Throughout the history of the National Hockey League only 357 players have ever reached the 1,000-game milestone. Only 35 of those players have reached that prestigious honor with the same franchise.
Prior to the start of the 2022-23 NHL season, Josh Bailey told NYI Hockey Now that he was ready for the day to come.
“I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time, I think there’s a part of me that’s like, alright, let’s do this [and] move on. But it’ll be cool. It’ll be a special night.”
The milestone night was scheduled for Oct. 26 against the New York Rangers, but Josh Bailey found himself as a healthy scratch last Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which postponed his 1,00th game by a day.
It’s only fitting that Josh Bailey scored a crucial ago against the New York Islander rival on the ‘supposed to be’ milestone night, which gave his team a critical 2-0 lead, an eventual 3-0 victory.
HEYYYYYY JOSH BAILEY pic.twitter.com/7Tzg5oM90A
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 27, 2022
From long-time teammates to newer teammates, from older players to younger players, Josh Bailey has been a constant voice in the locker room, a calm voice, and a great teammate.
“It’s something special for him and for his family,” teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “I can’t really remember how many guys played 1,000 game for the same team. And that’s…it’s extraordinary. And to be his teammate, I feel lucky. He’s a great leader in the room and on the ice, you just see his commitment, his attitude in the gym. All the extras that he’s done to play 1,000 games just shows how great of a pro he is.”
“And I think you go around the room, everyone was willing to do the same thing. He’s a great pro and a great friend to everyone.”
Drafted ninth overall back in the 2008 NHL Draft, Josh Bailey is currently the longest-tenured New York Islander. He’s been a member of the New York Islanders since he was just 21 years old as he made his NHL debut on Nov. 11, 2011, against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Through 999 games, Bailey has scored 177 goals with 379 assists which is good for 556 points. Twenty-two of his 177 goals have served as game-winners.
“I’m going to look up to him for years to come, even if he’s not playing,” 22-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom told Corey Wright of New York Islanders Dot Com. “He’s a pretty special dude, and just it’s just the way he is. He has a good vibe to him and he’s just so caring. It’s fun to be around.”
The 33-year-old Toronto native has never been a star on the ice but has been one of those key pieces for the New York Islanders, a player that, more often than not, has done his job, especially in big moments.
“It’s incredible, actually…He’s meant so much to the organization for so many years,” New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “And you know, in terms of the player that he is, he’s a cerebral player. He’s a smart player. You can trust him. You can count on him defensively, and you know, he provides offense as well.”
“So, I mean, a lot of the things that he does, you know, aren’t noticed as much as maybe us coaches notice them, but a very valuable guy from that standpoint.”
Former New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz shared many times during his four-year tenure as the bench boss that Josh Bailey is one of the most intelligent players he has ever coached.
Bailey’s played hero more times than people remember.
Although not counting towards the 1,000-game milestone,He scored the overtime goal to take Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the double overtime goal against those same Penguins in the first round of 2021.
Despite Josh Bailey’s success, a percentage of the New York Islanders fan base has been displeased with his game over the years. He’s never scored more than 18 goals, with just one season with more than 70 points. And he’s coming off a tough season.
Regardless of Josh Bailey has struggled at times throughout his career in blue and orange, he’s been through it all with the fan base. From the nightmare years to the turnaround of the franchise.
He’s been a leader and mentor in the New York Islanders locker room, a pillar in the community, and again while times are tough, he never showed any signs of wanting to jump ship.
“Him and I became friends quickly when I got here. We’ve remained friends throughout. You know, he has gotten some hate. And I don’t really understand why,” teammate Cal Clutterbuck told NYI Hockey Now. “I think if you really watch him play the game, and you watch the amount of big plays and big moments he’s had for us along the way, I don’t know how that’s justified.”
“But…it doesn’t affect him. I know that, which is pretty impressive. Just the way that he’s been able to stay with one team and be committed to this area, this team, this franchise in an era where it’s very difficult for guys to stay in one place, you got to stay relevant. You got to stay important. You got to be a good teammate. You got to be a good guy, and he’s all of those things.”
New York Islanders captain Anders Lee has had Josh Bailey as a teammate and as a leader since he broke into the NHL back in 2012. He understands how underrated Bailey has been over his career.
“He’s always finding the open guy and making the smart play, and a lot of his skill is undercover,” Anders Lee told Cory Wright. “And I don’t think it gets enough appreciation at times.”
Now to the Josh Bailey chant (to the tune of DJ Ötzi’s, “Hey Baby”)
“Hey, Josh Bailey (Ooo. Ahhhh). I wanna know if you’ll score a goal.”
What started as a taunt after Bailey went 24 games without a goal to open up his NHL career eventually turned into a love song. It may have taken a handful of years before Bailey earned the approval of the fan base, but eventually, the Josh Bailey song was sung by the Nassau Coliseum crowd, the Barclays Center crowd, and now the UBS Arena Crowd after every goal from no. 12.
It was a chant started by the Blue and Orange Army, a group of die-hard Islanders fans that have been leading chants at games for years.
The most famous moment and the benchmark moment for Josh Bailey and his goal song came directly after his overtime winner against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019 at Nassau Coliseum.
It was one of the first times, if not the first time that the entire arena chanted the song. If you were in the building for that game, it’s a memory that you will never forget. And if you were watching at home, you could feel that raw emotion through the television screen.
“It’s not that often you get a song, you know, dedicated to you personally,” Clutterbuck told NYI Hockey Now. “So I love it. It’s a fitting thing. Like I said, he’s just been representing this franchise forever in a positive way.”
“And, you know, it’s only fitting that he’s the one who’s got his own song.”
Josh Bailey told NYI Hockey Now how he feels when he hears that chant now.
“It’s great. I mean, usually, it’s after a goal, [so] t’s usually a good feeling,” Bailey said jokingly. “But even throughout the game, I’ll never forget it. In the playoffs, especially at the Coliseum, hearing it, it was something special for sure.”
“And [I’m] very appreciative of all the support.”
Josh Bailey, who has three little kids, shared that it’s a common sing-along around the Bailey household.
“Yeah, they were [singing it] from a young age. It’s kind of caught on there. And then I hear from their friends sometimes, and it’s all in good fun. I appreciate it.”
When the puck drops on Friday, Josh Bailey will become just one of three New York Islanders to reach the 1,000-game milestone, joining Hall of Famers Denis Potvin (1,060) and Bryan Trottier (1,123).
— “Straight Edge Travis from Myspace” (@_travismcgee) October 27, 2022