In fact they're used to being the butt of many jokes -- however fair or unfair they may have been -- but things are starting to change on Long Island. Starting with the additions of quality goaltenders and scorers, wrapped up with the additions of two top-4 defenseman over the weekend. The Isles went from a playoff bubble team to a playoff contender overnight in the eyes of many.
It's the start of a new begging for the team that was once referred to by TSN as the doormats of the league. Now they're being given respect after a summer of changes.
"I think we’ve been kind of crapped on for so long in this organization," Matt Martin, who has been through the ups and downs with the Isles over the years, said.
"You try to block out most of the things that are said. Obviously the media is media. They’re going to talk and they’re going to say what they want to say, so we’re always focused inside this dressing room and sticking together. Now getting all the people we got in the offseason and then [Nick] Leddy and [Johnny] Boychuk was kind of the icing on the cake. I’m sure people are talking about us being a playoff team and a contender in the East. We’re all excited in here. We’re getting prepared for Carolina and I think the main thing for us is to not look too far ahead."
The additions of Boychuk and Leddy solidify what was a questionable defense before the trades were made to acquire the two from Boston and Chicago respectively. Bringing in Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson helped shore up the goaltending issues the Islanders have had and Nikolay Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski help give them depth on offense.
The aggressive offseason and late preseason trade has been enough for a lot of people to believe the Islanders can make noise in 2014-15. But the players aren't worrying themselves with it.
"Everybody’s got their own opinion and they’re going to think what they want about us," Kyle Okposo said. "We believe in what we have and if people start to then good for them, but it doesn’t make any minor difference to us."
And ask Jack Capuano how he feels about the new found belief in the team from the people paid to talk about the sport and he'll tell you he has yet to see anyone give his team a real chance.
"No one is giving us an opportunity," he told reporters. "How many players do we have in the top – if you even want to go 150 -- players in the league? Talking about the building, talking about distractions these are conversations as we move forward we’re going to have with our guys. It’s a great opportunity this year to prove people wrong. No one has picked us. They’ve talked about our defense. They’ve talk about a lot of unknowns on our hockey club. This is a great opportunity for us to pull together as a team and prove a lot of people wrong. So I’m looking forward to it."
For Martin, the Isles have compiled the most complete team they have had since he has been on Long Island.
"Obviously for now it’s just on paper…but I’m confident that this is the best team we’ve put on the ice," he said. "All those additions are only going to help. I think the management has sent a message that we want to win and we want to win now. They’re going to do what they have to do to get that win. There was a lot of competition in training camp for the first time since I’ve been here and everyone is on their toes. I think it’s going to be interesting. It’s healthy competition and at the end of the day everyone in here just wants to win a Stanley Cup with the New York Islanders."