This was supposed to be a post about Jean-Gabriel Pageau. This was supposed to be a relief-filled, overly-happy post about the 2020 “missing piece” possibility. This was supposed to be a tense but uplifting post about how the Isles haven’t lost it yet, that they can still finish the season strong and make a decent showing in the playoffs.
This is no longer going to be about any of that.

J-G Pageau deserves recognition. Welcome to the Island, sir! A goal and a fight in his first game in blue and orange? Plus an immediate contract extension? After only five games with New York, he already has two goals and seventeen penalty minutes. The team’s new center surely made many, many fans very, very happy.

Pageau isn’t even a regularly high-scoring player. His career-high is twenty-six goals (which he has already matched this year), but his average is closer to fifteen. He is a great defensive forward, however. He plays a 200-foot game and has the heart required of the Islanders “identity.” He’s exactly the player Barry Trotz likes, and he should have slipped into the locker room perfectly and filled a hole like the Islanders desperately needed.

And yet the team is still floundering.

When the Islanders acquired Andy Greene, I said it wouldn’t be enough – heck, everyone knew it wouldn’t be enough – but while most still had reluctant hopes that the trade deadline would produce a solution, I had too many doubts to even consider it. I truly didn’t think Lou Lamoriello was going to make any trades at all. Imagine my surprise when he acquired Pageau and made a play for Zach Parise!

Yet the Islanders didn’t give anyone up for Pageau. His price was two all-but definite draft picks and one that will surely never happen, give that it is contingent on the Isles winning the Cup this year. A trade like that is wonderful when you don’t want to give anyone up, but it only half-solves the Islanders’ problem.

Now that Pageau is among the lineup, the Isles simply have yet another scratch. No one turned over. No one new is playing. No one is even playing with new linemates. No one on the team is being challenged to play differently, to play better. Now Leo Komarov simply joins Ross Johnston, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Andrew Ladd in the “always scratched” club.

We can only hope that things will get better when the identity line is reunited. When Casey Cizikas comes back. Or Adam Pelech.

This team needs more than “a kick in the pants” like Trotz was asked in interviews after the Ottawa loss. Maybe it needs Butch to deliver some eggs to the locker room. Apparently, his amazing speech full of advice and encouragement (which you can watch in full here) wasn’t enough to spark new life in the team he loves so much.

Hm, maybe there is a bright side to this post: every time I say the Isles are playing great, they proceed to lose; every time I say they’re terrible, they win at least one game. Is it too much to hope that my cynicism pays off?

Featured Image: Mike Stobe / Getty Images
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