If Arena Certainty is the final thing keeping John Tavares from saying “yes, let’s get the contract extension done now,” then Sunday’s exhibition return to the New York Islanders’ original and flawed stomping grounds was a fitting symbol of What Could Be, or What Could Have Been, or What May Yet Still Become, depending on your view.
The Islanders left Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum and all of its long-running flaws after 2015 because ownership and local government and lease wielders could never agree on what to replace it with.
They returned to a refurbished but still mind-bogglingly inadequate [now sponsored in many ways] Coliseum on Sunday afternoon for a preseason game that ended, appropriately, with a John Tavares overtime winner over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Maybe the Isles will finally get the hockey-suitable and large-revenue-league-appropriate venue they’ve always needed, if news and the political process (gulp) in Belmont works out. If that happens in a timely manner, maybe Tavares stays in New York to finish what he started with the blue and orange.
In the Islanders’ 3-2 overtime win, Tavares’ winner was his second goal of the game, capping off a comeback from a 2-0 deficit. The other Islanders goal was scored by Mathew Barzal, the latest top prospect who really does have the potential to be an outstanding second center behind Tavares.
That’s a whole lot of storybook symbology for a first preseason game. And since it was, in fact, only an early preseason skirmish, we’ll stop there. Might as well soak it in and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
Tavares: "This fan base has got a tremendous identity. They don't lose hold of that. As players, we recognize that." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) September 17, 2017