The New York Islanders haven’t had home ice in the playoffs since 1988. So when the team made an unexpected playoff run this season, some fans on the island were worried all the games would be in Brooklyn.
“The hassle of commuting down there, picking up everybody I go with, and then getting in there it’s just ridiculous,” said season ticket holder Alex Klein.
Klein is still a season ticket holder, but he doesn’t go to the games at Barclays Center.
“You can’t tailgate in Brooklyn, just doesn’t happen. There’s no space to do it. Here you can tailgate,” he said. “You can have gatherings and get together with other fellow fans that you haven’t seen in a while. There’s no real venue, that I know of in the NHL that’s like this. It’s amazing.”
Since the Islanders split time between the two venues this season, he and many other fans urged the team, the NHL and local politicians to let the Islanders play on the Island this postseason. And Nassau County Executive Laura Curran took on the challenge.
“So I wrote a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Betman saying please, if they make the playoffs, can they please, please, please play in the Coliseum and he said yes,” said Curran.
The NHL was concerned about capacity at the new Coliseum, but this season the team averaged 2,000 more fans per game in Nassau than they did in Brooklyn.
“That’s where they belong: on the island. They never should have left the island,” said Gary Loporire of Old Bethpage.
If the Isles beat the Penguins in the first round, all future rounds will be played at Barclays Center. So, if the Isles advance, Klein says he’ll have to break down and head to Brooklyn.
“I’ll probably be forced to go. Will I like it? No. But if they’re winning, I don’t care.”
After all, it’s a small sacrifice to make for the Stanley Cup.