For a book that was originally released seven years ago, Peter Botte’s and Alan Hahn’s “Fish Sticks: The Fall and Rise of the New York Islanders” is still an immensely enjoyable read that will not only serve as a blast from the past for most hardcore fans of the franchise, but for hockey fans in general who remember just how bad the team was in the ‘90s.
For instance, a huge portion of the book is dedicated to defining and breaking down the internal struggle between Isles ownership and its players. Countless stories are told by Botte and Hahn recounting how fed up the players were of the organization and it’s cost cutting schemes.
One story told in the book describes how former Isles sniper Zigmund Palffy was fed up of staying in shoddy hotels and flying in coach during one of the teams losing seasons, while the rest of the league stayed in five-star hotels and flew in private jets. Going on a screaming fit, in barely recognizable English, Palffy was hilarious and made two things painfully clear. The enigmatic scorer was sick of the Islanders and tired of the Comfort Inn.
However, throughout all of the hilarious stories that any hockey or sports fan can appreciate, Botte and Hahn tell the story of former Islanders GM Mike Milbury. Starting from his childhood to the Islanders return to the playoffs, it’s a wonder Milbury hasn’t dropped dead of chronic ulcers.
From the infamous shoe-beating incident in MSG [Milbury, during his playing days with the Boston Bruins, went into the crowd after a game with the Rangers and beat a fan with their own shoe] to the time when he accused former Islander defenseman Eric Brewer of “sniffing glue” on the ice, Milbury is an amazing personality who’s presence alone in the book makes it a must read. Some may disagree with how Botte and Hahn paint Milbury, as the last “real” Islander, but will feel his happiness and pain through the book with every nixed trade and naysayer squashed.
Nevertheless, the tale of how the Islanders were able to escape the trenches of the NHL and make it back to the playoffs after eight long, agonizing years is a wild and fun ride, told by arguably two of the team’s all-time best beat reporters. Islander fans will completely eat this one up, while Ranger fan and the rest of the NHL fan base won’t believe what they’re reading. Sometimes feeling more like an episode of “Days of our Lives,” than a tale of a small-market hockey club struggling to survive, “Fish Sticks: The Fall and Rise of the New York Islanders” is a must read that will keep you reading to the last word.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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