It's almost Christmas, and as a male 20-something that has a laptop and an XBOX 360, I have about everything I need to keep myself occupied for long periods of time. This makes it really hard for people to buy things for me. That's OK though, it usually makes my bank account a little happier.
But this Christmas, there is one thing I would like. It's for the Islanders to do what they didn't the 2nd half of last season and tank. Not that I wish them harm, I want the best for each and every one of them. But sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can start to move up in the world.
I know what you're thinking. What kind of low-life would ever root against his favorite team? Well, this one. I'm willing to do what no fan should ever do, if only because my team is the NHL equivalent of the Washington Generals.
OK, I know it all sounds ridiculous. But there has been only one team that has (arguably) been worse than the Islanders during the last 15 seasons, and they have only been in existence for 8 of them.
Right now the Islanders are locked in a two horse race with the Lightning for title of the worst team in the NHL. The winner gets the best chance of obtaining the #1 overall pick in the 2009 draft through the lottery. The winner of the lottery then gets, presumably, the consensus pick of John Tavares. It's no guarantee, but it's as good as an opportunity as any team can get.
In the post Milbury era, the Islanders have not picked higher than seventh. It's been thirteen years since they've had a top 5 pick and the worst GM in the history of the franchise hasn't had a hand in the decision making. To be fair he did draft Rick DiPietro and Roberto Luongo, but outside of those two he didn't make any significant selections after the 1996 draft when the Isles used their first three picks on JP Dumont, Dan Lacoutre and Zdeno Chara. Beginners luck, you could call it.
But there's a reason this comes to mind during this time of year. December and January are the annual collapse of the Islanders, no matter how well or poorly they had been playing during October and November. Since the lockout the team is a combined 33-46-7-4 in December and January. If you combine their October and November records since the lockout, they are 47-42-3-4. In three Feburarys, they're 18-10-2-2.
As the holidays come and go, so do the Islanders.
The same has happened this year, only much, much worse. The Islanders are winless in the month of December, 0-8-1, after starting the year a decent 10-12-2. It's the same as any other year, only this year I want the bottoming out to continue. Sure, it's not good for anyone involved. Fans, players, staff. No one will enjoy it. It's also a little ridiculous to say that one 18-year old is going to change the direction of a franchise. But another early exit would make this the 15th season in a row that the Islanders have not won a playoff series. During that time the franchise has twice selected from one of the top two spots in the draft. Those picks were used on Rick DiPietro and Wade Redden. One changed the face of the franchise, the other turned out to be a two-time all-star defender who puts up almost .5 points per game.
If it's a 50/50 chance that Tavares is going to be a franchise changer, I'm willing to take that chance. At this point, the Islanders should be, too.