When the New York Islanders are looking into the Toronto sky they could be in for a big surprise.
One Islanders fan has raised over $3,000 to pay for a plane to fly over the Toronto bubble with a simple message for the team: “Let’s Go Islanders.” Matthew Kammerer, a longtime fan from East Meadow, NY, wanted to put a more personal touch on his support for the Islanders while they competed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It just came to me that I wish there was a way to show support to these guys outside of (social media),” Kammerer explained in a phone interview with NYI Hockey Now. “I said, I wonder if I can do something physical where instead of looking down at their phones on the way back from morning skate. Instead, they look up in the sky and they see something that really pumps them up.
“Then basically it just took off.”
The die-hard Islanders fan turned to fellow fans looking for donations to help pull the idea off. He created a Go Fund Me page on Wednesday, more concerned about what would happen if he didn’t reach his goal of $3,587.
What happened next shocked Kammerer.
His idea quickly picked up steam on social media and 24 hours after he first started the Go Fund Me he had already reached his goal, and then some. At the time of publication, Kammer had raised $4,317.
Any money over the original goal will go towards extending the flight time of the banner.
“I’m overwhelmed by the response,” Kammerer said. “The Islander fan is a special breed. On the Go Fund Me page, I had had a William Shakespeare quote. … ‘Though he is but small, he is mighty.’ That always reminds me of the Islanders fan base. I like to say we have the highest passion per capita in the National Hockey League. It might not be one of the largest fan bases in the world, but it’s one of the fiercest.”
The effort by the fans hasn’t gone unnoticed by the players up in Toronto either.
The New York Islanders have seen the deluge of support on social media. Part of the NHL’s efforts to make the empty arenas in the hub cities feel more like home has been to put fan messages of support on the video boards inside the building.
The players also have plenty of downtime to see what the fans are doing on social media.
“That’s awesome,” Ryan Pulock said about the banner fans plan to fly over Toronto. “We’ve seen (the support) on social media and stuff. You see videos that people are posting whether it be in their living room cheering or whatnot. We have a pretty special fan base and they let you hear it when we’re doing well. It’s pretty special to have their support and it’s awesome to see everything online.”
Even Islanders coach Barry Trotz has taken notice of the support during the unique circumstances surrounding this year’s postseason. The Islanders bench boss thanked the fans unprompted on Monday during his Zoom call with reporters.
“I know our fans on Long Island have been fantastic sending us a lot of social media stuff,” Trotz said about the support. “We can really get behind that. Our players are looking at that, so just want to thank them for that.”
As for Kammerer, a fan of the New York Islanders since 1993 and a longtime usher at the Nassau Coliseum, he has already been in touch with a company up in Canada to get the puck rolling. Kammer will examine a long-range forecast to select the best day to have the plane fly over Toronto, though he is leaning towards a game day in the Second Round or in the First Round if their series with the Washington Capitals goes beyond four games.
And Kammerer hopes to even get the Islanders involved and have a team social media person capture the banner as it flew overhead, or have it seen on the TV broadcast. “Who knows, maybe it ends up on NBC or something, that would be the ultimate,” he said.
Several teams have had signs of support put up in the hub cities. Most notable is the Montreal Canadiens billboard up in Toronto.
However, Kammerer’s idea isn’t about trolling anyone. It’s simply about supporting his favorite team on their quest for a fifth Stanley Cup.
“The core of this is positivity,” he said. “Supporting the team. Having an outlet for the support that we would normally give that we’re not able to give. It’s something physical that the players can see and maybe get a little juice out of.”