What if the diehard New York Islanders fan had a chance to write the Barclays Center a letter on the eve of Game 3? Well, here it is…
This letter, addressed to the Barclays Center, was uncovered Friday night inside of a pillar in the Nassau Coliseum: It’s contents are being reprinted here as an ESNY exclusive. (Insert fictional tone, of course.)
By Jeff Clutterbuck
Alright Barclays Center, here it is: your time to shine.
You’ve been mocked from the moment Charles Wang announced the New York Islanders were moving to Brooklyn.
The obstructed views, an arena not built for hockey, a lame goal horn, an SUV taking prime seating space, lousy ice, poor attendance…am I missing something?
But even with all the negative publicity, you have your chance to show everyone what you’re made of, this Sunday at 8 PM ET.
The Florida Panthers will be strolling into town, fresh off of a series-tying victory on Friday night in Sunrise. Suffice it to say, there won’t be many fans from their diminutive fan base present in the building.
I understand that there have been a decent amount of nights this season where you had copious amounts of unfilled seats. Fans that had paid to visit me for decades didn’t feel like making the longer commute out to Brooklyn. The new fans that your CEO, Brett Yormark, expected to fill the building didn’t come in as big of numbers as he had hoped.
Sure, there were plenty of nights in which I was feeling pretty empty.
There was that one night when a busload of Canadians from Quebec drove down to convince people that the Islanders would find a better home in Canada (Crazy right?). And yes, a few times a year, I’d be about half full with loud, obnoxious, fans wearing blue and red jerseys.
Don’t get me wrong, fun times, but it was nice to have some peace and quiet this year.
I had one of the greatest home-ice advantages in NHL history during the dynasty years, remember when I ended up getting that great nickname (“Fort Neverlose”)? Or how about that time when Shawn Bates nearly blew my roof off when he scored on that penalty shot? John Tavares did his best last year to send me off in style, although I would have liked to say goodbye a little later in June.
But now the team that I housed for 43 years finds itself hosting it’s first playoff game in Brooklyn. And honestly, I wish I could tell you what to expect, but truth is nobody really knows.
There’s some good news for you, though: None of what happened this season matters anymore. The playoffs are an entirely different animal, especially when the Islanders are hungry to advance past the first round for the first time since 1993 and David Volek.
This is most likely the final go-round for this roster, with players like Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen hitting free agency this summer. The 2016-17 New York Islanders roster could look vastly different, so if this group of players hopes to accomplish anything of note, now is the time.
No one knows Islanders fans better than I do, so when I say that I have a hunch they are going to show up on Sunday ready and raring to go, be prepared to see the best that hockey fans have to offer.
Islanders fans are sick and tired of being mocked and pitied for their team and for their building. It’s time they had a chance to let that rage out in their new home.
So I wish you good luck, and hope that sooner rather than later, you’ll get to hear the greatest of sounds after a Stanley Cup victory: “Let’s go Islanders!”