Much like a birthday, holiday, or even an iPhone release, counting down the days to a highly-anticipated event always seems to draw the wait out longer. Putting it out of your mind and honing your focus on another task at hand can cut the wait in half and, before you know it, the big day sneaks up on you.
A big day has snuck up on the Islanders, who have been busy since last year's grand debut at Barclays Center. On Friday night, the Islanders return to take on the New Jersey Devils. The aura of the first game in Brooklyn may have passed, but with puck drop so imminent, there is still a palpable excitement and anticipation.
“It’s something a lot of us are looking forward to,” Colin McDonald said. “There may not be as much talk or as much hype in the room about this one. Everyone wants to play there though.”
The building is expected to be near or at capacity, as is the press box. The organization is using this game as another chance to showcase its new building to old fans, reach out to new fans and sow the seeds of a new tradition.
“For us, we want to get the crowd going and get them involved in the game,” Islanders captain John Tavares said. “We just want to bring over that atmosphere like we have at the Coliseum.”
Traditions are bred through winning and the Islanders are looking for their first victory in Brooklyn, as well as a few other firsts in the new arena.
“We got shut out in our last game there,” Tavares said. “It would be nice to break the goose egg and get a win and get the feeling of what it’s like to win in that building.”
For Head Coach Jack Capuano, the importance of Friday’s game extends beyond the glitz and glam of the sleek arena at Atlantic Terminal.
We just want to bring over that atmosphere like we have at the Coliseum. - John Tavares
“We have a singular focus on what we have to do,” Capuano said. “These guys are still battling for jobs, so there are still a lot of nerves. There are still a lot of players still going through that process of how they are going to play to impress the coaching staff.”
The Islanders have also gotten to know Barclays Center as fans over the past year, crossing from the ice into the seats. Capuano, McDonald and Tavares have taken in Brooklyn Nets games, while Hamonic and the team’s country music fans donned their best plaid for a meet-and-greet with Luke Bryan.
When they say Barclays is one of the nicest arenas in the league, they have a well-rounded perspective.
“You get out of the train station, look up and see a pretty extraordinary building,” Hamonic said. “I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago and was able to get a better feel for the concourse. It’s awesome. It’s beautiful, it’s clean. You can probably eat off the floors there.”
Friday evening, the Islanders will once again be visitors in their new home. Then they’ll focus on the task at hand, sending off Nassau Coliseum with a bang.
“Next year is around the corner and it’s coming up pretty quick,” Hamonic said. “We’re excited about it, but we’re not going to look past this season.”
With that mentality, the first regular-season game next year at Barclays will arrive in no time.