The New York Islanders expect to open the 2021-22 season with a long road trip while preparation for the opening of their new arena at Belmont Park is completed.
That was the word from GM Lou Lamoriello during his post-season media availability.
What the timetable is remains “fluid,” Lamoriello said, and even as the Islanders closed out — maybe? — their last games at Nassau Coliseum (for real this time?), many wondered whether they would play some games there next season while USB Arena is completed.
But Lamoriello seemed to quash that idea Tuesday.
Lou: I do expect us to be on the road at the beginning of the year. We have not seen our schedule.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) June 29, 2021
Adds #Isles are fortunate to have other teams in area to play road games - Flyers, etc.
Anticipates a Western trip, though.
Opening date at UBS Arena is a "moving target."
Lamoriello expects #Isles to be on road to start season. Close proximity to other teams will make it less taxing. Has not seen schedule yet. Opening of UBS Arena is moving target.— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) June 29, 2021
The Islanders certainly have an advantage over the majority of teams in the league in that, as Lamoriello noted, they have so many teams a short distance away from home. So if they knocked out a traditional Western road trip early and then also compiled games against teams in the east, they might not feel the same effects as other teams that have hit the road due to new arenas or, well, circuses.
Overall, if they can pull this off, it’s for the best. The Coliseum has seen a pretty fine farewell — albeit short of the long-sought fifth Cup — with two exciting wins in the conference final and Anthony Beauvillier’s overtime goal in Game 6 being its potentially last Isles moment.
The Isles have built a lot of hype for the opening of their long-awaited new arena, and have reported selling out their stack of regular season tickets. They’ll want to be able to deliver a full product to those subscribers — and the always-important corporate partners and luxury box occupants — that includes a full regular season schedule.
(And as for preseason games, Lamoriello said any home preseason games would be played in Bridgeport.)
No doubt Lou is checking every day for updates and plans on arena construction. The date of the opener is a “moving target,” but the desired target is very clear.