UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Clark Gillies and Bob Nystrom returned to Nassau Coliseum, which was home to New Yorkers for their four straight Stanley Cup championships from 1980-1983.
Now updated and part of NYCB Live, it will be home again when the Islands host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday in the first 21 home matches played there this season.
"I've never seen that old place look so good," said Gillies, who played for 12 seasons for Island teams, including in four teams that won the Cup. "I think the fans will be big winners. This place is very beautiful. They have done a lot of great work in it."
After a failed attempt to guard the Islands in Nassau County, they left the Coliseum, their home since joining the NHL in 1972, when their lease ended after the 2014-15 season and moved to Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Coliseum has undergone a renovation of $ 165 million and has 13,900 fans for hockey, down from 16,234 before moving.
In January, it was announced that the Islands would return to their original homes for 60 matches (now 61; their matches against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 28 have been moved from Barclays Center) through the NHL 2020-21 season. The State of New York then committed $ 6 million in increases at the Coliseum to meet NHL requirements, specifically investment in ice plant redundancy and dehumidification, and media infrastructure and cable broadcasting.
The Islanders, who are scheduled to move to the new arena in Belmont Park in Elmont, New York to start the NHL season 2021-22, donated an additional $ 4 million to renovate their locker rooms and facilities.
Gillies and Nystrom, who played all of his 14 NHL seasons with Islanders from 1972-86, toured the upgrade room on Wednesday.
"It's really fantastic," said Nystrom, who got the Archipelago dynasty starting at the Coliseum with overtime goals in the Game of the 1980 Stanley Stanley Final Final against the Philadelphia Flyers. "We have so many memories here. Only in talking with the fans, they are really happy that the team came back here to play some games. This makes it easier for young players to come and watch the team. I & # 39 ; I am happy, I think this will be an extraordinary thing for Long Island.
"You see all the buildings that have been replaced: Boston, Buffalo, Penguin … they are so tight in those days that they just feel a little different. To come back here and see the current and that way, it will be fantastic."
The team is also excited now.
Captain of the island Anders LeeThe first full NHL season was the last at the Coliseum. He was in the lineup for two of their three home matches against the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a series that lost the Islands in seven matches.
"I'm surprised the roof is still there," Lee said. "I can't tell you how many matches we won that year just because we had a crowd momentum behind us. A good shift turned into three with such momentum, that kind of energy in that building. The whole season, home advantage ice is probably the most real, I really see it.
"Back to that, it would be interesting to go back to that a little. Obviously in the playoffs, it was brought to a different level."
The island coach Barry Trotz is on the other side of the series as the capital's coach. He remembers the decibel level achieved by the Coliseum for Games 3, 4 and 6.
"I'm happy for the people on the island," Trotz said. "I think it will be a special day. It will be special to go back there. I think it's the right place for that. It feels right."
Even with new seats, a new coat of paint and improved facilities, Gillies is very happy that the Coliseum has the same feeling. The memories came back when he walked past the door.
"We went up and down the halls many times," Gillies said. "Entering and leaving the hall a thousand times, and most of the time we go in and out of there, we celebrate victory. This is a special place for all of us who play on that team. Glad to be back. It's very interesting to have the Islands back to the house where they are.
"This will be a different experience for fans here at the Coliseum at Barclays Center. I'm happy. I can't wait."