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De Haan, Hurricanes Return to Nassau Coliseum

Canes set to play first game on Long Island in nearly four years

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Calvin de Haan chuckled with nostalgia as he stood inside the visitors' locker room at the newly renovated NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

"Quite frankly, it's kind of a dump, but it was our home, right?" he smiled. "This is an awesome building to play in. It was fun."

He's right. It was home for him and the New York Islanders. Now it's a sort of half-home, as they split their time between Long Island and Barclays Center in Brooklyn for home games in the 2018-19 regular season.

And, it looks a lot different than it used to. Sure, the bones are the same, but an 18-month, $180 million renovation spruced up the dated Coliseum.

"They fixed it up. It actually looks really nice, way better than I remember," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "It actually looks totally different. I'm sure it will be a fun game."

"I think the fans are embracing it again. Same with the players, too," said de Haan, who played the better part of two seasons on Long Island before the Islanders made the move to Brooklyn. "It's loud in here and intimidating. When that crowd is going, it can really send a chill down your spine. It's a fun place to play. I really enjoyed it."

De Haan and the Islanders played their final game at the Coliseum on April 25, 2015 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They topped the Washington Capitals, 3-1, to force a Game 7 - and that was that.

"It was pretty wild. There's not really any other way to put it," de Haan recalled. "That series could have gone either way. It was a war."

The Islanders returned to the refurbished old barn on Dec. 1, 2018, for the first of 20 home games to be played on Long Island in the 2018-19 regular season.

For the Hurricanes, Tuesday night's match-up marks their first game at Nassau Coliseum in nearly four years, and just two players who dressed that night - Victor Rask and Justin Faulk - will play for the Canes in their return. On a snowy night on Feb. 28, 2015, the Canes scored four goals in the second period en route to a 5-3 victory over the Islanders.

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: Feb. 28, 2015 ������ Jan. 8, 2019Nearly four years later, the #Canes return to Nassau Coliseum.

In fact, the Canes are 12-2-2 in their last 16 visits to the Coliseum.

"We always did well here," Brind'Amour said. "It was good."

Though he's faced his former team thrice already this season - twice in Raleigh and once in Brooklyn - de Haan said it's still a little weird, especially now being at the old rink.

"It was strange being on the other end of Barclays rink," he said. "The updates are a little different, but the rink is still 200 feet long, and it's still the home of the Islanders."

Even stranger for de Haan is the fact that the visiting team room now occupies the space that the Islanders' locker room once did. Renovations flipped the sides of either room in the bowels of the Coliseum.

In a way, he's returned to where it all began.

"It's nostalgic. It brings back some good memories," he said. "I was able to start my career here, and I'm very fortunate for the opportunity I had."

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