Over the last three years, the Islanders have accomplished a lot in the Lou Lamoriello/Barry Trotz Era. They’ve won six playoff series and 28 playoff games including back-to-back runs to the NHL’s final four. They’re about to move into their brand-new home UBS Arena at Belmont Park and the fan base is on cloud nine with a team that is one of the best in the National Hockey League.
Those are all nice things given what the franchise and their fans have been through since the dynasty years, but there’s still something missing…winning it all.
“I don’t think we’ve accomplished what we’ve wanted to so far,” said forward Casey Cizikas. “Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup.”
The Islanders were two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final in the bubble two seasons ago when they lost in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. Last season, the Islanders met the Lightning again in the Stanley Cup Semifinals and lost game seven 1-0 in Tampa on a shorthanded goal.
This season, the Islanders are looking to complete some unfinished business.
“We had one goal and that was to go all the way and it didn’t happen, said forward J.G. Pageau. “We’re going to set new goals this year.”
“I think we’ve continued to build each year,” said Islanders Captain Anders Lee, who suffered a season ending knee injury back in March and was not part of the Islanders’ playoff run. “We’re going into this season looking to do the same. We’re familiar with one another and we have some new faces.”
Those new faces include free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara who returns to the Islanders twenty years after they traded him to Ottawa in the Alexei Yashin deal. During the off-season, the Islanders also added free agent forward Zach Parise who signed a one-year deal after he was bought out by the Minnesota Wild.
He joins a team that is one of the elite clubs in the NHL and on the cusp of hoisting Lord Stanley.
“You can tell that these guys have played together and had success together for a while,” said Parise. “They all know what they’re doing.”
The core group of Islanders has done a lot of winning over the last few years but they’ve fallen short of their ultimate goal. They’ve progressed each year since Lamoriello took over the hockey operations and brought in Trotz as Head Coach. Combined, they have four Stanley Cup rings and they’ve established a new culture in the organization and there’s now a feeling in and around the franchise that hasn’t felt like this in quite some time.
The days of the Islanders being a laughing stock are over. Now, there is a fire to win.
“I think our whole group has that fire,” said forward Mat Barzal.
“I think there’s some similar feelings and I think excitement,” said forward Brock Nelson. “Everybody is happy to be back.”
The Islanders will go through their third day of training camp on Saturday and then they’ll open up their pre-season schedule on Sunday night against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. In addition to the six exhibition games, the Islanders will also have scrimmages at their Northwell Health Ice Center practice facility at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
And then they begin another quest for the Stanley Cup when they open the 2021-22 season on October 14th in Carolina
“We got some great experience over the past few years and what it takes to be a championship team,” said Cizikas. “Going into this camp, I think we’re all really excited. We’re all ready to chomp at the bit and get this thing going.”
During the 1993-94 season, the Islanders used the marketing slogan “The Best Time In A Long Time” after their surprising run to the Wales Conference Final. At the time, it was the best time in a long time, but make no mistake about it…for younger Islanders fans as well as the faithful that go back to the dynasty years, now is truly the best time in a long time for the Islanders.
They’ve knocked on the door the last couple of years and now they would like nothing else but to finally knock it down.