13 consecutive seasons with one team.
That’s not something you see very often these days when you consider the impact of free agency and the salary cap.
But forward Josh Bailey, selected 9th overall by the Islanders in the 2008 NHL Draft, is entering his 13th season with the blue and orange and that puts him in unique company when it comes to recent New York athletes.
Closer Mariano Rivera retired in 2013 after a 19-year Hall of Fame career with the Yankees that began in 1995.
Former Mets Captain/3rd baseman David Wright played his entire 14-year career with the Amazins from 2004 to 2018.
Quarterback Eli Manning retired after the 2019 season following a 16-year career with the Giants.
Former Yankees Captain Derek Jeter played his entire 20-year Hall of Fame career with the Yankees from 1995 to 2014.
Through his first 12 seasons, Bailey went through plenty of ups and downs with the Islanders and he’s still in search of something that the players from other local teams mentioned above all have and that’s the experience of winning a championship or playing for a championship. Last season, Bailey and the Islanders stormed through the bubble in Toronto and made it to the Eastern Conference Final. When the scene shifted to Edmonton for the NHL’s version of the “Final Four”, the Islanders lost to the Lightning in six games.
Josh Bailey And The Islanders Are Ready To Take The Next Step:
After a great playoff run, Bailey and the Islanders are back to work hoping to take care of some unfished business during the 2020-21 season.
“It’s a clean slate now,” said Bailey this week as training camp got underway. “I think you learn stuff each season and each post-season so we’ll try and build off it and I think everyone is just hungry for more and excited to get going.”
After coming up just two wins shy of going to the Stanley Cup Final and six wins shy of hoisting the cup, the Islanders are hoping that the chemistry that they built in the bubble, that helped take them deep into the playoffs, can carry over into the new season. There have been a few changes to the roster including Devon Toews getting traded, Thomas Greiss and Derrick Brassard leaving in free agency, and the signing of Russian goalie Ilya Sorokin. But most of the team that created so much magic in the playoffs is still together.
And according to Bailey, so is the chemistry.
“It didn’t go anywhere so we’re all still as good a friends as we were before and excited to get an opportunity to play together again,” said Bailey who turned 31 years old this past October. “Obviously, a couple of new pieces here and there but for the most part we got the same group coming back which I think we’re excited about. We learned a lot last year and you want to put that to good use this year.”
Josh Bailey Is Right Up There With Some Islander Greats:
When you think about Bailey’s career with the Islanders, he doesn’t have the flashy offensive numbers that you would associate with a player that has been around as long as he has.
In 865 career regular season games, Bailey has amassed 154 goals and 322 assists for 476 points. But his points per game output is better in the post-season. In 52 career playoff games, Bailey has 10 goals and 27 assists for 37 points. In fact, Bailey did something in last year’s playoffs that only two other Islanders have ever accomplished. Bailey joined Bryan Trottier and Denis Potvin as the only players in team history with six or more multi-assist games in a single post-season.
Bailey was superb in the playoffs last season with two goals and 18 assists for 20 points in 22 games. After moving Bailey around during the regular season, Head Coach Barry Trotz kept him on a line during the playoffs with Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier and that’s what you’ll likely see this season.
“I sort of gave him the short end of the stick last year because I just felt that he could be the guy that could play every position and he did,” said Trotz. “And he never complains. If you look in the bubble, I just left him over there with Brock and I think it’s a better comfort for him so what you saw in the bubble and what you’re going to see this year is the Josh Bailey that I think we all appreciate.”
Trotz certainly knew about what type of player Bailey was even before he became the Islanders Head Coach. When Trotz was with the Washington Capitals, he was the coach for the Metropolitan Division at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game which was Bailey’s first and only All-Star Game appearance. That weekend was actually the first time that Trotz had ever met Bailey and it was really the first time he saw what Bailey was all about up close.
