We Want Fish Sticks: The Bizarre and Infamous Rebranding of the New York Islanders

Univ. of Nebraska. Dec. 2018. 312p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781496206534. $29.95. SPORTS
The New York Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups between 1980 and 1983. Just over a decade later, in 1995, the franchise was struggling and embarked on what turned out to be perhaps the most disastrous and infamous rebranding effort in sports history. Former New York journalist and current professor of communications, Hirshon (William Paterson Univ.) provides the fascinating behind-the-scenes account of how an attempt to rejuvenate a small-market team failed owing to "poor planning, penny-pinching, miscommunication, and misfortune." Using extensive sources and oral history interviews, Hirshon entertainingly takes readers through 28 humiliating months in which the Islanders, despite a new mascot, logo, uniforms, coach, owner, and a rotating cast of new players, finished in last place for three consecutive years and became the laughingstock of the National Hockey League. The mascot got beat up in the stands, the logo resembled the Gorton's fisherman (leading opposing fans to the title taunt), the coach was an ineffective morale-diminishing embarrassment, and the prospective owner turned out to be a con artist.
VERDICT In addition to being an enjoyable read for sports fans, this is also a cautionary tale for readers interested in marketing and branding.—Brian Sullivan, Alfred Univ. Lib., NY
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