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[Official Now] Home Again Homecoming: Islanders to play postseason and next season at Coliseum

Governor Cuomo was on hand at the Islanders-Bruins game to make the announcement.

A report in Newsday on Friday made real what many Islanders fans had been hoping for.

According to writer Randi Marshall, an announcement will be made before Saturday’s game against the Bruins that the Islanders will play any playoff games this season, as well as all of next season, at Nassau Coliseum, while their new arena at Belmont Park is finished.

The announcement will be made by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who has long taken an interest in the Islanders’ hunt to build themselves a forever home on Long Island. This marks the third or fourth time the governor has appeared at an arena-related team event, which is still very odd to see if you’ve been following this saga for as long as many of us have.

This arrangement has apparently been a long time coming, even as the Islanders decided to split their home games between the Coliseum and Barclays Center last year.

Per Newsday:

The push for the Islanders to play games at the Coliseum until Belmont was built started when the plans for Belmont were first announced in late 2017, Long Island Association chief executive Kevin Law noted in a statement.

Cuomo had previously arranged for the Islanders to split their home games during the last two seasons between the Coliseum and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

After Newsday’s report was posted, NHL reporter John Shannon confirmed it with the league.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had long said that a semi-permanent move back to the Coliseum would be unlikely as the 49-year old arena simply isn’t a major league facility anymore. It’s believed that updates have been made that bring the old barn a little closer to something resembling the standard that NHL teams need to play - and, more importantly, broadcast - playoff games. Nassau County executive Laura Curran has been lobbying Bettman for over a year to get the NHL to okay a move back to the Coliseum and told Newsday, “This isn’t just what the fans want - it’s what the players and the organization want too.”

Their return to Uniondale in a regular season game last December was a triumphant, raucous party. The split venue schedule worked for the most part, and the Islanders’ record in Brooklyn has been pretty good over the last five years. But playing the first round of the playoffs (which the Islanders won) at the Coliseum and the second round (which the Islanders lost) at Barclays left many feeling that choosing one or the other for future post season games made more sense. Between the smaller capacity, broadcasting inadequacies and lack of luxury boxes, few thought the Coliseum would win out in that scenario. It seems that it indeed has.

This also would mean that the team’s final games at Barclays Center will all be this month. March 3rd vs. Montreal, March 17th vs Calgary and March 22 vs. Carolina. After that, the Islanders’ jaunt to Brooklyn will be but a memory. But we’ll save that retrospective for another time.

The Islanders’ arena at Belmont Park is currently under construction and will be finished prior to the 2021-22 season. You can watch it being built right here.

No word yet on whether the announcement will be made before, during or after Butch Goring’s number retirement ceremony, which is also happening before the Bruins’ game. Let’s hope the Bruins will be so cowed by the pomp and circumstance of the moment that they’ll be too frightened to even play.

Update: It’s official now, thanks to a press conference carried by MSG Networks following the number retirement. Governor Cuomo spoke for a few minutes about how important it was to him and the team to get the Islanders back to Long Island, then announced that the NHL has given the okay to play all of the playoff games this season and all of next season at the Coliseum.

Cuomo said that the updates to the arena cost the state about $6 million, and passed muster enough for the NHL to give their approval.

Here’s the official statement from the NHL:

Cuomo was flanked by the Islanders’ legends, commissioner Bettman, owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky, and it was clear that everyone was pretty excited by the news. We know a lot of fans are excited, too. Sounds like the current Islanders feel the same way.

Here’s video of the press conference: