The Truth of My Youth
I was a shaggy-haired, just-starting-to-shave 15-year-old Islanders fan in 2006. I had been through the lost year of my youth as an 8th grader in 2004-2005, and I was fresh off of the “Neil Smith firing/Garth Snow hiring” that was zany enough to make the 2003 Laviolette firing seem sensible.
Some childhood, I know.
But what happened that September shook me to my core: ESPN’s Scott Burnside was on the right side of a zinger.
The latest punch line was unveiled Tuesday afternoon, when it was announced that DiPietro, a goalie who has won zero playoff games, had been awarded the longest contract in the history of the game and what is believed to be the second-longest contract in the history of pro sports.
Ha, ha, ha. Ho, ho, ho. Stop it, you’re killing us. Or is it just the franchise that’s being rubber-chickened to death?
Wait, wait, wait, wait wait. You mean I’m gonna be F*%$ing 30 and we’re STILL gonna have this guy under contract. I couldn’t wrap my mind adolescent mind around it: the image of my young children and I standing along with 16,000 orange-and-blue clad fans at Rick DiPietro’s final game at the Nassau Lighthouse MegaColiseum 3000. It just didn’t seem right.
Being an Isles fan had been tough, but I had no idea what I was in for. I can’t imagine Rick did either.
“…what a long strange trip it’s been.“
A New Era
When the Islanders’ buyout of DiPietro is official, they will have rid themselves of what is, without a doubt, the worst contract in the history of sports. Yes, the Islanders will still be paying DiPietro 29 years after drafting him, but the Islanders won’t have his $4.5-million cap hit to take up space under the salary cap floor.
But it’s so much more than that to the Islanders’ tortured fanbase. The franchise has turned a corner.
Gone are the days of slotting Bridgeport’s starter into the big club’s lineup months before the season has even started.
Gone are the days of the “braintrust” pretending this is the year that the Glass Man will return to form.
Gone are the days of wondering why our “franchise goaltender” is devolving into a scraggly bearded hobo.
Gone are the days of a 60% Ranger-fan-filled Coliseum chanting “DP Sucks.”
Gone are the days of being the butt of every joke, the “your-team-sucks” trump card for 29 other fan bases.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”