UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders will play all home games in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and all regular-season home games in the 2020-21 NHL season, at Nassau Coliseum.
The announcement was made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prior to their game Saturday against the Boston Bruins.
"I think when they moved to play [at Barclays Center] in Brooklyn, I felt the air come out of the balloon. It was not right," Cuomo said. "This is not what it is supposed to be. … The Islanders should be on Long Island. It was complicated more than anything because you had to deal with the NHL issues at this facility and we had to get them done and get them done quickly.
"I'm overjoyed. I thought we would have to wait for the new arena and that's when they would come back. That was another two, three years when we started, which is a lifetime. So this was risky and ambivalent, creative and adventurous. But we made it happen, and it's cool."
The Islanders began splitting regular-season and playoff home games at Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center last season. They played their Eastern Conference First Round home games at Nassau Coliseum and swept the Pittsburgh Penguins before shifting to Barclays Center in the second round, when they were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Upon receiving final approval to construct an arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, the amount of regular-season home games at Nassau Coliseum was increased from 21 to 28. The Coliseum was renovated after the Islanders' move to Barclays Center following the 2014-15 season, and the capacity for hockey decreased to 13,917 from 16,234.
"As the National Hockey League looks forward to the Islanders' move to Belmont Park Arena for the 2021-22 NHL season, thanks to the state's investment and upgrades to the facility and the commitment of Islanders ownership, we have now determined that the best option during this period of transition is for the club to play all of its regular-season home games next season and any home Stanley Cup Playoff games this and next season at Nassau Coliseum at NYCB Live," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We thank Barclays Center for playing host to the Islanders over the past five years and thank Islanders fans for their patience and loyalty while the League and the club work together with the State of New York to build the new home this proud franchise needs and deserves."
The Islanders are 13-8-2 at Nassau Coliseum this season. They are 7-0-3 at Barclays Center and haven't lost in regulation there since Jan. 12, 2019.
"This is our home, it's been our home forever," Islanders captain Anders Lee said. "We love playing here. It's exciting. We've been in a transition the last five, six years, whatever it is. But to have something solid and concrete and everything's moving forward on the building side of things, we're just happy as players. We all live out here, so it's easier."
Their new arena, scheduled to open for the 2021-22 NHL season, will be less than 10 miles from Nassau Coliseum, which hosted the Islanders when they won the Stanley Cup four straight seasons from 1980-83. The development project will include a 250-room hotel and 300,000 square feet of retail space.
"None of this matters without the fact that Belmont is coming out of the ground, and that's a testament to Scott Malkin and the other Islander owners, and to the governor," Commissioner Bettman said. "Without their commitment, their efforts and their vision, this wouldn't have happened. I don't want to even have to contemplate what the alternative would have been. As somebody who grew up on Long Island, I know how important not just the team but having a first-class facility, a major league facility, is for the economic engine and the psyche of what is Long Island."