The New York Islanders currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division with a record of 31-16-1. They are a perfect 3-0 this season against their hated rivals, the New York Rangers, outscoring the Blueshirts 13-4 in those three games. Nearly every Isles home game this season at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the team is an astonishing 17-4 this year, has been a sellout. At the old barn in Uniondale where for years inept management and losing records left a void of deafening silence, there is now a packed house and raucous chants “YES, YES, YES, YES!” after every goal the Isles score.
Go to a game and you will see fans sitting in those lumpy old Coliseum seats with an undeniable look of bewilderment etched on their faces. They simply cannot believe it, but it’s true: The New York Islanders are one of the best teams in the NHL and are legitimate contenders for hockey’s ultimate prize.
But there is a dark backstory to this incredible season. The Islanders, along with their newfound success, will head to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for a much-needed arena upgrade, ditching the building they’ve called home since the franchise’s 1972 debut.
Long Island politicians failed miserably. They failed to strike a deal with team owner Charles Wang. They failed to convince the public to vote in favor of a new coliseum for a minimal tax increase. They failed to work across party lines to keep the team in Nassau County where it belongs. They failed to keep an important revenue stream and job creator on Long Island.
Most depressingly, their failures mean the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike will once again go silent—just another dilapidated relic on an island littered with unrealized potential and diminishing returns.