“I could see the skillsets,” said Trotz. “I could see the smarts. When you’re playing against him, sometimes you don’t notice him because he’s not a Tom Wilson heavy physical banger…you notice him more on the hockey IQ, the smarts, the good stick and the deception that he does and obviously he’s put up points.”
He’s certainly put up some points over the years but let’s go back to that very significant number of 865 career regular season games with the Islanders. He’s currently 5th on the Islanders’ all-time list and just look at the players that are on that list with him…
1-Bryan Trottier 1,123
2-Denis Potvin 1,060
3-Bobby Nystrom 900
4-Clark Gillies 872
5-Josh Bailey 865
Last season, Bailey played in his 800th career game and moved past Bob Bourne (814) on that list. During the upcoming tseason, barring an injury or a trade, Bailey will move past Clark Gillies and then Bobby Nystrom and he’ll be in third place on the all-time list. Bailey is currently on a streak of playing in 153 consecutive regular season games.
“To have done it all here is certainly special when you look at the other names on that list,” said Bailey last season when he hit the 800 mark. “Just to be mentioned with some of those guys is something to be proud of.”
Josh Bailey Is A Terrific Leader For The Islanders:
If you know anything about the other players in front of and behind Bailey on that list (Mike Bossy is 7th with 752 and Patrick Flatley is 8th with 712), then you know how much respect those players had in the locker room.
The same goes for Bailey on the current Islanders team.
Just ask his linemates.
“He’s just such a great guy to be around,” said Anthony Beauvillier. “Everything he does seems to be right. He’s great with everyone. He’s a great guy in the locker room and obviously a great player on the ice.”
“Bails…what he’s meant to the team…I think you probably can’t say enough,” said Brock Nelson. He’s a guy you can lean on and he flies under the radar for sure. He’s not a flashy guy. He just kind of does everything right and just a good guy to have. He’s a competitor. It might not show but he cares deeply about everyone on the team and that’s all you can ask from a guy.”
Josh Bailey Has Been A Lightning Rod For Debate Among Islanders Fans:
Just how good Bailey is has been a debate since the first time he stepped on the ice, especially by the fan base.
“He’s not that good,” according to some fans.
“Bailey is so underrated”, say other Islanders supporters.
“Why is Josh Bailey still on this team” is something that he naysayers would utter.
“The guy is an elite forward that does so many things,” say fans when he scores a big goal like his overtime tally in game one of the 2019 playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins, when he has a big season like during the 2017-18 campaign when he made the All-Star Game, or when he performs like he did in last season’s playoffs.”
Islanders fans clearly have a love/hate relationship with him, but at the end of the day he’s the one player on the team that is serenaded with a song from Islanders Country.
There are times during a game when the fans at Nassau Coliseum will sing “HEEEEEEEY Josh Bailey! OOOOO! AHHHH! We Wanna Know! Will You Score A Goal?” It’s a song that originates from the Blue and Orange Army in section 229 (formerly 329 and will be 329 again at UBS Arena) and there’s also the version when he scores a goal that ends with “What do you know! You scored a goal!”
But to really appreciate what Bailey is all about, you have to look at his entire body of work, what he means to the team, and what he does in the community.
“What I’ve learned with Josh is I’ve probably underappreciated the whole package and now that I’ve been here for a while, I understand the whole package now,” said Trotz. “He plays through injury. To me, he’s a tremendous leader. He’s in the community. He’s a family guy and I think that there’s a lot of guys that not demand a lot of respect but get a lot of respect in the dressing room. He is one that gets a lot in the room and sometimes he goes under the radar.”
Love him or hate him, Josh Bailey has been a big part of the Islanders for a long time. He’s been on some good teams and some not so good teams, but at the end of the day, he has worn the Islanders jersey with pride. Sometimes with a player, it’s not all about the numbers so when you examine everything there is about the native of Bowmanville, Ontario in Canada, anyone involved with the team or anyone that roots for the team should come to the same conclusion.
When you sum up his career to date, Josh Bailey has been a terrific New York Islander, both on and off the ice, and that should be enough to one day get him inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.