The Islanders’ Stanley Cup dreams may have been iced by the Pittsburgh Penguins this weekend, but the playoff run also cast a spotlight on their resurgence and impending move from Nassau Coliseum.
Several national print and online news and sports outlets published articles dissecting fans’ renewed faith in the long-struggling hockey team that comes just as it prepares to move from its first home to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn—stories that at times felt like obituaries for the 41-year-old Uniondale arena dubbed “the old barn.”
“Anybody that watched the games and saw the crowd and the atmosphere obviously in the building…we got some respect around the league,” coach Jack Capuano told reporters after the Islanders abrupt 4-3 Game 6 overtime loss Saturday ended their season. “I think they respect the fact that our guys left it on the ice, they gave it everything that they had and it was great for our guys to hear the response that [fans] had to offer.”
Fans had chanted “MVP” for center John Tavares and “Let’s Go Islanders” despite the disappointing ending. The same chant in the form of car horn honks were heard for miles around the coliseum last week after the Isles won their first playoff game at home in 11 years.
A day prior to that win, Grantland, a sports and entertainment news site, ran a loving portrait of the coliseum, characterizing it as not really all that bad since “the ‘worst’ stadiums in America are often the best, and the ‘best’ are defined as the ones where you can buy sushi.”
Last Friday, the sports news website Deadspin posted a semi-autobiographical, somewhat political historical analysis, declaring “The Coliseum, from the very beginning, belonged to the people. And that was before the people’s hockey team took off.”
The New York Times wrangled a few fans, too, one of whom found out first hand how “this place used to vibrate, back when the Islanders were good.”
The Associated Press noted the Isles’ other rivals, whom fans are now left rooting against in a Game 7 showdown Monday night, usually overshadow the underdogs.
“They still take a backseat in attention to the New York Rangers, but there was that time in the 1980s when the Islanders ruled the league with four straight championships and a fifth consecutive appearance in the finals,” AP reported.
Islanders playoff fever was spreading like wildfire oddly just as four bidders publicly vie to renovate or rebuild the coliseum, including a plan by the Barclay’s Center owners who said if they win the bid, the Isles can still play six games a year at the Uniondale arena.
If the team decides to move to Brooklyn before their coliseum lease is up in 2015 as has been widely reported and what the roster will look like in October remains to be seen. But one thing is sure, reports ESPN’s Katie Strang: “Perception of the Islanders is bound to change after this.”