Josh Bailey has had a lot of haters over the years.
We’re not going to name them by name, even though you probably know who they are. As of right now, they are all probably eating their words.
And why not? Bailey, who is the longest-tenured member of the organization (12 years), has been a revelation in the postseason for the Islanders. Maybe even their best forward not named Anthony Beauvillier or J.G. Pageau.
Bailey leads the team with 15 points. He’s had four multi-point games and is a +9 overall through 14 games in the bubble (h/t to Isles on MSG for that one). But beyond the stat sheet, he’s earned his due for being one of the true leaders of this Islander squad.
“For me, it’s not even just this postseason,” Anders Lee said before game five yesterday. “It’s always something Josh has had and someone I lean on all the time. He’s been around and has seen a lot… Bails is someone we all look up to.”
That’s quite the quote from Lee, who is the one who wears the “C” on his chest. He’s not wrong though.
Bailey has been through it all with this organization and never once has he wavered in his loyalty, never bitched about his spot with the team, or thought about leaving. He’s just gone about his business and continued to get better with each passing year. If anyone has deserved the success the Isles have had so far the past two years, it’s most certainly him.
“With Bails, it’s all IQ,” head coach Barry Trotz has said in the past while praising Bailey. “He’s a cerebral player. He makes really intelligent reads and they’ll be some things, they’re more subtle. You’ve got to watch him closely. If you’re just looking for the wow factor, you probably don’t see that in Josh. What you do see is all the subtleties and sort of the thinking man’s player.”
Those words have never rung truer than what Bailey has done in the Toronto bubble.
Just for show, how about his heads up pass on Brock Nelson’s goal to get to start another comeback yesterday? His unreal feed to Beauvillier in the clincher against the Washington Capitals last round? His apple on the game-winning goal in the Isles’s game four win?
Bailey to Nelson. Beautiful. pic.twitter.com/WqEOW5Ufqt
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) August 31, 2020
The Islanders are one win away from their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 27 years. Bailey, has played an instrumental part in it. And who knows, if the Isles do somehow end up lifting Lord Stanley, does that ensure his number going to the rafters once he retires?
That’s something to think about. For right now though, Bailey is finally getting the credit he has rightfully deserved.
“He makes a lot of little plays, underrated plays, and it’s easy to kind of read off him,” said Nelson.
Josh Bailey has gone from longest-tenured Islander to most-hated Islander not too long ago, to now one of the best, most-beloved Islanders.
Give credit where credit is due. He’s earned it and without a doubt deserves it.