When former 67 and present Islander 67 Zenon Konopka saw TSN broadcasters Gord Wilson and Pierre McGuire sitting in the stands watching Thursday’s morning skate, he knew he had found his rallying point.
Don’t call us doormats, Konopka shouted at the TSN hosts. Call us a “young, hard-working team.”
After the skate, Konopka said he was tired of hearing TSN apply the label to the Islanders, though he understood where it came from.
The last few years around here haven’t been very good and this season also started poorly, suffering through six- and eight-game losing streaks.
But recently the team’s play has improved, and going into Thursday’s game, they were 8-3-2 in their last 13.
“I understand where the stereotype comes from,” said Konopka.
“When we were struggling the way we did in November, it’s that way.
“But right now we’re a different team, a different club, and we’re working for each other.”
Tavares also took exception to TSN’s characterization.
“No one likes being called a doormat,” he said.
“We’ve done some really good things this year. We’ve beaten good teams. We’ve been able to hold some good players in check, and we’ve had our own success at many different stages.
“I don’t think we’re an easy team to play against. We can’t really let those (TSN comments) get into our heads. We just have to go out and prove we’re a very good team and we’re a hard team to play against.”