There’s a certain melancholy to these games. With all the excitement of the Islanders 4-3 shootout win over the Sharks to keep their season undefeated, you couldn’t help to think about the Nassau Coliseum countdown and the impending move to Brooklyn.
Of course, the players don’t care. In fact, they may like it better in Kings County where the Borough of Churches is now a haven for the young and hip.
No, this is the about the Islander faithful. The Uniondale loyalists, who have endured bad season after bad season, and now they are seeing light at the end of the tunnel just as the team is ready to vacate the premises.
Understand this isn’t like 1957 when Walter O’Malley moved the Dodgers from Flatbush to Chavez Ravine. The Isles will be moving 40 minutes away and many of these fans can easily watch and root for their team.
However, we New Yorkers are creatures of habit and while progress is the name of the game here in Metropolis, we pine for the simpler days of our youth and these stadiums connect our generations and hold our memories.
But facts are facts. Of the nine major sports teams in the New York area, eight of them received new or heavily renovated buildings over the past seven years. Only the Islanders are playing in an outdated facility and something had to break.
It’s just unfortunate that it’s happening when this great revival is happening. This team seems to have the tools in place to make a great run this season and leave Nassau County of a happy note.
Start at the top with John Tavares becoming the best player in New York – in any sport. This is his team and everything that happens here revolves around him.
Unlike the current Rangers and the great Devil teams of the late 90s and early 2000s – which were built for winning with a world class goalie – Tavares’s Islanders are built to score, and you may have to go back to the early 90s, when Mark Messier arrived on the scene, to find such an impactful center playing in New York.
But it’s been more than just one guy. Even with changes in the goal and on defense, the Isles are playing like they have been together for 10 years and have bought into coach Jack Capuano’s philosophy.
“We are playing within the team concept and playing with force right now,” the coach said. “Anytime we play systematically, we are going to have some success.”
Everyone knows the Isles will lose some games this season, but with the way they are playing, it’s hard to imagine them on the golf course in April. This team looks like one that will take the next step by going to the playoffs and maybe even winning a round.
No matter how joyous it sounds for the team’s hungry fans, there’s still a certain sadness to it. With the countdown clock started, these will be the last Nassau County memories for this fan base.
And you can’t help but feel melancholy about that.