Do Not Take the Coliseum For Granted: An Ode To Fort Neverlose

Do not go quietly. - Mike Stobe

If you love an Islander fan, you know they are not all there in the head, but they make up for it with their heart.

If you are an Islander fan, you hate to admit it, but they are right.

We will give our lifeblood to a team that has dragged us through threats of relocation, backup goaltenders morphing into GMs, and a commitment to unproven talent and mediocrity.

Last summer I was at a bar with my three Islander fan friends. I have about 45-50 Yankee Fan Friends and Family members, 20-30 Giant fan friends and family members, and 10-15 terriblefriends and former family members who are horrific people and root for the Rangers. I have 3 Islander fan friends.

I thought it was going to be a night where we talked about how when the lockout ended we'd sneak into the playoffs and get all ramped up about our Lord and Savior Johnny Christ. Anytime I can devote a whole night's worth of conversation to the Islanders (or silly things my dog does), I am truly at peace.

But as it turned out, my friend had gathered us to explain that he couldn't press on with it. He was handing in his resignation from Islander Country.

He was ashamed but we told him he's not alone and is forgiven. Who could blame him? We were in the middle of a stupid lockout. Our team has been rebuilding since the last lockout. We hadn't a long-term home yet.

He told us he was just going to focus his attention on his Knicks, Mets, and Giants. We understood. Its not an easy existence and every Islander fan has been where he was. On the edge. He just decided to sail away, his pain is over.

There is a glimmer in the distance now. We have found a home, even if it was two boroughs West.

The Islanders and their fans have written their entire history in the same place -- The Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum.

And if you are an Islander fan, and/or have been to the Coliseum with one, you know that Nassau Coliseum serves as a perfect metaphor for your Islander fan's existence.

It's not all there in the head. But it's heart is one of pure gold.

Pretty much any arena in the NHL meets a certain mold. They're big, spacious, mallish, and shiny.

This is Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum.

Fans don't drool over our chow. They get bumped around in our concourses. They wiggle in our small, unforgiving chairs.

But if you can look past its shortcomings, you will see how beautiful and pure it is.

I once brought a college friend -- a Bruins' fan to see the Isles take on the Lightning. There were probably 11,500 people there. We weren't out of the playoff race yet, but we weren't in it either. We had seats for somewhere in the upper upper bowl, where a good view of the scoreboard was never taken for granted. You can see every patch of ice from every seat in the coliseum. However in the 19 dollar seats you can't see the scoreboard. Oh, and if you can pass off for being a student you'll pay even less. I would say if one really committed to it, they could find someone giving away seats in the Islander box office without a problem. I've been on line several times when a gracious soul has given me tickets.

Oh, and may I also add we know an amazing way to get free parking that the team hasn't quite figured out yet, so there's that, too.

He was already floored at how little it cost him. 16 bucks for parking and a ticket to this point. Unreal.

During the intermission he commented on how small it was. And how it was more of a rink than an arena.

It's just an old barn, I told him. Its a beautiful, untarnished, building that couldn't be more perfect if it tried.

I wouldn't trade the Coliseum for any other arena in all of sports.

You can keep your LED Big Screen Scoreboards and your celebrity chef inspired restaurants, I'll keep my sight-lines.

Upon first hearing the news that we were moving to Brooklyn, a sense of relief came over me. I called the most important people in my life to let them know it was finally over. It was a day on which my girlfriend told me she was "proud of me." I don't know if I deserved that but I got where she was coming from. It wasn't easy living under threats of Kansas City, Quebec, or Seattle.

A little while later I became a little upset. It wouldn't be the same.

It took me a few more hours before I realized, this isn't about losing the Islanders. Its about losing the Coliseum.
Its about losing the organ and the goal horn.

Its about cars honking "Let's go Islanders" after a big win becoming a thing of the past.

These are the things that will be missed when the Islanders move west. The fans will still show up, the players will be donning the same jerseys with the same logo on the front. The colors will be as orange and blue as ever, but it won't be the same.

Fortunately, we have time to say goodbye. The Islanders don't vacate the premises until 2015-2016, and with the team constructed the way it is, these next three seasons could be some of the most exciting in two decades.

We have time to make sure all the things about the Coliseum that we may have taken for granted before, we appreciate. We have time to invite outsiders in and show them what the Coliseum is really all about.

I have brought about a dozen people to the Coliseum from out of town. They were all good hockey people. The kind you can bring home to Bossy you know? They all loved it. They were taken aback by it. It was the most beautiful thing they've ever seen, I'm sure of it.

They may still poke fun about the concourse or the fact the lights in the upper bowl didn't work, but that's okay -- that's all part of the Coliseum experience. It's not perfect, because it doesn't try to be.

I hope Islander fans that may feel betrayed by Charles Wang and the team get over that fast. I hope their anger doesn't get in the way of them enjoying professional sports on Long Island one last time.

Most of all, I hope my fellow Islander fans can realize that this move is not about saying goodbye to the Islanders, they aren't moving very far.

This move is about saying goodbye to the place we called home for the last 40 years.

The Coliseum deserves a proper send off -- and we need to make sure it gets just that. Pack her to the gills and make sure good times see her out.

We now are faced with a shortened season, 24 games (plus-playoffs!) this year and then 82 (plus-playoffs!!!) over the next two. That's 106 (I am lazy about math so if I'm wrong, my bad) games left. Get to all you can, bring outsiders in.

Let them see how truly special this place is.

Islander fans will miss Nassau Coliseum. When she meets her ruthless demise, the rest of the league may say, "Well, it was a dump anyways," or it's about time." We will just remember, to those who understand, those who do not -- matter none.

May Potvin Lead You In.

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