Is it time to retire the “Potvin Sucks” chant from the Islanders-Rangers rivalry?

Rob Taub

For the last 42 years, there’s been a chant that has brought together and divided Islanders and Rangers fans — “Potvin Sucks”. Generations of supporters on both sides have heard that chant rang through Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Barclays Center and the Coliseum again.

There’s always been a hot debate even for decades later about the play that started the iconic saying, which was Isles Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin taking out Blueshirts forward Ulf Nilsson’s knee. But as the years continue to pass by, many fans on both sides — more so from the Rangers — think the chant has lived past its due date.

And now with the two teams having played three times in this COVID-stricken season without either sides fans in the building, has the time come to put the chant to bed.

Blueshirts fans have used the chant at home games even when they aren’t playing the Islanders, which some don’t find necessary. Adam Bernstein, who goes by @bizzarospeak on Twitter, said “Yes, it’s completely overused. It needs to be saved only for Rangers-Islanders games only, maybe like twice a game.”

Jerry Silver, a longtime fan of the Rangers said he hates the chant and that, “Nothing would annoy me more then being in the Garden during a tight game in the 3rd and this stupid chant pops up.” Ryan Paulsen, an Isles fan but with several friends who root for the Rangers, said “As my Ranger season-ticket owning work friends regularly says “Anyone who tries to suggest anything other than the fact that the last thing that Denis Potvin did was ‘suck,’ knows absolutely nothing about the game of hockey.”

Islanders fans have a bit of a difference take.

Alex Lupo (alupo8897 on Twitter) commented by saying, “At this point they are just keeping the legend of Denis Potvin alive which is nice.” Michal Anderson, who is a fellow Islanders blogger, feels the chant should keep going.

“It’s the sign of a true rivalry that decades later they still hate the guy,” he tweeted.

A few other Isles fans find the war cry amusing to still hear. From Vincent Parricone (@VPerricone92), “As an Isles fan it’s funny to me that this fan base would want to continuously bring up a player that had more cups than their entire franchise through essentially 10 seasons. But that’s just me!” And this from Alec Rubenstein (alec_rubenstein), “Nah, Rangers chanting Potvin Sucks just means we will always own real estate in their minds.”

Another Isles supporter had a rational take on the current state of the chant. “When the fan base is transitioning to a group of people who weren’t around for when Potvin played, then yes it should,” said Sammy Smith on Twitter.

Both parties have strong arguments. As for me, I feel this season should be the chants’ last hurrah.

The Islanders are going to be moving into a new building for next season (UBS Arena) and my feeling is that the slogan won’t have the same luster as its had when the two teams have met at the Coliseum over the last number of decades. Even when fans from both sides are back — and there will be both in Nassau Coliseum later this season when the two teams faceoff now that arenas in the area are allowed 10% capacity — the atmosphere still won’t be what it was, neither will the chant.

The “Potvin Sucks” argument still invokes great emotion from those who were a part of it and those who witnessed it and the aftermath that came from it. A lot of those same people have admitted it was a clean hit, but that it’s the chant which makes the rivalry between the Isles and Rangers still special.

The question remains though when the unique chant will finally reach its demise.

Is it time for the “Potvin Sucks” chant to be retired?