“Bailey and Haley” may sound like two front men in an 80s hair band or the title of a new medical drama premiering this fall, but in reality, they’re just two pro hockey players who enjoy giving back to their community.
Islanders forwards Josh Bailey
and Micheal Haley
spent the past week on Long Island attending day camps, playing street hockey and signing autographs for hundreds of fans. For this young Islanders team, interacting with children and community members is very important.
“Our team does a great job and is very willing to help out in the community,” Bailey said. “I think it pays dividends. The fans are good to us, so it’s always nice to give back.”
This latest week of community events is part of the Islanders Community Events (I.C.E.) Tour, which brings an interactive NHL theme park to local schools and camps.
The two Ontario, Canada natives began their week Monday morning at the Young’s People Day Camp on the New York Institute of Technology campus in Central Islip. Islanders staffers set up giant inflatable games including a moon bounce, an obstacle course and a street hockey game for the campers play on. What made the day extra special for the kids though, was the time spent with a couple Islanders players.
“Obviously the kids are having a blast,” Haley said. “The fans have been great to us, so we need to give back. Not only that, the Islanders set up all of these jumpy castles and the kids seem to really enjoy them. I think it’s been a great day.”
After signing a few dozen autographs, Bailey and Haley made their way into the gymnasium to take part in a street hockey game with campers. The children were divided into two teams as the two Islanders squared off against each other as team captains.
The game proved to be a back-and-forth affair featuring some nifty maneuvers by the professionals and campers alike. Both Bailey and Haley got in the scoring column, but for them it was all about the kids having fun.
“You don’t play hockey to lose. Even in a summer camp I wanted to beat Hales,” Bailey said. “But we were just having fun and trying to make it fun for the kids. That’s why we come here and that’s what it’s all about. I think they had a good time and that’s the important thing.”
The two Islanders spent the rest of the morning signing hundreds of autographs and played a second street hockey game with a different group of campers.
Bailey and Haley were just getting warmed up with autograph signings. On Tuesday, the two appeared at the Islanders Team Store at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa. They were scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. arrival, but fans started lining up at 3:00.
The line of fans snaked around the mall’s corner. Witnessing that outpouring of support was a tremendous feeling for Bailey and Haley.
“It’s amazing to get such great fan support, especially after just a short time playing here last year,” Haley said. “It means a lot and shows how loyal the fans are and how much they follow us. So for me it was great to see all the Haley stuff here today.”
Bailey added, “We have a lot of people here that care here. Since I was a kid I’d see guys signing autographs and I always thought how cool it would be to be that guy. I enjoy every minute of it.”
Fans brought a variety of Islanders gear to have signed by Bailey and Haley, but they also brought a lot of encouragement for the upcoming season. The two Islanders were also pleased to see how many people came out to get their signatures.
“I’ve done a few of these team store signings over the years and this is probably the most amount of people we’ve ever had,” Bailey said. “I think that’s encouraging and exciting.”
The Islanders duo concluded their trip on the I.C.E. Tour Wednesday with a trip to the Ivy League Day Camp in Smithtown. They started their day a bit differently than the traditional summer camp visit. They read a book to 80 campers in support of the TD Bank Summer Reading Program, which offers kids the opportunity to receive $10 for every 10 books they read.
Before they began reading, Bailey had an important message for the children.
“Reading is very important,” he said. ‘It’s something we do in everyday life. I still like to read, whether it’s on the plane or at home.”
The two read a story from the Brady Brady series, a children’s book about hockey. After the reading, Bailey and Haley played street hockey with the campers and signed autographs. The experience was another rewarding one for both Bailey and Haley.
“Obviously reading is a huge part of everyone’s lives,” Haley said. “I think that’s a great program that TD Bank does.”
Spending time with children from across Long Island this week created memories that will last a lifetime for Bailey and Haley. And in the years to come maybe those memories will have a lasting impact for all of the kids they’ve met.