Think back to when you were a child. There was a moment for almost every one of us, whether it was in a green field, on a frozen lake, or in a stuffy gym when the dream died. The dream that we would grow up to be a professional athlete. For me, it must have happened around age 7 or 8. I realized that despite my parents' urgings, I couldn't be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. Sure, I could be successful, happy, maybe even wealthy someday, but I wasn't going to bat for the Mets or score 69 goals in a season for the Islanders. I just wasn't athletic enough and there was nothing that could change that. At least I realized it at an early enough age as to not waste thousands of my parents' dollars and hours clinging to false hope. I pursued other avenues of opportunity.
That feeling washed over me again on Saturday night as I sat on my couch watching the Isles go down to defeat in Philadelphia. Despite what the players say, the coach insists, or we fans wish for, the 2007-2008 playoff dream is dead. Pick a reason -- too many points left on the ice. Not enough scoring. Superior competition. Too many injuries. Et cetera, et cetera.
While they gave us an outstanding effort at times, it's time to close the book on this Islanders hockey season. If (General Manager) Garth Snow really is a builder, the 2008 offseason will be his time to shine. All is not lost. The "kid line" has played well. Comrie and Guerin will be back. Kyle Okposo (who scored on Saturday night in his game) is on the way. Jon Sim will be healthy. And the defensive corps should remain mostly intact.
The Isles are staring at a deep draft. They have a boatload of picks and could realistically finish in the bottom five of the league, giving them a shot at winning the Steve Stamkos lottery. But even if they don't win him this summer the consolation prizes are pretty good too, from what we read.
Go ahead. Enjoy the last 12 games. Root your heart out for the Islanders against the Rangers. Enjoy March Madness. Enjoy the NHL playoffs if you so choose. Just don't delude yourself into thinking the Isles will be there. The dream is dead.