“We have the best fans in the world,” is the way Islanders General Manager Garth Snow fielded questions about the parade of over 1,000 fans descending on Nassau Coliseum for Saturday night’s matchup versus the Atlanta Thrashers.
He continued, “We have, here on Long Island, the most passionate hockey fans and I think that the positive side with something like tonight is how many fans we have in the NHL. We welcome all fans of the NHL.”
Even though the attendance at Nassau Coliseum hasn’t shown the Islanders spirit that were evidenced by the sell out crowds attending games during the organization’s four Stanley Cup runs in the early 1980s, Long Island is still home to many passionate hockey fans who cheer for their team, even through the most difficult times.
“There are a lot of variables that go into why the attendance isn’t there right now and obviously winning hockey games is a big part of that, but there are other ingredients as well, the tough economy and so on,” Snow said. “But for us we need to win hockey games and get our fans back in the building.”
Snow said the Nordiques fans could help the atmosphere, but they will in no way hinder the goal of the organization, and that is to win hockey games.
“For me, as the GM of this hockey team, I’m focused on how we get to where we need to be and that’s winning hockey games,” Snow said. “And that starts tonight.”
The GM also said that he will not deviate from his plan to rebuild through a young core of players, whether that is the draft, free agency or trades, he will do whatever it takes in the best interest of improving this hockey club.
“We have a situation where we are going with young players and I’m not going to deviate from the plan to rebuild through the draft. I’m not going to trade our young prospects, whether they are in Bridgeport, junior hockey, college hockey or in Europe for a quick fix.”
Snow continued, “If there is something that makes sense for us in the short term and long term, we will look at it. There have been several occasions where we have added players through free agency, trade, through waivers where if we feel if it’s in the best interest of this team long term and short term, we’ll do it.”
The future of the franchise was also questioned as the Islanders lease with Nassau Coliseum runs out in 2015. Snow explained that the team plans to honor its lease through to the end, and plans to keep the team on Long Island with the help of Islanders owner Charles Wang.
“We are here through 2015. We are going to honor the lease and we aren’t going to play one day longer than we have to in this arena. With that being said, we have an owner in Charles Wang that has booked over $250,000 just into our locker room to make it more comfortable for our players, in addition to a players lounge, a kitchen and a renovated training room. For us, as a hockey team, we’re here to try to win hockey games and we try to make it as comfortable for the players as we can.”
In the end, the New York Islanders will remain on Long Island through 2015. For now, the Islanders welcome all hockey fans to their home on Long Island.