During his media availability with reporters on Sunday, Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello addressed several topics including his 1,300th NHL victory as a General Manager which came on Saturday night with the Islanders’ 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Another topic of conversation during Lou’s chat with the media had to do with the potential to welcome back fans to Nassau Coliseum.
There were, of course, no fans at the Coliseum for Saturday night’s game, but New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has given the green light for fans to return to arenas and stadiums, with a 10 percent limit on capacity, effective on February 23rd.
The first Islanders home game following that date will be on Thursday February 25th against the Boston Bruins, but it sure sounds like a lot must happen for approximately 1,400 fans to be able to enter “The Barn” on that evening.
“We were all excited to hear that,” said Lamoriello of Governor Cuomo’s announcement. “And I say that with an asterisk because certainly knowing what this pandemic has done to people that were close to me and certainly friends, how important it is for the safety and health of all our fans and all our people. That will take focus before that happens. There’s a lot of protocol that will have to be answered but I’m excited to hear the potential of that coming about in the near future but I don’t feel that should happen until we can really handle it in a very safe way as far as for the fans, the players and the game itself.”
When pressed on if he things that fans will be able to come to games as soon as that first eligible game on February 25th, the 2019-20 NHL General Manager of the Year did not paint an optimistic picture.
“I don’t think that you can assume anything,” said Lamoriello. “There’s a lot that has to be done, certainly well before that and that’s not too far away. I don’t believe that it will happen at that date, but I’m not the final decision maker with that. The decisions will come from what the protocol is. Can we satisfy the protocol? What is going to be necessary for the fans to be able to come in? What will they have to go through? There’s certainly a lot of questions unanswered at this point and certainly everyone is working on it. I don’t feel that anyone should put a date on it.”
If the Islanders are not able to welcome fans back on February 25th, the next few home games after that would be Saturday February 27th and Sunday February 28th against the Pittsburgh Penguins along with Thursday March 4th, Saturday March 6th, and Sunday March 7th against the Buffalo Sabres.
Ever since the announcement that fans will soon be able to return to games in New York State, Islanders fans, especially those who are season ticket holders and will get the first access to the limited number of tickets, were both excited and curious because there still isn’t a lot of information about how it’s all going to work. And based on what Lamoriello told reporters on Sunday, it sounds like it may take some more time to get all the answers that everyone wants.
Stay tuned Islanders Country!