It’s been an eventful year for the New York Islanders, who made major moves both on and off the ice. The Islanders captivated fans on Long Island and Brooklyn, closing Nassau Coliseum and starting a new chapter at Barclays Center. From the old guard to new goalies and new traditions, here are the New York Islanders top seven defining moments of 2015.
7. BAILEY AND NIELSEN PLAY 500 GAMES:
Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey hit Islanders’ milestones in 2015, each appearing in their 500th games. They are two of the longest-tenured Islanders – Kyle Okposo and John Tavares are 15 and 34 games shy of 500, respectively – and have assumed key roles on the Islanders road to becoming a contender.
6. LEDDY AND BOYCHUK SIGN EXTENSIONS:
Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy both played integral roles in the Islanders 47-win, 101-point season. Brought in four days before the season started, Leddy and Boychuk decided they had seen enough in five months, inking a pair of seven-year deals to stay with the team for the long haul.
5. THE ISLANDERS GET THEIR GOALIES:
The New York Islanders solidified their crease in 2015. Jaroslav Halak set the Islanders’ single-season wins record (38) in 2014-15, breaking the previous record held by Billy Smith, Rick DiPietro and Chris Osgood. This season, Halak and backup Thomas Greiss have been two of the Islanders’ best players, providing steady, reliable goaltending, while stealing the odd game for their club. Success tends to start in goal and it’s always better to have a rock in the crease instead of an anchor.
4. AL ARBOUR PASSES AWAY:
Al Arbour’s passing was the Islanders’ biggest loss of 2015. Arbour was one of the most celebrated coaches in NHL history, second in all-time coaching wins (782) and first in games coached (1500) with one franchise. He coached the Islanders in four different decades, from the early 1970’s, the 1980’s dynasty years, the early 1990’s and for one game in 2007. Arbour made the Islanders a competitive, formidable club and served as a father figure for the young men who wore blue and orange. He commanded the utmost respect from his peers, but his big heart matched his intense desire to win. The hockey world mourned his passing in August and the team paid tribute to Arbour on opening night in Brooklyn. Rest in Peace Al, you are missed.
3. YES! YES! YES!
2015 was the year of Yes! Specifically Yes! Yes! Yes! What started as a localized chant (in the 2013-14 season, actually) from Section 329 caught fire in 2015 and was adopted by Islanders fans. The players took notice, too, and made it their bond with their fans. Yes Yes Yes’ organic roots make it even more special and the spontaneous moments it’s spurred.
2. ISLANDERS CLOSE THE COLISEUM:
Last season was all about celebrating the life of Nassau Coliseum, the team's home for 43 years. The Islanders paid tribute to their past – bringing legend and legendary jerseys back to Long Island – and defended the honor of the building, posting a 22-14-5 record on home ice. It was packed (sold out 30 times) and noisy (unquantifiable) providing the backdrop for one of the most fun Islanders seasons in recent memory.
In the playoffs, the noise and intensity were ratcheted up in what was a boisterous seven-game series with the Washington Capitals. The playoff run was cut short in D.C., but the building went out on a win, thanks to Nikolay Kulemin’s winning goal in Game 6.
1. ISLANDERS MOVE TO BROOKLYN:
This has been the biggest Islanders’ story of the past three years, but in 2015 it became real, as the Islanders started life in Brooklyn.
The move to Barclays Center has come with all sorts of perks including: black-and-white alternate jerseys and a state-of-the-art locker room.
Combine a brand-new arena with a winning team (the Islanders are 12-6-2 at home this season) and the Islanders’ profile is arguably the highest it’s been in years. The Empire State Building was lit up orange and blue and Islanders games are now celebrity events. Kevin Connolly, Chloë Grace Moretz, The Mets, Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman and the Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio) all took in games at Barclays. Even Fetty Wap was reppin’ the Islanders this season.
Best Barclays moment so far… the Islanders 2-1 shootout win over the New York Rangers.
The Islanders and Rangers played a thrilling, back-and-forth game, full of tension, passion and ultimately euphoria for the Islanders. It was the loudest and most energized the building has been all season. The game was nationally-televised and the rest of the hockey world got to see the Islanders and Barclays put its best foot forward.