When the solar rose over Lengthy Island Saturday morning, the day Islanders followers by no means thought would come lastly did.
From the years of wrestling with the inadequacies of Nassau Coliseum to the pressured transfer to Brooklyn, the place Barclays Heart face-planted as a hockey venue — with obstructed sight strains and shoddy ice high quality — the sold-out grand opening of the Islanders’ $1.1 billion UBS Enviornment on Saturday night time marked the daybreak of a brand new period.
An period when the Islanders have some of the extravagant arenas within the NHL. A constructing that’s match to function residence base for a group that has made it to the Stanley Cup semifinals prior to now two seasons. A brand new residence that was constructed for the followers.
That a lot was evident by the impossible-to-miss “Welcome House” mural painted on the wall subsequent to the escalators to the higher concourse. However what else would you anticipate from Jon Ledecky, a person who’s generally known as a fan’s proprietor.
“Islanders followers have the house that they deserve,” the franchise’s co-owner instructed The Submit earlier than the Isles fell 5-2 to the Flames in entrance of a passionate crowd of 17,255. “It’s been an extended journey, it’s been loads of work, however right here we’re.
“I simply can’t wait to get inside to see the response on their faces as they stroll in.”
What was actually value seeing was the road of followers who waited to personally thank Ledecky for delivering on his promise of a brand new enviornment.
A person whose youngster was recognized with most cancers two years in the past to the day wrapped himself round Ledecky and defined how a lot of a welcome distraction the night time was. One other fan, Anthony Ferrante of West Hempstead, instructed Ledecky he was on the opening night time of the Coliseum along with his brother, who has since handed. He mentioned he introduced his son, Anthony Ferrante Jr., to sit down in the identical nosebleed seats on the opening night time of UBS Enviornment to honor his brother.
“Sports activities brings households collectively,” Ledecky mentioned. “The Islanders are a household.”
UBS Enviornment could have been in a position to come to life amid the coronavirus pandemic, which stalled building final March for a few month, however the group was given one other painful reminder that COVID-19 remains to be very a lot a variable to be cautious of.
The Islanders had been with out their longest tenured participant, Josh Bailey; their captain, Anders Lee; along with Ross Johnston, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Anthony Beauvillier — who’re all presently in COVID-19 protocol. Plus, Ryan Pulock watched from afar after struggling a lower-body harm that can sideline him for 4-6 weeks, leaving the Islanders with a shell of their group to take the ice for the primary recreation at 2400 Hempstead Turnpike.
“I despatched them a bit textual content, as a result of they had been those that had put loads of the blood, sweat and tears into maintaining this group aggressive,” head coach Barry Trotz mentioned. “Having to undergo the Coliseum, Barclays, and again to the Coliseum. They’re those which have grinded by loads of that they usually needed to miss that chance.”
Nonetheless, the Islanders’ most extremely anticipated night time in latest reminiscence went on as deliberate. Whereas key members of the Islanders present core couldn’t be there, those that have cemented themselves within the franchise’s historical past had been.
Royal blue carpet was rolled out onto middle ice for the introductions of Islanders Corridor of Famers Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Ken Morrow, Ed Westfall, Patrick Flatley, John Tonelli, Butch Goring and Bob Nystrom. The announcer then gave a shout out to Mike Bossy, who just lately introduced he was recognized with lung most cancers and was unable to attend.
Essentially the most crucial tribute of the night time, nonetheless, went to Charles Wang. The late former Isles proprietor was honored with a video montage for his loyalty to the neighborhood and his relentless dedication to maintaining the group on Lengthy Island. With out him, UBS Enviornment at Belmont Park would by no means have been doable.
So when the solar set Saturday night time and the primary residence recreation of the season went within the books, Isles followers emptied out of the world nonetheless inflicting a ruckus regardless of the loss. As a result of there can be different video games, many different video games, at UBS Enviornment.
Do you consider it’s actual but?