By Peter Schwartz
This has certainly been an emotional season for the Islanders and their fans. As the team plays its 43rd and final campaign at the Nassau Coliseum before relocating to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season, the team is giving its longtime home quite a sendoff.
The team has honored its legendary and current players with mini locker and bobblehead giveaways, and will also welcome back other former players with special nights at the Coliseum. On the ice, the Islanders are giving the old barn a tremendous final season with a turn-back-the-clock type performance that has them in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
But this week, there will be an event that truly combines the Islanders’ past and present, and the subject will be the many great Coliseum memories and the team’s move to Brooklyn.
“Coliseum Conversation,” presented by The Lifestyle Sports and Entertainment Group, will take place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Madison Theatre on the campus of Molloy College in Rockville Centre.
“It was an idea of mine,” The Lifestyle Group founder and CEO Jared Gladstone said. “It gives the fans an opportunity to relive the memories that they had during the 43 years that the Islanders were (at the Coliseum).”
Among the former and current players expected to attend are Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Gerry Hart, Kyle Okposo, Jaroslav Halak, Matt Martin, Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, Casey Cizikas and Calvin de Haan.
The format for the night combines a talk-show atmosphere with a town-hall meeting.
There will be a host on stage who will bring out all of the players one by one, and fans will get their thoughts on what the Coliseum means to them and how they feel about the Islanders’ move to Barclays Center. Then, the fans will be able to ask the players questions. After the event, fans will get an autographed item from all of the players, as well as a group photo with the past and current Islanders.
“It’s a nice opportunity where generations could come out,” said Gladstone. “You have a father whose favorite player might be Bobby Nystrom or Clark Gillies, (and he) could bring his son who might idolize Kyle Okposo or Matt Martin and get that picture with all of them together. It’s something that they can cherish during one last year on Long Island.”
To help promote the event, Lifestyle enlisted the services of WWE superstar Daniel Bryan. His catchphrase has been adopted by Islanders fans, who chant “YES, YES, YES” after goals at the Coliseum.
Bryan dons an Islanders jersey in the promotional video for the event.
“It was kind of cool to see that the team that everyone pointed the finger at and laughed at is now getting a little celebrity status,” said Gladstone.
While the complete story of the Nassau Coliseum’s final chapter has not been written, Wednesday’s event will be a great opportunity for fans — both young and old — to relieve many great memories and discuss what lies ahead for the Islanders’ franchise.