NEW YORK — The win on Thursday night quelled the growing frustration among Islanders fans, for now, but leading up to the shutout win over the New York Rangers the feeling was palpable.
The Islanders had just come off two bad losses at home, including a 4-1 defeat at the hands of a division rival, and the anger started to boil over into action. Enter a group of fans that decided they’d try to raise money through a GoFundMe page to place a billboard sign near the Barclays to call for the firing of longtime general manager Garth Snow.
“A few of us from Isles Twitter started throwing ideas around,” said Chris Howard, a lifelong fan and one of the people who organized the idea. “We found a billboard near the Barclays for a decent price. 2 hours later we had raised enough money on GoFundMe to follow through on our idea.”
A day later they had raised enough money for a second billboard with plans to send any extra money to charity. By the time they closed the GoFundMe page on Thursday afternoon they had raised $5,980.
Frustration among Islanders fans has been growing recently as the team had continued to struggle and cries for Snow’s firing have grown louder since recent interviews with Newsday and the Athletic. During Tuesday’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a loud chant of “Snow Must Go!” could be heard in the third period as well as after earlier in the game when Columbus had scored.
Howard had expected they’d hit their original goal of $2,725 in a few days, not a few hours.
“We were pleasantly surprised that we surpassed our goal in just a few hours. That was amazing to see,” said Howard, who declined to name the other people involved in the billboard.
The story gained traction on Wednesday night as several national outlets picked up the story, but it took on a greater spotlight Thursday morning. Organizers of the billboard had originally planned to donate the excess money to Anders Lee’s Kancer Jam, but once Lee caught wind of the situation he put out a statement saying that he wouldn’t accept the money from “a movement I do not agree with.”
The group has since changed their plans with donations of the extra funds being directed towards the American Cancer Society and stopped accepting donations on Thursday afternoon. They wrote on the page:
We recently received word via Twitter that Anders Lee will be declining any donation toward his Kancer Jam. While we are disappointed, we respect his decision, and love Anders as a New York Islander.
Without a choice in the matter, we have therefore decided to donate any excess donations to the American Cancer Society. While we understand this was not the initial advertised charity, we hope Islanders fans will understand.
The story picked up further traction with the New York Post and New York Daily News picking up the story after Lee’s tweet.
The Billboard idea is far from original. New York Jets fans did the same thing back in 2014 when they purchased three billboards calling for the firing of then-general manager John Idzik. Still, Howard isn’t looking for creativity points.
He is simply hoping to be heard.
“I love this team and I have for a while now so when things aren’t going well I want to be heard,” he said. “And judging by the response we’ve gotten, so do Islanders fans.”