Blog | Orange & Blue
Islanders Bobblehead Wish List
It’s known around these parts that my bobblehead collection is a growing thing of beauty. It’s in the 200-plus range. When I travel, I purchase bobbleheads. When I go to games, I purchase tickets to bobblehead giveaway days. Recently I started writing to professional sports team marketing and business executives to pick their brains and consult on bobblehead giveaway ideas.
Many teams, especially in Major League Baseball, understand that a good bobblehead giveaway provides historical context, tells a story and sometimes is good enough to make news. The Dodgers, for example, gave away a Rick Monday American Flag Cubs bobblehead last year when Chicago came to town to honor their former player who happened to make history at Dodger Stadium while playing for the Cubs decades ago. He also played for the Dodgers, so there was a dual connection. This year the Twins are giving away a Lou Gehrig bobblehead on Fourth of July. Why? Because it’s the 75th Anniversary of Gehrig’s famous speech, which happened when the Yankees played the Washington Senators, who eventually became the Twins. It makes sense. It always does.
In the early 2000s, the New York Islanders were very progressive with bobblehead giveaways. They gave out dozens, from legends like Mike Bossy and Bobby Nystrom, to stars of the time like Kenny Jonsson and Alexei Yashin.
Unfortunately, the designs were very basic compared to the stadium giveaways of today. They’re all stubby and round, whereas today’s have actual individualized detail that will catch your eye and force you to appreciate it’s artistic value. I just picked up a Peter Laviolette bobble on eBay for $3.99 and it got me thinking. If the Islanders started giving away bobbleheads again, which five should they do immediately?
1. Bobby Nystrom game winning goal: May 24, 1980. 7:11 of overtime. You know all about it. Now let’s get a bobblehead where Nystrom either has his hands raised in celebration, or is fully jumping with his legs in the air as you see in many historic photographs of the moment.
2. Legends set: The Dodgers have been doing this a lot and it works. Put multiple players on one platform. For the Islanders, you’d expect a legendary lineup of Bossy, Nystrom, Billy Smith, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier.
3. Denis Potvin Stanley Cup: You could do any number of Islanders hoisting the Stanley Cup and the organization should consider it, but if you had to choose one player to hold Lord Stanley it hast to be Potvin. His legacy will forever shine bright as one of only a handful of players in NHL history to captain four straight Stanley Cup winners.
4. Ken Morrow 1980 dual bobble: I’d suggest releasing a bobblehead with Morrow wearing his 1980 Olympic Gold Medal and uniform on one side and him hoisting the Stanley Cup on the other.
5. Tavares Team Canada: I’ll give you one modern idea to chew on. This is very doable and you may even see this one day. A John Tavares bobblehead in Team Canada garb would be a hot item with international appeal.
Four Isles flex Olympic muscles
As the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi you’ll have to wait a few days until hockey begins. This year Islanders fans can root for a number of countries besides their beloved Team USA.
The farther Canada and Austria go, the longer you’ll have a chance to watch John Tavares (Canada), Thomas Vanek (Austria) and Michael Grabner (Austria).
“It’s a huge honor and was a goal and dream of mine as a kid,” said Tavares in a story in this month’s Islanders game day program. “Watching four years ago I wanted to give myself the opportunity to play for my country and win a gold medal. There are a lot of emotions and to receive the call is pretty special. It’s so much all at once, you just try to grasp it all.”
The Islanders video and public address staff paid tribute to the team’s Olympians as well as the Olympians competing on the Colorado Avalanche during the team’s final home game before the Olympic break on Saturday.
“It’s an honor to play for your country, especially on a stage like this,” said Vanek. “For us, it’s fun to be there. We have a tough task ahead of us. It comes down to goaltending and we’ll have to play smart, but we have some guys in the lineup that can make plays. Are we going to be huge underdogs?
We will be, but we have to play smart.”
Lubomir Vishnovsky was selected to his fifth Olympic games for Team Slovakia, but was not cleared to participate after Islanders doctors evaluated him following the Islanders’ final game before the Olympic break Saturday against Colorado, according to a release from the team. He missed 45 of 60 regular season games so far this season due to a concussion.
“I’m honored to have been selected to represent Slovakia at the Sochi Games,” Visnovsky said in a release. “I’m disappointed that I will not have this opportunity to compete for my country, but respect the decision the Islanders have made. I’m excited to watch Team Slovakia compete throughout the next two weeks and wish them all the best.”
The men’s Olympic hockey schedule kicks off Wednesday in Sochi. Canada opens up against Norway on Thursday, while Austria plays Finland the same day.
Isles iced in Stadium Series
Put aside the weather, because it was cold. Forget the horrendous performance by CeeLo Green, because it was bad. And Islanders fan, for a second, don’t worry about the outcome and 2-1 loss to your rival Rangers.
