There are Islanders fans, then there are season ticket holders and then you have the Islanders Booster Club members who bring both together. This was my first ever visit and experience to an New York Islanders Booster Club meeting and it will leave a lasting impression. Making the trip down from Pennsylvania is nothing new to me, since I grew up in Mineola and I thought I would be in a minority since I only really knew Gary and his wife, but that wasn’t the case as many of the fans there were very social and knowledgeable.
The main attraction were two promising & talented young Islanders: defenseman Calvin de Haan and center Ryan Strome. They came in to a completely filled, even standing crowd of Islanders fans and the two did not disappoint. I’ll say this now, they’re funny. Strome can do stand up comedy from a hockey stand point for any Isles fan, even if it’s at the expense of de Haan. So after introductions were concluded, it was time for the questionnaire from the fans. It would take too long to go over all of them here, but I will blow up the Isles fans heads a little that were in attendance: They asked some really good questions to both players and the answers they received from the players were true and genuine.
A couple of highlights from the questionnaire:
I got in a few questions of my own for both players and I asked Calvin which players style he tries to resemble on the ice: His answer first was Scott Niedermayer. Not too flashy, good two-way game and a winner. His other choices were Paul Martin and Islanders Hall of Famer Kenny Jonsson. If Calvin can come close to any of the players mentioned, which I believe he can be, then the Islanders have themselves a gem of a player for years to come.
For Ryan, I wanted to know what is was like training in the offseason with John Tavares. Ryan admits that it was not really different than what most other players do in the offseason, in which Calvin nodded his head in agreeance. It goes through the summer for 12 weeks; he likes to train early so that he gets to enjoy the days; loves to play golf; when they can scrimmage, they do non-contact and he’s not only playing with others, it’s with other current or future NHL’ers who are working out in the area.
My final question to the both of them was what it was like playing in the World Championships (Editors note: Strome got boos when he jokingly said Canada will beat the US in this years Olympics). Again, Strome being the comic said it stunk because he didn’t score and didn’t medal, but when he got serious he said there was no better feeling in the world. de Haan went further into the answer by saying there was nothing like putting on that Jersey and winning and representing your country. He had gone to both the Saskatoon and Buffalo tournaments and he said when you were there and you looked into the stands, it was like a sea of red.
Other ice chips:
The Islanders don’t pay ANY attention to advanced statistics. Strome and de Haan didn’t even know what a corsi was (to make it simple for fans, if you see a corsi, the higher the number, the better) when it was mentioned that they were tops on the team. When they had that vague look on their faces, I simply replied to them “Just keep doing what you’re doing” to which you could hear every Islanders fan in the first three rows go “Yeah!”
The Islanders don’t pay ANY attention to the media, nor do they care about what bloggers say or anyone else for that matter. They’re a tight group.
To further the “tight group” point, both Strome and de Haan gave the appearance that there is a brotherhood and family within the organization and that they could go to anyone at anytime if needed.
There are multiple reasons why Eric Boulton is on this team and they’re all good ones. In my opinion, he represents himself as a player-coach for this Islanders team and his value goes beyond money & what fans really know.
I was first to get the autographs from the Strome & de Haan. To my delight, Calvin knew of Milford Pa because of the bus trips to the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Penguins. After the long lines of dedicated Islanders fans got their autographs and I was one of the last people in the room, I asked for a pic of the three of us before my two hour trip home. They happily obliged and I am very grateful for their time. A thank you also goes out to the New York Islanders and the Booster Club VP Gary Harding (my sucking up moment) for another great way for fans to get an experience and interact with their favorite Islanders. For more info on the Isles Booster Club, look them up on Facebook or Twitter.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Netminder39