It took a while. It took a long, long while. - Bruce Bennett
It's amazing the arena question dragged on this long. It's amazing all of us who suffered through the uncertainty will finally get our day.
The logo, colors and name will be the same in 2015 when the team takes the ice. But that ice is going to be in Brooklyn, not Long Island.
Given that I live in the Philly burbs, I can't be more excited that my team is staying in relatively the same place. It seems crazy to think of the NYC Metro area actually losing a professional sports team, something that hasn't happened since the late 1950s. The Islanders leaving would have been a black eye in more ways than one.
The Islanders will be saying good bye, or "come with us," to a fan base that served them well, and a community that simply could not. In the end you can point fingers at everyone, but the fact remains that the Islanders aren't the only ones moving out of the area. Time and again the people in charge of Hempstead have shown an unwillingness to stay with the times. Those in charge seem to believe that the nuclear family still runs the day, and even something as simple as installing cell phone towers to improve coverage have been shot down.
When the team settles in Brooklyn, it'll be the end of a lot of things. No more hearing about "the mausoleum," no more Pat Lafontaine buying the team rumors. It feels like a lot of the ghosts of the past should be buried. It will be a new beginning, with a young core of talented players who should be under contract until the end of the 2015-16 season, if not longer (depending on how the lockout goes and ELC slides).
Avoiding the Quebec Sentence
My greatest fear in all of this was what happened to Quebec. Not the "Isles to Quebec" rumors, but the story of the NHL in Quebec. So many miserable years for Nordique fans, including being made a laughingstock via Eric Lindros' ego, only to have them move to Colorado and win the Cup. There's something special about John Tavares, and it seems like he's going to just keep taking the team to higher and higher finishes.
I've been working lately in a wonderful retail job, so I get to hear pop radio all day. But the one time I perk up and listen to the music is when I hear the beginning of "Shake It Out" due to this wonderful Islanders video. When I hear the line "It's always darkest before the dawn" I can't help but think it's about to get better for us Islander fans.
Today's announcement feels like one of the brightest beams of light in a while for us. These last few years the good has been outweighed by the bad. But Tavares and Brooklyn are starting to light the way to the future.
I just want to be able to cheer for my team without having to hear a boatload of negatives. It's not "Long Island" in the traditional sense (geography aside), but that boat sailed long ago. We'll see how Brooklyn responds to the Nets this season, and hope that they embrace the Islanders just as much.
The Dynasty, Tonelli to Nystrom, Ferraro to Volek, Al Arbour, Dubie's stick poke, the history of the franchise is rich. Let's hope they don't pretend that the team didn't exist before getting to Brooklyn.
In the end though, it's incredible to imagine that the arena question has been going on for so long. I started watching the Islanders in '93, and I remember Millstein and Gluckstern constantly trying to maneuver the team out of it's lease. They were finally forced by a judge's ruling to keep the team playing and practicing at Nassau, when the lease was basically declared ironclad.
I jumped aboard Lighthouse Hockey during the unwatchable 2009-10 season. Some of you have been here during that whole time, but even more people have come and gone. Together though, it feels like we have been through it all, and I think closing on this Thomas Paine quote is apropos:
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.