Josh Bailey officially bid farewell to Long Island on Wednesday morning in a letter posted on The Player’s Tribune after spending the entirety of his NHL career thus far playing for the New York Islanders.
“I want to thank not just this great fan base, but the people of Long Island as a whole,” Bailey wrote. “This place is special. From the outside, I think a lot of people would agree. What’s not to love? But what really makes this place unique is the people. All of you. That’s why Long Island will always be home for me and my family.”
Drafted ninth overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Bailey played 1,057 games for the Islanders, the third-most of any player in team history.
Throughout his tenure with the Islanders, Bailey was a controversial player as he never quite lived up to the potential expected of him when he was drafted. However, Bailey did grow into a core figure for the organization. As a team leader, Bailey’s presence was central to the Islanders’s rise back to relevancy in recent years.
“Not always the smoothest of rides, but I wouldn’t change a thing,” Bailey wrote. “The tough times make you stronger and allow you to enjoy the good ones that much more, and we had plenty of good ones.”
During his final season with the Islanders last year, Bailey saw his playing time shrink as he appeared in just 64 games. At season’s end, Bailey’s frustration became apparent, and so did the fact his time with the team was coming to a close.
On June 29, the Islanders traded Bailey to the Chicago Blackhawks, officially ending his 15-year run with the team. The Blackhawks quickly bought Bailey out of the final year of his contract, and he remains an unrestricted free agent as teams begin training camp in preparation for the upcoming year.
Bailey, 33, expressed during his final media availability that he still believes he can play a consistent role in an NHL lineup. At this point, though, it’s more than likely he will have to settle for a professional tryout contract and earn a spot with a team.
The Islanders will open their 2023-24 rookie development camp starting tomorrow before beginning training camp next week.