Playing a hockey game at Yankee Stadium sounds great. It’s a fun idea that most, if not all, fans embraced. Rightfully so.
Watching the other Stadium Series game at Dodgers Stadium between Los Angeles and Anaheim on television was remarkable. The Blackhawks game at Soldier Field should be equally as exciting.
Even with the success of the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic, there still seems to be room for more novelty by way of outdoor contests. The possibilities are endless; games at Busch Stadium, at Target Field in Minnesota, maybe even in Miami one day if the NHL wants to get real wild. It works.
They’re making money and fans leave happy.
Yankee Stadium isn’t known to be cavernous, but when your focal point is an ice rink, which is smaller then a baseball field, there are some viewing pleasures that are lost in translation.
Seats behind home plate that would normally cost thousands, were probably the worst in the house to watch the Isles and Rangers square off. It was a role reversal, where the best seats were, in fact, up top.
The sound quality for fan chants was weak also. Islanders’ fans are used to their cheers bouncing off the old walls of the Nassau Coliseum. Even when there is low attendance at a game that the Islanders are losing, the applause and cheers following a goal are seemingly loud. That wasn’t the case at the Stadium Series game.
Aside from Brock Nelson’s goal, you couldn’t hear a loud ovation. It was rare to hear a full “Let’s Go Islanders” chant, or even “Let’s Go Rangers” for that matter.
Also forget hearing the puck and sticks hitting the ice and boards. That sound was lost and drained out long before it reached the stands.
Two games in one week at Yankee Stadium seemed excessive. There’s another beautiful ballpark in the next borrow and Citi Field is craving a hockey game at this point. There was some mild news about Citi Field officials hoping to secure an NHL game in the future following the contest.
I’ll see your Citi Field game – because seriously it would be wonderful and make total sense – and raise you a Stadium Series or Winter Classic at MetLife Stadium also.
Isles, Tavares to get some TV love
Things aren’t going to look any better for the Islanders coming January or February, but hey, they’ll be featured on the new all-access television series “NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other.”
The series will go in-depth on the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games, as well as the NHL Heritage Classic in Vancouver and the Olympics in Russia.
Bristow Global Media, Inc., led by Julie Bristow, who oversaw production of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, is producing it. Ross Greenburg, the former head of HBO Sports, will serve as executive producer.
The series will debut Jan. 22 on NBCSN and also air Feb. 5, Feb. 27 (two-part), March 5 and March 12.
Along with players like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Henrik Lundqvist, Islanders captain John Tavares will get consider airtime both at the Stadium Series and the Olympics.
“What’s most important is we want to give that feeling to the viewer that they’re inside, that they’ll be in training rooms, meeting rooms and locker rooms, they’ll be hearing from coaches, players will be miked on the ice, cameras will be low on the ice in arenas,” Greenburg told NHL.com. “We also want to bring to life these Stadium games and, obviously, Sochi because those are the big events.”
Laviolette name circling around Long Island
Something has to give. The Islanders have lost nine in a row and 14 of their last 16 games as of Monday afternoon. After last season’s sudden and exhilarating charge to the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Islanders looked like they were headed in the right direction.
John Tavares was a Hart Trophy finalist. They nearly knocked off the mighty Penguins in the first round. Fans had lit a fuse in the Coliseum and all seemed well again for a change in Uniondale.
That all seems so long ago now and it was only a few months back. It’s dark and abysmal this season around Orange & Blue country. It all happened so fast. A season that began with much promise, that seemed even more promising when the Islanders acquired Thomas Vanek from Buffalo, has all but finished itself before the midway mark. It would take a herculean effort to get back from this.
Jack Capuano earned a ton of respect after how he guided the team last year. He carried himself with poise and confidence. He slowly crept up the all-time rankings and sits second all-time in franchise history for victories behind Al Arbour; albeit way behind the legend, but still.
Now though, something has to change. You can’t change the roster too much. You may be able to trade for a goalie, or bring in a defenseman, but at what cost? Is it worth trading strong prospects, or a possible high-end draft pick if they keep up this pace? Probably not.
The rumor of former Isles coach Peter Laviolette coming back into the Islanders mix has been widely reported and most agree that he’ll infuse life into this lifeless group. One scribe from Yahoo nailed it, saying that Capuano is the coach that gets a team to a certain place, and Laviolette is capable of bringing them to an even higher level.
And other NHL officials know this too, so you can be certain he’s high on a bunch of next hire lists. Laviolette has a Stanley Cup ring and he’s a proven winner now. It took getting fired by Mike Milbury, leaving the confines of Nassau County and landing in Carolina to win big, but he has the respect and ear of other teams. Forget his stint in Philly. He wasn’t a good fit there. He knows the Island, he knows the franchise and the fan base and he’s hungry. If you’re going to make a move, make it now.
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