For the moment, the rafters of the Nassau Coliseum are primarily all about the New York Islanders including four Stanley Cup banners, four conference championship banners, three regular season championship banners, six division championship banners, eight banners for retired numbers, banners for the legendary duo of General Manager and Head Coach Al Arbour and an Islanders Hall of Fame banner.
But next season, those banners will move a little west to the Islanders’ new home UBS Arena at Belmont Park and that means there will be plenty of room created in the rafters for new memories created by the teams that will continue to call “The Barn” home, including the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League.
If things work out according to plan, one of those banners will be “TEAT 51” for Jeff Teat who signed a two-year contract on Tuesday and is set to bring his attack skillset to Long Island for the start of the 2021-22 season this December.
“I want to be able to put Jeff’s jersey in the rafters along with a couple of championships for the Riptide too,” said Rich Lisk, Executive Vice-President of GF Sports, the company that owns and operates the Riptide.
“Jeff is a once in a lifetime special talented player, not just on the field, but what he brings off the field too. It was a no-brainer for us. I will tell you a lot of teams in the league called us for that pick. A lot of teams in the league called us about things, and there was 0% chance we were ever going to trade that pick and not have Jeff Teat be in a Riptide uniform.”
Teat, the first overall pick in the 2020 National Lacrosse League Draft, is a three-time USILA All-American, a four-time Inside Lacrosse Media All-American and the third player ever to be selected first overall in both indoor and outdoor professional lacrosse leagues as he was also the number one pick in the 2020 Premier Lacrosse League draft.
“Extremely excited to be here,” said Teat during a Zoom meeting with reporters this week. “I’m excited to be a part of the Riptide family, and I’m excited to get playing in the Coliseum on Long Island once wintertime comes around.”
The former Cornell star and native of Brampton, Ontario in Canada was a Tewaaraton Trophy (best college lacrosse player in the country) nominee in 2018 and 2019 and was a three-time All-Ivy League selection. He finished his college career number three all-time in Big Red history with 268 points and 152 assists while his 116 career goals were ninth best in school history.
Teat also has extensive box lacrosse experience in the Ontario Lacrosse Association and was named the league’s Midget A Most Valuable Player in 2013. The following season, he moved up the ladder to Junior A and captured Rookie of the Year honors with 35 goals and 54 points in 19 games. Teat went on to play Junior A box lacrosse for the Brampton Excelsiors in the Major Series and was the MSL Rookie of the Year in 2019 with 36 goals and 44 assists for 80 points. For his Junior career, he had 213 goals and 364 assists for 577 points. He’s no stranger to the National Lacrosse League as his father Dan was a 14-year NLL veteran scoring 670 career points before becoming an assistant coach for the Buffalo Bandits.
Teat will bring star power to the Riptide and he also will be another piece to what the team is hoping will be a championship puzzle. He joins 2019 first over pick Tyson Gibson as well as key off-season acquisition Callum Crawford.
“Jeff is just a natural fit to be a huge building block for this organization to create winning culture, to create a winning product on the field,” said Riptide Head Coach Dan Ladouceur.
“He is able to find seams in the defense and catch and shoot with a quick release,” said Riptide General Manager Jim Veltman. “Riptide fans will be left shaking their heads with the things Jeff can do. I can’t wait for him to play with our players on offense.”
The COVID-19 pandemic cut short the 2020 college season so it’s been a while since we’ve seen Teat in action. Now that he’s signed, sealed and delivered for the Riptide, he can’t wait to get on the field with his new team and hit the turf at Nassau Coliseum.
“Yeah, definitely extremely excited,” said Teat. “I mean this team through the players and the management is extremely motivated.”
With Teat under contract, the Riptide are already hard at work getting the fan base excited about his arrival. They are offering fans a Jeff Teat player t-shirt with a $50 deposit per seat on a season ticket membership. The Riptide also plan to have Teat work some youth lacrosse clinics on Long Island this summer as the team continues to establish a footprint in the lacrosse community on Long Island.
Teat is aware of the prior box lacrosse history at Nassau Coliseum with the New York Saints and New York Titans and he’s also taken notice of just how popular the sport of lacrosse is on Long Island.
“I had a couple of teammates that are from Long Island at Cornell,” said Teat. “All they do is talk about how big of a lacrosse community it is and how they love playing lacrosse and watching lacrosse. And I also heard that there’s an extremely rich youth program there.”
Jeff Teat will be bringing a special skillset to the Riptide this coming season, a skillset that could one day earn him the honor of having a banner raised to the rafters at Nassau Coliseum. Through the years, there have been some pretty big names to have banners in the rafters including great Islanders like Mike Bossy, Bobby Nystrom, and Denis Potvin.
There’s also a banner for Long Island’s own “Piano Man” Billy Joel and one for former New York Nets star “Dr. J” Julius Erving. There was also a time when there were a couple of Saints banners in the rafters including one for the 1988 MILL World Champion New Jersey Saints, a title won the year before they moved to Long Island.
But there was never a retired number for the Saints, Titans or even the Long Island Tomahawks who played one season at Nassau Coliseum in 1975. With the Riptide embracing the past history of box lacrosse on Long Island, perhaps they go back and honor players like former Saints Sal LoCascio, Gordon Purdie and Pat McCabe. There will also be Riptide players who will eventually receive that honor somewhere along the line.
Jeff Teat could very well be one of the first.