The New York Islanders tested out their new locker room at Barclays Center on Monday, getting dressed in their state-of-art-facility for the first time. A few finishing touches remain, but reviews from players and the coaching staff were overwhelmingly positive.
“The facility is beautiful,” Matt Martin said. “We all had pretty high expectations, but it still blew them away.”
The Islanders were always treated well on Long Island, but one step into the new, oval-shaped locker room and it’s easy to see the biggest difference: space. The Islanders new facility is a sprawling 10,000 square feet.
“It’s beautiful. They did a great job,” John Tavares said. “Not only do we have a lot of space, but it’s the right amount of space. Sometimes you can have too much and as a team we’re a really close group, so it’s nice to still spend a lot of time together, be with one another and obviously take advantage of the new bells and whistles.”
The bells and whistles include a new gym, lounge and kitchen area, complete with new equipment, new technology and a full pantry. The campus was designed to provide the Islanders with everything they’d need for a day at the rink, including team meals, which will now be eaten at Barclays Center – on comfortable couches.
“We’re eating all our meals in here,” Tavares said. “When you have a pre-game meal in the locker room right after the skate, you don’t have to go anywhere, go home and cook. Something that can be time consuming, just another stress-free thing that we get, the kitchen area and the lounge are pretty spectacular.”
Tavares added that access to the Brooklyn Nets practice court is another nice perk, as it gives the team more space to play soccer, basketball and do their pre-game warmups.
Even head coach Jack Capuano almost broke character Monday, showing some excitement for the new campus, which includes a coach’s suite.
“It’s impressive,” Capuano said. “They have the best of everything. Even the coaching side of it and the support staff, it’s pretty impressive. They left no stones unturned. It’s great to have it and it’s going to be very comfortable for the guys.”
Of course he added that he didn’t want them to get too comfortable because he wants to remain a tough team to play against.
Capuano shouldn’t worry. The new room – with its wood locker spaces, blue carpet and motivational messages – should only help the preparation for the team. The room is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including smart screens for studying film and drawing up plays in team meetings.
The training rooms should also help the recovery processes too. The Islanders campus features an X-ray room, therapeutic cold tubs, hot tubs and a sauna. Like Capuano said, no stone was left unturned.
“It’s a good place for us to call home and be able to hang out and have some fun,” Martin said. “A lot of guys worked very hard to make this happen.”
As the Islanders returned from their first morning skate, that new locker room smell began to dissipate.
Now it smells like hockey gear.