The New York Islanders are going to win the 2022 Stanley Cup.
"Please God, no," wrote reader "Hockey Island," whose Twitter profile includes an image of the team's previous four championship banners from the 1980s.
People like Mr. Island understand that my predicting the Stanley Cup winner is usually the kiss of death to their championship aspirations. I declared the Toronto Maple Leafs would win the Cup last season, and that toxic smooch resulted in their captain, John Tavares, being felled by an errant knee cap in Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs blowing (another) 3-1 lead and getting eliminated in the first round for the fifth straight season.
"Don't do it Greg. Please."
I'm sorry. The bell that has been rung cannot be unrung. I believe the Islanders are going to win the Stanley Cup, and all that it entails.
"Do I agree with you that they're going to win the Cup? I'm not so sure," said Ken Daneyko, a defenseman who played 20 years in the NHL. "But you're not the only one. And why not? Maybe they take the next step."
I called Daneyko to bounce a theory off him. The more I looked at the 2021-22 New York Islanders, the more I thought about another team that general manager Lou Lamoriello constructed: the 1995 New Jersey Devils, a team on which Daneyko played.
Scourge of offensive hockey. Meticulously cobbled from homegrown talents and acquired veterans in the image of its GM. Above all else, a Stanley Cup champion.
Like the Devils before 1995, the Islanders have been on the cusp of greatness, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in consecutive conference finals. Last season, the margin between an appearance in the Cup Final and elimination was a Yanni Gourde shorthanded goal in Game 7, which is a "Paul Sorvino slicing garlic in prison during 'Goodfellas' thin" margin.
"They haven't quite had enough offensive talent to get them over the top. But he believes that you stick to the philosophy," Daneyko said. "Look, this team lost 1-0 in Tampa Bay in Game 7 of their series. They got outplayed in the series, but they almost damn well won."