For 369 days and nights, Islanders fans have waited patiently. They’ve waited for when they would be packed inside Nassau Coliseum, for when they could cheer their favorite hockey team on again. Which brings us to tonight.
This evening marks the night the team will allow fans back into the Coliseum for the first time this season. The organization has been anticipating this day since Governor Cuomo’s announcement a month ago that sports venues could operate at 10% capacity. The atmosphere should be terrific, due in part to the crowd will be made up of over 1,000 health care workers who have and continue to put their lives on the line during COVID-19. It should be even more significant when the team welcomes back season tickets holders next Thursday against Philadelphia.
In the bigger scheme of things, both nights should provide a real sense of normalcy for many who bleed blue and orange whose lives might have been affected by this deadly reality.
“Yeah, it will be great,” Brock Nelson said enthusiastically to the media earlier this week. “You get some energy from some people. “That will be nice and give back a bit to what they’ve been doing for everybody in the community. It will be fun. I think everybody will be amped up. It will be nice to have some real noise and not generated so hopefully we can feed off of that and keep it rolling.”
So with that, it’s easy to say that the Isles getting back their supporters has come at just the right time.
Right now, the Islanders are currently on top of the MassMutual East Division and have been one of the best teams in the league over the last 20 games. Furthermore, they are playing the type of exciting brand of hockey that have many feeling they could go a long way possibly this spring. And make no mistake, this is a VERY good team.
Fans not being able to see them live and being resorted to endure their success through television and other media has been hard. That’s what makes them coming back now that much more special. The team’s supporters have been clamoring to get back to the Coliseum to see the team for a while. Having to swallow a bitter pill of not getting to experience the ride the team went on to its first Conference finals appearance in 27 years and having seen them go 11-0-2 on home ice thus far this year has only furthered that narrative.
With fans being allowed back, that connection to their home team can be restored again. Not only that, the Old Barn will be given its rightful sendoff before the team moves into its brand new home at UBS Arena at Belmont Park beginning next season.
The Isles announced yesterday that they had sold out the first seven home games, including next Thursday. 1,300 or 13,000, you know the place will be rocking. And with how the team is rolling, the next couple months have the chance to be something really special.
It’s the perfect storm. This Isles squad has Stanley Cup aspirations. The fans being back in the building.
What more could you ask for?
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_