducks championship t-shirts.
What really bugs me, is the Spezza piece. It's tough to see, but believe me it's in the following photo, a photo which the team had the cajones to post on their website. Let's look past the fact that Jason Spezza is not and has never been an Islander. What really grinds my gears is that Spezza just so happens to be a nice reminder of why this team hasn't won a playoff series since 1993.
If you're not familiar with the 2001 draft, let me fill you in. The Islanders had the #2 pick that year, a year which had a good crop of prospects (including two "can't miss" guys), and the team traded that pick, Zdeno Chara and Bill Muckalt to Ottawa for Alexei Yashin. Atlanta took Ilya Kovalchuk with the #1 pick, and the Sens took Spezza at #2. Both, at the time, we're can't miss prospects and as happy as fans were with getting Yashin (at the time), we would of rather had Chara and Spezza. Six years later, both Kovalchuk and Spezza are 1+ point per game players, a feat which Yashin never matched on Long Island.
My point is this; since this franchise is so dollar-bill-desperate and self-serving enough to actually disgrace itself by selling memorabilia from OTHER TEAMS, at least make sure those teams and/or players don't invoke some kind of painful memories for your fans. I know, with this team there are almost too many painful memories that no matter what you do, you're bound to piss someone off, but is it too much to ask for you to think before you act?
If you can't see the Spezza plaque, or are still skeptical, here is the zoomed in version of this photo. Right above Mike Bossy, no less.