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Lou Lamoriello's belief in this Islanders group doesn't seem to be shared by fans

By Peter Schwartz,


In their 50-year history, the Islanders have given their fans plenty of reasons to believe at various times. After all, there are two very important letters in the world “believe” and those are “LI”, the abbreviation for Long Island. That’s why you see banners around UBS Arena, and previously at Nassau Coliseum, with those two important letters magnified…

The fans want to “beLIeve”, but based on what they heard from President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello on Tuesday, that belief is not a two-way street.

“I believe in this team,” said Lamoriello during his long-awaited 30-minute press conference on Tuesday at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. “I believed in it coming into the season and I still do.”

It was Lamoriello’s first meeting with reporters since the season ended on April 28 th at UBS Arena with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in game six of the opening round playoff series. Two days later, on May 1 st , the Islanders players conducted their exit interviews with the media. Both Lamoriello and Head Coach Lane Lambert did not speak that day.

Lamoriello finally broke his silence on Tuesday, but Lambert has yet to address reporters since his post-game comments after game six. While Lamoriello wouldn’t discuss contract details, he basically confirmed on Tuesday that both he and Lambert will be back for the 2023-24 season.

“We are here,” said Lamoriello. “As far as contractual situations, I think they’re all personal. We’re both under contract, have been and will be.”

Islanders fans may not want to believe it, but the franchise is going to run it back with the regime other than likely changes to Lambert’s coaching staff.  As far as the roster is concerned, Lamoriello kept using that “B” word throughout his presser on Tuesday.

“I believe in this core group,” said Lamoriello. “I believe in our goaltending.  Our assets are in our defense. You go up front and we’re fortunate to have the five (centers) we have. We have flexibility.”

When those comments made the rounds on Twitter, it was clear that many members of Islanders Country were not happy and they let that be known on my Twitter feed.

“I believe in peanut butter and jelly” @StevenMSalter

“I believe in Santa Claus but I know he isn’t real” @Diamondjn1

“Me as well, I believe this core will miss the playoffs” @RabidTauntaun


Those were just some of them.

After reaching the NHL’s final four in 2020 and 2020, the Islanders failed to make the playoffs in 2021-22 but barely squeaked in with a win over the Montreal Canadiens in their final game of the regular season. They lost two overtime games against Carolina in a series that was right there for the taking, but the power play was abysmal and they blew a pair of third period leads.

Those were just some of them.

Now, they are watching the Florida Panthers take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final wondering what could have been.

Lamoriello feels that, for the most part, the Islanders have the pieces to contend for a championship.

“That’s men playing [in the final],” said Lamoriello. “You need men when it gets to this time of the year and I’ll take men any day of the week.”

Those “men” on the Islanders include core players like Captain Anders Lee, Mat Barzal, Brock Nelson, Bo Horvat, JG Pageau, Kyle Palmieri, Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Noah Dobson and Ilya Sorokin.

Lamoriello believes that most of the pieces are in place.

“Our goal is to be where [Florida and Vegas] are,” said Lamoriello. “Our ownership has given us every resource and every possible thing that we need to do it. It’s on us to do that.  We have to get better.  I have to get better.  Our coaching staff has to get better. Our players have to get better.”

One veteran player who will not likely get the opportunity to make another postseason run with the Islanders is forward Josh Bailey, an Islander since he was selected in the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft. He has one year left on his contact, but Bailey was frequently a healthy scratch last season including all six playoff games.

On exit interview day, Bailey said he still wanted to play but didn’t want to be a constant healthy scratch.

That likely means that the longest-tenured Islander will either be traded or bought out.

“Loyalty will never get in the way of impeding progress or making whatever decisions I have the responsibility to make,” said Lamoriello. “Never. In Josh’s case, it looks like maybe it’s near the end for here and our situation. We will work with him to help him, but my priority is doing what’s best for the team.”

And it’s a team that Lamoriello, much to the chagrin of Islanders fans, really likes, especially the veteran group that has been together for a while and enjoyed some playoff success.

Listening to Lamoriello on Tuesday, it sure sounds like he is ready, with a little bit of roster tinkering, to run it back and give it another go in 2023-24.

“Right now, I believe in this core,” said Lamoriello. “I believe in this group and I would hope that they believe in each other the way I think they do and it’s our job to get it done.”

Lou Lamoriello believes.

He hopes the players still believe.

But many of the fans can’t beLIeve what’s going on.

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