Islanders leave 43 years of history behind at Nassau Coliseum

Eric Fishbin, Copy Editor

Today is the day.  We did not want it to come, nor did we expect it to come, but that does not matter.  Oct. 9, 2015; mark it down.  This is the day that the New York Islanders leave behind their 43 years of history, four Stanley Cups, and 16,170 seats at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, “The Barn,” in Uniondale, Long Island.

As we move to Brooklyn, mixed emotions surely follow us on the train to Jamaica, then to Atlantic Terminal, and ultimately into the futuristic Barclays Center.  Missing the familiar sub-30 minute drive on the Hempstead Turnpike is an understandable and shared feeling among fans.  The unfamiliar territory that we must learn to call home is Brooklyn.  Maybe it is a better alternative to Kansas City, but that is for you to decide.

Breaking down the Barclays Center from a hockey fan’s perspective is simple; however,  breaking down the same thing from a home-grown Long Islander’s perspective is not as easy.  Quite bluntly, the arena was built for Jay-Z concerts and the Brooklyn Nets, not for hockey.  Hockey was not considered in Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s blueprints.  Regardless, the Islanders are inked for 25 years in Brooklyn.  It is not perfect; there are obstructed views from seats, a giant scoreboard over the blue line, countless blind spots, less seats than the Coliseum has, and no tradition.

Now it is still the same team, spearheaded by captain John Tavares, star defensemen Nick Leddy and Jonny Boychuck, and Slovakian superstar puck-stopper Jaroslav Halak.  But come on Islanders marketing team. “Tradition has a new home in Brooklyn”?!  Stop trying to say this situation is anything above mediocre.  Fans are outraged, and social media shows it.  People who have been going to the Coliseum since the beginning, I mean the real beginning, sitting in the same seats for decades, will lose their traditions.  Tradition does not have a new home.

No more Ice Girls and no more Sparky.  They took away Sparky!  How could they?  At least call a spade a spade and say something like, “Tradition is gone because of politics, but we are going to try something else in a different place and hope it is somewhat similar.”

You know that blanket you have had for your entire life?  Yeah, the one your grandparents made for you and brought to you in the hospital the day you were born.  It is old, a little tattered, but you still have it and love it just the same, right?  Imagine having it ripped away and replaced with a shiny new one made by a machine.  It is aesthetically nicer, yes.  But which one would you rather have?

I suppose I am looking for some sort of closure in writing this.  Growing up an Islander fan, the Coliseum was like a second home.

I have had birthday parties, tears of sadness and of joy, and unforgettable memories shared at the Coliseum with the most important people in my life.  I will always swear that it was my favorite arena; better than Madison Square Garden, Shea Stadium, and Giants Stadium.  It was called a dump by others (and even by myself at times), but it was our dump.  I did not mind waiting 20 minutes to use the bathroom, getting stuck in the parking lot, or getting crammed next to drunken fans in the hallway outside of the ice.  Rather, I loved it.  I do not know a better feeling than running out of the Coliseum and bolting to the car after a close win, followed by bellowing the horn to “Let’s go Islanders.”  How could I forget picking up a $2.00 semi-burnt, semi-frozen, but still somehow amazing, pretzel in the parking lot.

“All that stuff, I just get angry.  I’m not happy about it in the least.  I’m not yet in the process of trying to make sense of it in a historical standpoint that creates wistfulness.  My blood boils thinking about them leaving.  Sorry if I don’t have any flowery prose.  The Islanders should’ve been on Long Island for forever,” said long-time Islanders announcer Howie Rose.

Last season was memorable.  The Islanders had their best regular season since the heydays of Mike Bossy, Bobby Nystrom, Brian Trottier, and Billy Smith.  Of course it would be insane to leave out Bill “The Architect” Torrey and Hall of Fame head coach Al Arbour (rest in peace), the greatest in Islanders history.  However, it ended in disappointment yet again and the Islanders are not satisfied with coming up short.

The Washington Capitals stomped the fairy tale dreams fans had in mind in Game 7 of the first round.  At least the Islanders won the final game ever played at the Coliseum.

Looking forward, this year is an important one.  With returning, experienced players in Anders Lee, newly-slated forward Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson, the KID linesmen are no longer kids.  And for the Islanders to be successful in their 2015-2016 campaign, they need to step up.

John Tavares will be his usual Hart Finalist self, but the question mark stands to his left.  Who will accompany him and Kyle Okposo on the first line for the year?

Although it is nice to have the first game of the season scheduled at “home,” the Islanders will face the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, an offensive powerhouse led by sharpshooter Jonathan Toews and superstar Patrick Kane.

This season, we will root for our team because they are still our Isles.  Here’s to many “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chants, Joe Satriani guitar solos, and “If you know the Rangers suck” harmonies.  Let’s get it this year, boys.