Barry Trotz had something to say upon being presented his Stanley Cup ring in November, addressing the Washington squad he had helmed to the franchise's long-awaited first championship the previous spring.
"You can do it again," Trotz told Alex Ovechkin and the Caps in the visiting locker room at Barclays Center. "You'll have to go through the (effing) Island, OK? But you guys can do it again."
No one is scoffing anymore at that middle zing, no one should be snickering anymore at this woebegone franchise, which has proven dramatically what a little adult supervision, accountability, actual on-ice structure -- and a bought-in rallying point concerning a departed superstar -- can do in implementing the longest of overdue culture changes and fostering immediate results.
Not after the Islanders - with their accomplished coach and even more accomplished first-year GM, Lou Lamoriello -- thoroughly dismantled and shut down Sidney Crosby and the high-flying Penguins in a stunning four-game sweep with yet another defensively stringent victory, this one by a 3-1 count Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Of course, the Capitals still have plenty of work to do to ensure a second-round matchup with their former coach and his rising new team, leading Carolina two games to one in the other Metropolitan Division pairing entering Thursday's Game 4 in Raleigh.
Yet how fitting this all seems to be shaping up for the Isles in the suddenly wide open Eastern Conference, especially with top-seeded Tampa Bay also becoming the first Presidents' Trophy winner in league history to get broomed in the opening round against John Tortorella and No. 8 Columbus.
Why not dare to dream a bit about the potential scenario of Trotz squaring off against Washington next, and then - dare we even suggest it? - the possibility for an even juicier marquee meetup with former Isles captain John Tavares and the hometown Toronto team he spurned the Isles and their throaty fan base for last summer. The Leafs, like the Caps, still must survive a formidable first-round foe, leading Boston by the same 2-1 margin ahead of Wednesday's game up north.
Yes, yes, yes, so much still has to happen for those storybook scenarios to unfold, and we all know playoff success is the ultimate one-day-at-a-time proposition.
There also always is the fear that a week-plus layoff between series and the shift from the tinderbox atmosphere at Nassau Coliseum back to Brooklyn for the first games there in over two months will affect the budding mojo against either the loaded defending champs or the impressive Hurricanes.
This is not to predict another series victory just yet against either one, but at least know that a team pushing first-round brooms - Nashville in 2017 and expansionist Vegas last year --- have advanced to the Cup Finals the last two springs.
And even if it wasn't quite the Coliseum - what is? -- the Isles' rabid fans positively rocked Barclays during the 2016 playoff vanquishing of Florida and they will board the LIRR and change at Jamaica and do so again.
With unheralded Lamoriello signing Robin Lehner building on his impressive turnaround from depression and substance abuse with a terrific 2018-19 and an even better performance in allowing just six goals to the Penguins, with stingy enough play in their own end and opportunistic punch in the offensive zone, there is every reason to believe that the Islanders are the real deal.
Lamoriello and Trotz have convinced a maligned and/or unproven roster to rally around Tavares' departure, step up their professionalism and fully revamp their playing style. Enough to become the first NHL team since Ottawa a full century ago to finish with the fewest goals against in the league one year after having the most goals against. By the way, there were THREE teams in the NHL in 1918-19!
More recently, Isles co-owner Jon Ledecky sat at a podium at the team's Long Island practice facility barely one year ago and apologized to the fan base for an 80-point finish and a second straight playoff miss, blowing all momentum and goodwill earned from the franchise's first playoff series advancement in 23 years in 2016.
GM Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight sat alongside Ledecky, a full indication they'd be staying, and Snow insulted the fan base further by suggesting he had constructed a team that he believed was ready to compete for a Stanley Cup.
At my former employer, I wrote a column shredding Snow for that delusion, and even with this spring's immediate success, there is no reason to back off claims that it was time for Snow to be removed from the post he'd held for 11 seasons, with just three playoffs appearances to show for it.
The constant excuse-making over injuries and arena issues and Snow's smarmy smarter-than-everyone defiance and stubbornness had beyond run its course, especially after a year in which his decade-long rebuilding plan had resulted in another sub-.500 record and the most goals allowed in the league.
This is not to say that Garth hadn't uncovered several gems in the draft during his tenure, and he gets credit then and now for much of the current team's composition. Of course he does.
But let's face it, Snow -- and ownership - deserve their fair share of blame for the mishandling of the Tavares situation and the ultimate departure of Mr. "We Don't Need You" in July.
There also was no way Snow ever would have been secure enough to hire a pedigreed coach such as Trotz after years of sticking with organizational buddies Scott Gordon, Jack Capuano and Weight to run the bench over the previous decade. Is there a more stinging indictment of Snow and Weight than the worst-to-first goals against transformation under their replacements with much of the same cast?
Principal owner Scott Malkin undoubtedly made the right and necessary decision in pursuing and bringing in Lamoriello, the no-nonsense Devils legend, as team president after the Maple Leafs no longer had any use for the 76-year-old Hall of Famer.
Just as Lamoriello made the correct moves to replace Snow with himself and Weight with Trotz upon taking over in May.
While it might not be the Capitals coming "through the (effing) Island" next week, the new and vastly improved Islanders will be ready and waiting for whoever effing comes next.