Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sending a Message: Why the Islanders Held Today's Press Conference

Many people are wondering why the Isles bothered to hold a press conference to make an announcement that everyone already heard.

After all, by Wednesday night, the exact terms of the new contract were leaked and, for all intents and purposes, this was a done deal.

So there had to be something else that the Islanders were keeping from the media. Surely they were going to give him the captaincy this afternoon, as if today's presser could be any less of a coronation. But that didn't happen either, and as it turns out, there was nothing new to report.

Of course, none of that matters, because those are not the reasons why the Islanders felt the need to disturb everyone's lunch break.

While it's a nice side-effect, the purpose of this formal announcement was not to feed the fanbase with some encouraging news. The mere fact that John Tavares re-signed with the team for six years gave us something to smile about, the lack of a press conference wasn't going to put a damper on anything.

As Michael Schuerlein of exclaimed, this was "a major neener neener to Toronto." Also true, but again, not the main focus.

The real reason why Garth Snow and John Tavares sat together at the dais this afternoon was to proclaim one thing: The New York Islanders have officially arrived, whether anyone likes it or not.

It's one thing for Tavares to sign, it's another thing to have him stand up there and (even though he stuttered quite a bit) produce sound bytes that'll be echoed on everyone's Twitter feeds and Facebook walls for the next several days, perhaps even weeks.

When the man you've drafted to be the face of your franchise gets up and pledges his allegiance to this team and to Long Island, people (and pending UFA's) remember that. And once you back up those words with, say, a playoff berth (which will hopefully occur in the near future), people remember that too.

The Isles aren't some small market team clamoring for a move to Quebec City. This is a franchise with a rich tradition of excellence and pride, and they're committed to sticking around for a long time, even if that's not in Nassau Coliseum or in Hempstead. This team will likely be known as the "New York" Islanders for many years to come.

The message here was crystal clear. Garth Snow and Co. wanted to say to the various player agents out there that the perception of this team couldn't be less accurate. We're the real deal and if you don't believe  us, just ask John Tavares.

Let's hope that this trend of positive news continues as we head into training camp and the start of the regular season.

More on Josh Bailey's contract talks later.

Comments are welcome.


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