Thursday, May 10, 2012

NHL Booster Clubs: A Dying Breed

Last night the NYIBC held a dinner meeting at Borelli's in Uniondale.  A 40th Anniversary is a special occasion and it was a special night.  Members filled the entire back room of the local family eatery where everyone feels like family -- especially if you're in anything with an Islanders' logo.

Long before the Internet, message boards and Twitter there were NHL Booster Clubs.  They served a valuable purpose for the teams as well as the local community.  But in today's world of Social Media being run by the League and the teams themselves, the role of the Booster Club has taken a backseat; and that's pretty sad.

Only two Booster Clubs still have a close working relationship with their NHL clubs: one of which is the Islanders.  Certainly some things have changed over the years, but the bonds are still there.  The best evidence is their guest list for meetings.

Garth Snow has been a guest many times and never shys away from answering "the tough questions."  But the easy atmosphere of these meetings leads to a lot more than just a simple Q&A session, it leads to tangents and stories you'll never read about and a real exchange of ideas. 

While other NHL clubs may shy away from letting a star player, coach or general manager spend an hour and a half answering questions one-on-one, Ann Rina, the Islanders Community Relations Director, carefully coordinates schedules and requests to make each meeting of the NYIBC a very special and enlightening experience.

Over the years the NYIBC has endured criticism from outsiders.  It's unfair considering the amount of great work they do for the community and for charity.  This is NOT just a "I wear my hockey helmet all day long" club.  These are normal people of every age and walk of life who share a common ground in their love of hockey and the Islanders.

They also share a common goal of helping those who need it.  Monthly collections could range from books, to sneakers to laundry detergent and canned goods.   There is always some good cause benefiting from their willingness to give in the name of the NY Islanders.

They will have a table at the Draft Party at the Coliseum.  The membership fee is small for the amount of one-on-one time you get with the team.  While message boards and social networks are great places to connect with other fans, there really isn't anything like the old way of actually BEING there.

For more information about joining you can email and check  out their website:
Side note: I had the pleasure of sitting with an old friend of Mr. Snow's. Because the world is the size of a walnut, Bobby, who has known Garth since his days at the University of Maine, started telling me stories about a very young -- John Tortorella. While I can't go into details (as that would be rude since this was a social conversation), I'll just say that Torts developed that caustic, arrogant personality of his at a very young age. But then I did tell Bobby 'leopards don't change their spots.' Last night, during the Rangers' post (loss) game presser, Torts' true personality once again came through. And now that I know what he was like as a teen -- I see nothing's changed. As Bobby said 'He's the perfect coach for the Rangers.' and I agreed. ;o) (I also heard that one prominent NHLer who played for UMaine was so cheap 'he threw quarters around like they were manhole covers.' That book in my head just keeps getting better.)

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