For one of the newest Islanders, making a home on Long Island is a dream in more ways than one.
made the trip back to Long Island all the way from British Columbia to spend a week in the Isles community. During his visit, he had the opportunity to spend time with children at summer camps and skate with youngsters at local rinks.
|Ty Wishart with young Islanders fans at the Brookhaven Youth Camp. |
Two of the bigger events on Wishart’s itinerary were the Islanders Vote Yes Rally held Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum and his first Islanders Team Store autograph signing Tuesday evening. Both events were extra special for the Isles defenseman.
“I think it’s just great to meet your fans,” Wishart said. “They support us all season, so it’s nice to give back and do events like this. It just takes a couple hours out of our day to meet a bunch of fans. Hopefully that can help to make their day.”
Meeting fans was just a part of the 23-year-old’s journey back to the island.
Wishart started his visit at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point with fellow d-man Andrew MacDonald
on Thursday, July 21, where he was given the chance to drive the boat.
“They were kind enough to let me steer the thing,” Wishart laughed. “I kind of just took orders and it was pretty simple to do, but it showed a lot of trust in me behind the wheel, so it was pretty fun.”
Next, Wishart spent the morning of Monday, July 25 at Brookhaven Day Camp in Yaphank, where he signed autographs and posed for photos with more than 300 young campers. Many of the children weren’t quite sure of who the 6’4”, 222-pound Isles player was, but that didn’t seem to bother Wishart.
One fan that stood out to Wishart was a young male camper who said he hoped the new Coliseum would be built soon so he could be an Islanders player some day.
“Obviously, a lot of the kids were like, ‘who is this guy’ when I handed them the autographed picture,” he said. “It’s really exciting, though, when you see a kid like him who is a true fan. For him to say that hopefully we get the vote so he can be an Islander some day is a pretty cool statement for a little kid to make. We need more like him.”
Passing the August 1 referendum was a theme that carried throughout the rest of Wishart’s week on Long Island – something Wishart said is attributed to a strong Isles fan base. Wishart, who was traded to the Islanders from the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 1, was humbled by the amount of support he’s already received from that fan base.
As he made a visit to the Islanders Team Store at Sunrise Mall on Tuesday, July 26, he was greeted by more than 100 fans - a turnout even he didn’t expect.
“Honestly, I didn’t think there were going to be this many people that showed up,” Wishart said. “It just goes to show how many fans we have here on Long Island. It’s pretty incredible for a guy like me. I was only here for 20 games last season, so to get this kind of turnout, it’s pretty exciting.”
Wishart attended the Vote Yes Rally Wednesday, July 27 with fellow teammates Matt Moulson
and Rick DiPietro
, where he urged more than 2,800 fans to support the referendum vote on Monday. When discussing the rally, Wishart reiterated the fan support and added the need for the building of a new sports and entertainment venue in Nassau Conty.
“I thought it (rally) was great,” he said. “To see that many fans come out was pretty exciting. It’s really nice to get the awareness out there. I think it’s definitely an exciting time. To be a part of this, it’s great. If we actually get this, which I hope we do, it’s making history.”
It’s really exciting, though, when you see a kid like him who is a true fan. For him to say that hopefully we get the vote so he can be an Islander some day is a pretty cool statement for a little kid to make. We need more like him. - Ty Wishart
Wishart concluded his trip on Long Island with a stop at Islanders Iceworks in Syosset on Thursday, July 28. While there, he skated with several youngsters and helped guide them through different drills.
“The coaches did most of the work for me,” Wishart said. “I just got to help to do a couple demonstrations and talk with the kids about what it’s like to be in the NHL and pretty much about the fundamentals of skating.”
For Wishart, who grew up in Kelowna, BC where there wasn’t an NHL team nearby, he said he wished he had the opportunity to attend camps like the one at Iceworks.
“I wish I had the chance to do things like this,” Wishart said. “It wasn’t exactly an NHL destination where I grew up. I did get to see a lot of junior players who came out. That was a pretty interesting experience, especially being that young. It’s pretty cool to be on the opposite end of that now.”
Wishart is hoping to both make the team this season and stick around for longer than 20 games as well as continue to play for the Islanders for many years to come.
“My goal is obviously to make the team this season out of training camp and continue to play in the NHL,” he said. “We need a new rink. People are excited to have a hockey team here. It’s going to be a shame if we don’t get the new arena and would have to leave. There are a lot of dedicated fans. It’s really been an eye-opener since I’ve been here.”
If the referendum vote is not passed Monday, Wishart and all of his teammates may have to make their homes and NHL careers off of Long Island.