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The Islanders Last Stand at Nassau

By Danny Radical

Hey all,

Yes, this is a week or so late. That's totally fine, because sometimes you need time to digest something emotional and unsatisfying, like a bad meal, or a divorce, or the results of an election in Nassau County, or the disappointment of a billionaire asking for free land because he really really needs it!

On September 17, 2017 an amazing thing happened. New York Islanders returned to where they made hockey history, sports history, and really were a part of the peak of the existence of Long Island, which unfortunately for any reader under the age of 30 was before your time. Not your fault, as you couldn't vote yet.

But if you can, imagine a time where franchise dining was rare, your neighbors owned where you hung out, you could drive a car right into the movie, you could still fix your own car, everyone knew how to skitch, there were awesome rock bands, you could hang out and have no fear of getting kidnapped or molested, Chuck E Cheese was owned by friggin Atari, you could play jail hunt in your neighborhood, and your local teams covered the NFL, MLB, and NHL...and for a time the NBA. And there was a pro sports arena in Commack. And Hempstead. And Uniondale.

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Championship parade- one of four

None of those pro arenas or teams exist on Long Island today. Which is among the reasons why Long Island has become a turd in a punchbowl.

If you never had the pleasure of wasting your youth at Lou's Hot Dog Stand in Copiague, they clearly were missing out on the magic Long Island used to offer. "Mustard and Onions, very nice!"


As always, I digress. The Islanders rolled into the Nassau Coliseum for the first time since the 2015-16 postseason. That last ever home game at the Coliseum was amazing, even magical. Magical seems a strong word? Deposed coach Jack Capuano won a playoff game at home, despite Doug Weight's record setting ineptitude with the power play. Houdini would be jealous.


This new game? Since that last home win the building had an underwhelming facelift. It also had a shortsighted redesign- note to coliseum: when you shift weight to the outside, you can move the interior windows further out. It's called gothic architecture, and it's 900 years old. Like rookie Scott Mayfield. Also, it'd give you a wider concourse for all of those beer carts that serve $12 cans of shitty beer. Porch Rocker? The offerings were more like Porcelain Rocker!

To prepare for this game, I unretired a special Islanders jersey- the one I wore to the last regular season at the Coliseum, and the first game at the Barclays, among others. I figured that THIS would now be the last home game at the Coliseum, so it was time to break it out of its case one last time.


The following narrative is a pretty accurate timeline as to how the very likely last Islanders game at the Nassau Coliseum unfolded. The minutes are approximated, but hardly.


9:30- The Isles Realist squad of @IslesRealist, Mr and Mrs @georgeapace, and @JoshBarely arrive at the Coliseum, for the first time in a couple of years, but not for the first time as a crew. We pay the $15 prepaid parking fee, rather than the $20 at the gate fee. Economics, son. We then roll to a far corner of the parking lot to spread ourselves out and give ourselves some space.

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Don't worry- it packed out later on.

9:40- We notice a ton of fans running across Hempstead turnpike into the parking lot. It dawns on us that there are no longer fences stopping fans from entering the Coliseum parking lot. Nor are there porta potties to hang a rope in the parking lot.


9:50- Security approaches two guys nearby to inform them that they are not supposed to tailgate with a barbecue. The two guys whip out a grilled hamburger and barter a peace settlement. Deliciousness wins the day. We break out the barbeque as well. Why the yambag can't you cook at a tailgate? They have an industry creating grills for that purpose. Way to go Brett Yormark- fire the good people of Palatine, Illinois. Douche.


10:00- 3 vans pull up. The back doors open, and out launch a gaggle of 10-12 year olds wielding roller blades jump out the vans and immediately begin an hours long pick up game. Fans watching nearby pick sides to root for.


10:15- A counterfeit vendor comes by with hats, 3 for $20. They look just like the hats that sell for $20 at Barclays. And we all know, no one peddles wares on the quiet streets of Brooklyn. He stops to watch the kids play hockey, AN EVENT THAT CAN NEVER HAPPEN IN BROOKLYN. The Islanders lose themselves a generation of fans, in plain sight of their 42 year home. Douches.


10:30- Someone asks if it's too early for beers. They clearly have never heard the brilliant phrase "the stomach has no clock." Hat tip to the Big Guy.

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The Isles Realists Trio Grande

10:40- Grill is warming up. A crew of #IslesRealists led by @njalbanese come by. As we start to chat, we realize that #IslesRealists are made up of doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEO's, CFO's, educators, etc. Not hipsters, people that think Katie Perry is intellectual, people looking for the cool places to be seen before or after the game(how's that going, Flatbush Farm and Bierkraft?), and people who don't know what hockey is but think rust on a building is a good look.

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Christ.

11:00- Eating better quality food than offered in arena, at half the price. Maybe if Yormark allegedly didn't charge local guys rent plus a percent of profits then the food would be fairly priced. Allegedly.


11:30- Understand that the NHL is displaying the Stanley Cup in the parking lot. A majestic trophy that John Tavares will never lift if he resigns where Garth Snow works. Curious as to why if the NHL says that the Nassau Coliseum is inadequate for hockey they would send their best trophy here for a preseason game. Gary Bettman is a varnished turd.


12:00- Kids still playing roller hockey. If that was Brooklyn there would be 16 taxi cab vehicular manslaughter instances. The cab driver would charge the deceased for slowing them down.

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Told you it filled up!

