Northwell Health Ice Center only sits about a mile from Nassau Coliseum, but as far as the two buildings are worlds apart.
The Islanders unveiled their new team campus at Northwell on Tuesday, staging a media tour of the renovated locker room, player lounge, gym, training area, kitchen and more. It's a state-of-the-art facility, a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation effort spearheaded by ownership to provide the Islanders with a first-class experience.
"To have top officials of the NHL come out and say 'wow this is one of the top-5 facilities now in the league,' we want to be number one of course, but I don't think historically we've been in that top-five. To be there now, to get that kind of positive feedback is terrific," Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said.
It's a gigantic leap forward from the Coliseum. As General Manager Garth Snow stood in the team's spacious lounge he recalled how the Coliseum didn't even have a lounge when he arrived in 2001.
"We realize where we came from, where we are at and we appreciate all the efforts that's been put in and the support from ownership," Snow said. "To invest in this type of facility has been appreciated by all of the players, coaches and staff."
The Islanders team campus serves two purposes: player performance and player comfort. No expense was spared to service those goals.
For performance, the Islanders have a sprawling training facility, highlighted by a Cryogenic chamber, a 20-person cold tub and an underwater treadmill. They have a brand-new gym, with a long, turf field, as well as free weights and machines.
While giving the tour, Head Coach Doug Weight also mentioned the team of chiropractors, masseuses the Islanders bring in as well as a sleep doctor in addition to a team of athletic trainers and strength/conditioning coaches. With an increased focus on nutrition, the team hired a private chef to prepare breakfasts, lunches, pre-game meals and take-home snacks.
The team's video room has been re-imagined as an intimate theatre, with multiple SMART screens allowing Doug Weight and his staff to draw plays and routes directly overtop of live video. Even the design of the room has a purpose, creating an environment where the players are closer together and are more comfortable asking questions.
Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies dropped by during the tour of the Islanders team campus - led by co-owner Jon Ledecky, Snow and Weight - and was asked to compare it to the Isles practice facility during the 1970s and 80s.
"The colors are the same," Gillies said.
That's about it.