The New York Islanders lost to the Washington Capitals in game seven of the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoffs on Monday. For the residents of Nassau County, the score does not really matter. The Islanders will now depart for their new home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Fans and Coliseum goers have expressed mixed feelings about the Islanders on their way out. While some have cried and reminisced, others are not so wistful.
Loyalty gets a kick in the pants
Just as the Islanders seemed to be gaining momentum in the NHL again the organization is set to bolt permanently from suburbia. The team has rewarded its loyal fans by leaving the only home the franchise has ever known. The soon-to-be-Brooklynites will take thier four consecutive Stanley Cups and retired jerseys over to the Barclays Center. Naturally, this is not sitting well with some.
Long Island resident and sports announcer Howie Rose recently expressed his feelings about the Islanders move to the five boroughs by saying he was “angry.”
Howie is just one of many.
Losing an NHL and NBA franchise, Commissioner Bettman’s comments
The Islanders will join the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. The Nets and the Islanders both started out at the Nassau Coliseum in 1972. How ironic that Nassau County has lost two professional franchises. Even better is the idea that they both wound up in Brooklyn together. Go figure.
You would be hard pressed to find another place where two big league teams have come and gone. But keep in mind the Coliseum is owned by Nassau County. The Islanders have orange and blue jerseys because those are the county’s colors. Dollars to doughnuts, private industry would have found a way for the Islanders to stay in Nassau. Even NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has commented several times about the entanglement of local politics in the county.
Regarding the planned redevelopment of the Coliseum, which is set to begin in August, Commissioner Bettman was recently quoted by Newsday as saying, “I’m not going to engage with Nassau politicians on any of that. I have no expectation based on anything that is realistic and in place that that will ever happen.”
Government strikes again
It seems there could be a correlation between the Coliseum being owned by the county and the Islanders exit. After all, Islanders owner Charles Wang did have a plan to finance the redevelopment of the Coliseum at zero cost to taxpayers. It was called the Lighthouse at Long Island project. Yet local government officials shot that proposal down. So, the Islanders are on their way out and the residents of Nassau County have been left with a gigantic void.
Islander stalwart Mindy Ferrentino, who actually saw the team capture the Stanley Cup several times during the glory days, had a different take on things. She sadly recalled a line from Shakespeare; “Good-night, sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Good night, orange and blue.