12:10- Word gets to us that Ledecky was in the parking lot meeting fans that were tailgating. I wondered out loud how a family can have both an Olympic champion and a guy who has no idea how to win in the same gene pool.


12:30- We head in, awaiting a passionate crowd. 13,917 were louder than the Barclays has ever been. Which makes sense, as Barclays rarely draws 13,917 (avg Barclays attendance 13,101 http://www.espn.com/nhl/attendance/_/year/2017)

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All fans know that autograph path. Does the Barclays have such?

1:10- Seated with a way better view than any seat in Barclays. Thanks, Charles.


During the game, we saw some awesome sights. A transgendered bathroom. Mrs. Josh Bailey with their beautiful children. For the record, Bailey scores way more with the missus than on the rest of the NHL combined. Josh Ho Sang hanging in the crowd, looking like a scratch. Random crying towels supplied by Loupon. $12 Blue Points. Nathans.
And the game? The Flyers jumped out for an early 2-0 lead. The Islanders responded, as John Tavares put the team on his shoulders as usual and scored 2 goals, including the winner in overtime. There were Yes chants. There was a victory. Eberle was a passenger, in Capuanospeak.

The arena? It's not the same. The color scheme changed for the 70's. Paneling? The seats are better quality than before. The capacity is smaller. The food is just as bad but more expensive. Same with the parking.

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Nice Paneling. Ugh.


The fans? Loyal. Loud. Lusty. This was their afternoon. Their last dance. Their way to have closure after seeing their team ripped away because ownership was lazy and disinterested. The people that understood it all? Not Garth Snow, who is a load. Not Charles Wang, who is an unfunny scallywag. Not MalDecky, who are clearly in over their heads. They're already looking to sell a chunk of the team because they're not THAT rich, in case you didn't hear.


The people that understood it all were in the seats, spending up to $100+ on a preseason game, bringing their kids to see a dinosaur...actually, a dodo. The full plans to renovate the Coliseum never exactly filled out. Same goes for the team. And the ownership. You think that'd be the ultimate matchmaking. Call it OK Cupid for the NY Clueless.


Fans are not calling the building NYCB Live. They're calling it the Coliseum. Great job with the naming rights. Hope that costs $1 per event. And by the time anyone wants to call it anything other than the Coliseum, the naming rights will expire. Ask the Westbury Music Fair and Jones Beach Theater how that works.

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Paul Arena? He has the bigger billing!

So, what happened at the end? When the game ended? Honking in the parking lot, reminiscent of the time before @IslesSUV existed. "Honk Honk HonkHonkHonk!" In Brooklyn thats a $150 fine. Here, it's tradition. One that will be lost. We all met up again after the game and lingered around for a while to take it all in, for one last time.


As the realists sat there, I thought of my last Islanders home game at the Coliseum. As the game ended I sat in my seat and realized that this was it. It was goodbye to my old friend. It flatlined while the hockey EMT's watched and did nothing. I put my head in my hands and cried. Not because I had seen so many great moments live. I'd have to be 75 to have seen that. The wheel of owners made sure that never happened.

No, I cried because I no longer had the option of on a whim taking my kids to the game. Or teaching them how to root for hope in the face of a defeat. How to appreciate the thrill of an underdog. How in few years I won't be able to afford taking my grandkids on a $175 per person round trip off peak Long Island Railroad ride to Brooklyn or Belmont, to pay $1000 per seat to see a largely bonded publicly funded arena next to a racetrack. Two places full of horseshit as neighbors. Imagine that!


And I had tears for history, because Long Island became yet another step closer to being nowhere. No identity. No way to share traditions with the family. No place to sit with my friends in the sun and enjoy some chatter as we anticipate the game. Because it all has to be monetized and politicized without being actualized.


Please add another Stew Leonards. Subject me to another Sonic. Toss in overpriced undertasty meals at Wahlburgers. Take away the Hollow Creamery in Carle Place. Cya Jimmyjacks in Bellmore. Adios, Ariana in Huntington. Rest in peace, Lou's Hot Dog Stand of Copiague. Watch as Effin Gruven in Bellmore slowly fades away. Not even a Loupon can save that. Even old Islanders players hangout Dr. Hospitality had to change names (but go find it and check out the original Islanders players pictures). And you all know places you enjoyed that made way for the national franchises as well.

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But hey, for the fans? The MTA will provide 1 train per hour to the underdeveloped and underprepared Atlantic Terminal to see an average hockey team sponsored by a bank with a rusty building that watches two tenants do absolutely nothing akin to winning a championship. Understand that between 1976 and 1986 the Nets and Islanders won 6 championships in the Nassau Coliseum. And in Brooklyn? Losing is just more of the same.


So as we left the Coli, and looked to avoid the ever present Meadowbrook Parkway post game accident- there were two- we all had a laugh, telling stories that in a few years won't mean anything to anyone but about 16,234 fans who can remember the good times, the bad times, and the stupid times, and let it be our own old age home away from home. One day I expect to tell my grandkids about how I saw champions on Hempstead Turnpike, and they'll say "Where? At the Mega Wal-Mart? Sponsored by Diabetes?" And we'll both be right.


For me, I was glad that they changed everything about the aesthetics. It wasn't so much a coming home as it was a visit. It was easier to stomach. It even gave hope to meet up again down the road, although that's something I don't think it going to happen. Which is why I put my last game jersey back in its case, and added another ticket stub.

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