Anders Lee is hoping for one thing when next season does finally begin for the Islanders.
Lee, who played an instrumental role in the Isles getting to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, wants to give the Nassau Coliseum one last great run.
The Islanders and their fans weren’t granted the opportunity to bask in the team’s postseason success inside The Barn because of the coronavirus pandemic. There were no day-long pregame tailgates; no postgame celebrations or loud honking of “Let’s Go Islanders” in the parking lot; no “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chants or ringing out of the Josh Bailey song as they left the building. Instead, they had to settle for social media posts and video boards in the corners of the arena in the two bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. It was a tough pill to swallow for the simple fact that the Islanders had got farther in any season of date in the past 27 years.
“It was a bummer not to be able to come back to the Coli and all those things and have them at our backs,” Lee said during his end of the season media availability yesterday. “Anyone who’s been to a playoff game at the Coliseum, you leave that night feeling energized,”
It’s hard not to see why Lee is so adamant about wanting to give the Coliseum one great last sendoff.
Before the pandemic hit, the Isles had played nearly all of their home games during the regular season on Long Island. The organization had also announced they were slated to play all of their home games for this coming season at the Coliseum before they move into their brand new digs at UBS Arena for the 2021-22 season after they’d been bouncing around the last five years between Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the refurbished Coliseum, which they came back to during the 2018-19 season. But more so, it was these playoffs reinforced why the Coliseum should get one last shining moment.
This current core has yet to experience that thrill. And they need to have it
We can reminisce about the 2013 first-round series with Pittsburgh, the pulsating seven-game series with Washington back in 2015, and the sweep of the Penguins in the opening round in 2019. But those bear in comparison to what this team did over a two-month span, let alone what they did back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Putting their proverbial stamp on the nearly 50 years the franchise has called the place home would be the perfect final chapter in the rich history of the Coliseum.
Now whether that’s with or without fans is another question. The NHL hasn’t given a confirmation on when next season will begin — reports have them starting up in January — and whether fans will be allowed into games. Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said last week he anticipates fans being back in February. If that’s the case, then the Isles and their fans will get the opportunity for a solid two months, and possibly more if the team reaches the postseason again to make a few final lasting memories inside the Coliseum.
However things proceed though, the Islanders’ captain is looking forward to one final ride in their old home before they begin a new era at their new one.
“We are all going to enjoy the heck out of the Coliseum and try to give it another phenomenal ride and see where it goes.”