It was with a heavy heart that we visited and broadcasted from the Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York for the last time this past weekend.
The soiled and dated venue long ago became antiquated, even by 'charm' and 'storied history' standards. The Islanders new arena, The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be a massive upgrade even if it merely offers seats that don't appear to be encrusted in the same DNA-filth that only decades of overuse and neglect can create.
Rumor has it the Barclays Center had to be retrofitted for hockey and will have some "obstructed views". I think we'll all be fine with that as long as we never have to contemplate necessary intentionality - the study of aboutness - as we gaze out our Long Island Marriott window at the dystopic cement landscape that exists between the hotel and the arena.
As a player, I have fond memories of the Coliseum. When with the Whalers I dueled Jeff Hackett to a tidy little 1-1 tie on that blue-hued ice. And since I'm an insufferable narcissist, I also enjoyed replays, in-game, on what had to be one of the earliest if not the league's first video scoreboard.
As a young hockey fan, I remember the dynasty Islander teams of the early 80s that called that place home. They were hairy men with a great sniper (Bossy) and a nutty, aggressive and talented goalie (Billy Smith) who was Belfour before Eddie was The Eagle. They won four Cups in a row and as they were doing so that place in Uniondale rocked, I mean REALLY rocked. The staccato 'Lets Go Is-land-ers' chants and the stentorian nature of everything that emanated from that electronic organ in that low-ceiling barn sounded intimidating and awesome.
I give the Islanders, the Coliseum and the infamous Long Island Marriott credit. In the past 3 or 4 years they've done their best to spruce-up the once criminally neglected edifices. But sadly it's merely earrings and lipstick on a couple cosmetically challenged sows.
It's one thing for a jaded broadcaster to leave the Coliseum/LIMarriott in the rear view, it's quite another for long-suffering, die-hard, core Islander fans to have to see their beloved hockey team head for a greener pasture in the city. It's sad.
As I made that pedestrian trek from hotel to hockey on Long Island one last time I stopped at one of the many Islanders-fan tailgates for a minute to have a chat. A group of them summed up the love-hate they have for the dilapidated venue perfectly, "Sure it's a dump. But it's OUR dump."
That blind loyalty isn't making its way to Brooklyn; it'll be left on the promenade pavement of the eyesore on The Island.
Adieu Nassau, adieu.