If you happen to’re a New York Islanders fan, likelihood is you’ve got seen his indicators on TV or up towards the glass throughout video games. His indicators have develop into beacons of hope throughout Islanders video games, contributing to the fanbase’s fierce tradition of positivity and resilience in the case of supporting their staff. There are far and few folks as sort, sensible, and humble as Islanders tremendous fan, Patrick Dowd, the person often known as ‘Signal Man,’ whose unwavering religion in his staff is contagious and spans many years and generations. This week I had the prospect to talk with Dowd about his well-known indicators, the place all of it started, and the way he continues to dedicate himself to the higher good of the Islanders fanbase.
A Lifelong Islanders Fan
It could sound stunning to followers, Dowd included, that he truly was a New York Rangers fan for a time in his life. Nevertheless, that point was short-lived and solely till he was 12 years previous, in 1972, when the Islanders got here to city as the most recent NHL staff.
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“There was no Islanders earlier than the Nineteen Seventies, so I used to be a New York Rangers fan by default. As soon as the Islanders existed, they have been my staff. I took a variety of ridicule in center college about that however nonetheless, I turned an Islanders fan at 12-years-old and I used to be on the first ever Islander sport,” Dowd recollects. We are able to undoubtedly forgive Dowd for these few years as a Rangers fan as a result of he has made up for it tenfold, “I’ve been there for the entire Islanders’ journey: the primary sport again on October 7, 1972, 4 Stanley Cups, seasons of mediocrity and possession points.”
As Dowd describes rising up on Lengthy Island and alongside the Islanders throughout their glory years (and not-so-glorious years too,) it’s arduous to not develop into emotional over how particular the fanbase on Lengthy Island is.
“We’re a household. Actuality is those that play for the Islanders make Lengthy Island their residence. It was the small youngsters from Lengthy Island dealing with the large youngsters from town when the Islanders got here to city and obtained some recognition. It was superb to run into gamers whereas working as a server at a neighborhood restaurant and see somebody like Mike Bossy. He’s a legend and he’s proper in my neighborhood. You’re not ever simply acknowledged by different followers as followers however as members of the family.”
Each fandom has passionate followers, that’s nearly a given. Nevertheless, when talking to Dowd it’s clear there’s a tradition on Lengthy Island that not solely permits followers to unite for his or her staff however for one thing greater than hockey and sports activities basically.
Islanders Unstated Slogan: ‘At all times Consider’
A transparent instance of how Islanders followers stand robust and united for his or her staff and their neighborhood is embodied in Dowd’s well-known indicators. Dowd started making indicators through the 1994-95 NHL strike season after a humorous and poignant dialog along with his 8-year-old daughter McKenzie, on the time. “My daughter Mackenzie, like most curious 8-year-olds, would ask questions like ‘Why are we not going to Islanders video games?’ I needed to clarify why there’s a distinction in opinion about possession, what gamers ought to receives a commission, how sophisticated it’s, and so forth. She replied, ‘However you play open hockey without cost, why not inform the proprietor you’d play without cost?’” recollects Dowd. So, that’s precisely what Dowd and his daughter created for his or her first signal at one of many solely American Hockey League (AHL) Bridgeport video games performed on the Coliseum that yr.
It’s been historical past ever since for Dowd and his daughter as they’ve been making indicators for nearly thirty years, their message nonetheless the identical: positivity
“I’ve a basement right here. All of the indicators should be optimistic, hopeful, concerning the gamers, and a bit of enjoyable mocking concerning the opponent. I take advantage of a particular foam board with a life lengthy endurance till it’s framed. I’ve a pair optimistic indicators like ‘At all times Consider’. Lots of people don’t notice how impactful these two phrases are. Exterior of sports activities, this signal is about having religion, hope, calm mindset inside your self. The tide could be excessive however to swim towards it. The mountain could also be excessive however to climb it. The battle could be fierce however I’ll succeed. It’s this actual optimistic vibe that resonates with robust phrases of positivity.”
Clever past his years, Dowd has a knack for each comedian and inspirational timing in the case of his indicators. For instance, when enjoying Lengthy Island’s rivalry, Dowd may create his “If you already know the Rangers…” signal or give you a witty signal for one more opponent, similar to “Capital Punishment Time,” when the Washington Capitals come to city. Nevertheless, most notably, Dowd is holding up his “At all times Consider,” signal at nearly each residence sport, capturing the resilience and religion Islanders’ followers are identified for.
On Having Hope for Islanders’ Future
Lastly, Dowd and I shared some nice laughs about what it means to be a hockey fan, particularly an Islanders fan. When discussing his iconic indicators and optimistic mindset, Dowd presents some knowledge as the Lengthy Island fanbase heads into one other essential season.
“Sports activities are attention-grabbing. It’s important to have the true good data if the staff is gonna win or lose and it may occur in any manner. So, why not imagine till the very finish? You by no means know. What number of instances have you ever seen previously similar to when the Islanders beat the Rangers in 1975 or a dramatic additional time purpose in 2021? You simply at all times should imagine as a result of it’s vital for the tradition of the fanbase and the staff. Any individual wins and anyone loses and the underside line is to get pleasure from your self at the moment.”
In the case of the way forward for the Islanders group and its fandom, Dowd is nothing however excited, emphasizing his religion within the new possession, UBS area, and new generations of Islander followers. “My daughter Logan is now a season ticket holder. To go that torch right down to her, to be as fierce as most followers, it’s unbelievable. We’re a sign-making duo. The subsequent technology is catching onto the optimistic vibes of the brand new area, this season, the probabilities of successful a Stanley Cup, and a terrific goalie.” The magic of Dowd and his indicators is he encourages Islanders followers to have hope concerning the brighter days forward for this staff and themselves in their very own lives. On this sense, he captures the Islanders’ spirit of fandom, household, and hope, regardless of the rating or prior season.