For the last 10 years, both the players who have pulled the New York Islanders sweater over their pads and Long Island residents have heard proposals for a new arena to replace the aging Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Finally, with only four years left on the team’s lease, the prospect of a new building seems like a reality. Wednesday’s announcement about plans for a new arena has players ecstatic as they look toward their futures with the franchise.
“I think everyone that is part of this organization, part of this fan base, this community, deserves to have something like this developed in this area,” Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro
said. “This is a huge piece of property on Long Island that can generate nothing but excitement, jobs, revenue and I just hope at the end of the day that it all gets done.”
Another excited player, 30-goal sniper Matt Moulson
, said he can’t wait for the project to get started. Evidenced by the three-year contract extension he signed earlier this year, Moulson is looking to have a long career on Long Island.
|New York Islanders players and coaches attend a press conference at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum announcing a new arena on Wednesday, May 11, 2011. |
“I told Garth (Snow, the Islanders General Manager) today that when I signed before I should have extended (my contract) to five years so that I would have ensured I would be playing in a new building,” Moulson said. “I hope to be part of this organization for a lot longer than the three years.”
The importance of Wednesday's announcement was evidenced by a rather remarkable long distance phone call to Slovakia that Moulson placed Tuesday afternoon. On the other end was his linemate, John Tavares
, who is currently competing for Team Canada in the quarterfinals of the IIHF World Championships.
“I talked to Johnny yesterday about it and he thought I was pulling his leg,” Moulson said.
“I told him, ‘Hey, I’m going to the new arena press conference tomorrow,’ said Moulson. “And he said, ‘No you’re not’… So I said, ‘No, this is true.’ He’s excited about it. I’m going to give him the details when I get home.”
While a bit of shock and awe sets in, seeing details of the development plans will make this more of a reality for the current Islanders roster.
“It’s very exciting to hear about the new arena,” Moulson said. “I’ve never been a part of a new arena before, so I’m sure it’s going to be an unbelievable rink. I’m excited to see all of the blueprints and the plans for the training facility and the dressing room and all of those sorts of things. It’s nice any time you get something new, especially when it’s going to be state-of-the-art.”
I’m excited to see all of the blueprints and the plans for the training facility and the dressing room and all of those sorts of things. - Matt Moulson
And yes, it will be equipped with some of the most advanced technology to date. But DiPietro asks that all Long Islanders and fans of the team not forget the rich history that the Coliseum possesses – including the Islanders four consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 1980s.
“The history here is phenomenal,” DiPietro said. “There have been some times when we got away from remembering what a historic franchise this is, but we’re headed on the right track. This building is a big step for us. Our play this year in the second half was a big step for us. I’m nothing but excited.”
DiPietro credited Islanders Owner Charles Wang for his perseverance.
“I know Charles definitely deserves it,” DiPietro said. “He’s invested a lot of time and money and effort into this franchise and keeping it on Long Island. I’m sure there has been opportunity for him to deviate from his plan to keep the team here, but he’s stuck strong. We’re fully behind him.”
And as the Islanders young nucleus works towards their next Stanley Cup run, players are continuing to show their commitment to playing on Long Island for the fans they love.
“I made a commitment,” DiPietro said. “This is where I want to be. This is where I want to stay and this is Long Island’s team. I couldn’t imagine us playing anywhere else. Getting this (new arena) done will make that a reality.”NOTES:
One big topic of discussion surrounding the announcement was how a new arena would attract free agents. While Garth Snow said the news offers players a sense of "stability", he reinforced that he will not change his approach for acquiring such players. He will continue to do what he feels is best for the team, but does not see the roster changing in dramatic proportions next season.