Schwartz: A Fan’s Stroke Of Brilliance On The Isle

Sean Connors has been protecting the public as an NYPD officer for the last seventeen years, but since the mid 1990’s, his labor of love has been drawing pictures of players from his beloved New York Islanders.  Originally from Ticonderoga, a town in Upstate New York, Connors currently resides in Levittown on Long Island.  When he’s not on duty as a police officer, he’s cheering on the Islanders and spends time doing some amazing art work.

His incredible work over the years has drawn a lot of positive feedback, but most recently his notoriety skyrocketed thanks to a television spot about him that MSG shows during Islanders telecasts.   He generally sells his art work on a commission basis and usually by word of mouth on Twitter (@bckt106) and Instagram (seans1470), but the television exposure has been overwhelming.

“Being featured on MSG Network and MSG Plus has been a great experience,” said Connors.  “The crews that put it together are phenomenal and professional and I can’t say enough good things about them. They made the whole thing easy and I am truly honored to be a part of the Islanders while they are televised.  It’s nice to have my artwork on display for others to see, plus it’s helped generate some business too.”

Connors will turn 50 this coming March and has been an Islanders fan since the 1977-78 season.   After he began drawing the pictures and word spread of his art work, Connors received a request around the start of the 1995-96 season to draw a picture of Bobby Nystrom hosting the Stanley Cup.  At that point, Connors had a feeling that his art work was going to be more than just a labor of love.

“I started to go to baseball card shops with my artwork to see if they would display them for sale,” said Connors.  “Most were reluctant, but it pointed me in the right direction of certain people.”

Suddenly, Connors found himself face to face with people at places like the National Hockey League offices and Steiner Sports.  The meetings didn’t end up with any business, but he took it as a learning experience in the event that other opportunities would arise….and they did.

Shortly after those meetings, Connors did drawings of Ziggy Palffy and Todd Bertuzzi for the Henry Viscardi School in Searingtown as a charitable donation.  The players signed the drawings and that experience opened the door for Connors to be noticed by the Islanders organization.

“Players started asking for drawings and to help with charities for something unique,” recalled Connors.

Among the Islanders greats that have been subjects of Connors are Nystrom, Bryan Trottier, and my favorite Islander of all time Mike Bossy.  So naturally, if I would have to pick my favorite drawing that Connors has on canvas, it of course would be “The Boss”!

Over the years, Connors received requests for art work from Eric Fichaud, Derek King, Travis Green, Claude LaPointe, Rich Pilon, Mark Parrish and current Islanders forward Matt Martin who owns a painting from Connors of him playing in the Stadium Series game against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium in 2014.

“It was really cool,” said Martin.  “I think the first time I saw (his work) was on Twitter and I actually wanted one for myself.  He asked me to sign one and I thought it was really cool and he ended up making one for me as well.  I have that piece actually hanging in my office in my house and it’s pretty special to me.”

Connors would make a few more of those pieces for Martin’s foundation that are given away as auction items at the organization’s live events.  Martin follows Connors work through videos on Twitter and Instagram and is intrigued by his progressions, how the art work starts, and how he is able to perfect the coloring.

But Martin would actually like to see how the work is done first hand.

“It’s just really great work and the detail is awesome,” said Martin.  “I’ve never actually gotten a chance to sit there with him and watch him do it but I’d love to do. It’s really cool and it’s not even what he does for a living.  It’s more of a hobby for him.”

That photo of Martin, along with a couple of others, are among Connors’ favorites since he started doing Islanders art work.

“I’ve really had so many favorites over the years, said Connors.  “If I had to choose a few it would be Bobby Nystrom hoisting the Cup, Ziggy Palffy that’s shown on the commercial and Matt Martin’s Stadium Series drawing I did for him. Honestly, they are all my favorites.”

Over the years, Connors has received a variety of different responses from the team and players regarding his art work but generally those who have seen his work have come away impressed.  In fact, there’s a pretty significant current Islanders star that has commissioned Connors to do a painting.

“I’m currently in the midst of working on a piece requested by Mat Barzal,” said Connors.

Now that is going to be a must-see piece of art work and Barzal can’t wait for the finished product.

“I’m so impressed,” said Barzal.  “I could never draw.  I had terrible penmanship so I really appreciate the work he does and I just think it’s amazing he’s able to do it.”

Connors has also been recognized for his art work by many groups of Islanders fans and businesses including the “Isles Fan Meet-Ups”, Offside Tavern, Yes Men’s Outfitters, Oyster Bay Brewery and noted Bagel Boss owner and Islanders super fan Donald Rosner who probably should get Connors to do some art work when his “Blueline Deli” opens soon on Long Island.

I’m thinking a barter of bagels in exchange for a painting is a fair swap?

“I absolutely support Sean,” said Rosner.  “I would absolutely barter for a painting.  If he wanted to paint the walls in my store, he can have any wall he wants.  His art is absolutely amazing.”

Connors has done so many wonderful pieces of Islanders art work over the years, but there is one that he has not done yet.  However, due to a recent announcement by the Islanders, Connors is hoping to check off that box really soon.

“Someone I have not drawn that I’m looking forward to do would be number 91,” said Connors.

But he’s not referring to former captain John Tavares.  Connors wants to do a painting of Butch Goring who will have his number 91 retired before the Islanders’ February 29th game against the Boston Bruins at Nassau Coliseum.

“I’m looking to do a banner piece before his number is retired, so soon I should be sharing on social media,” said Connors.

Now that’s a piece that could be sold “upstairs in the toy department”!

Any true fan has an emotional and passionate connection to one’s favorite sports team.  Sean Connors and his love for the Islanders is a perfect example of that.  But he has found a way to take his fandom to a different level.  His Islanders art work is amazing and has caught the attention of so many people in Islanders Country.

And perhaps his best work is still ahead of him…you know, like when he gets to do a follow up piece on that Nystrom painting…when he gets to do one on the Islanders’ fifth Stanley Cup.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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