Nassau Coliseum Referendum Vote: Are the New York Islanders Movin' Out?

Thomas HolmesCorrespondent IIIAugust 2, 2011

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 29:  The New York Islanders  banners honoring the retired jerseys of Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom and Bill Smith are shown during the game against the Ottawa Senators on January 29, 2008 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The voters have spoken.  The referendum vote for the Islanders to get a new arena has failed.

I think we all saw this coming.

Growing up on Long Island, a couple miles north off Exit 66 on the LIE, I will confess that I'm old enough to remember Hurricane Gloria, Grumman and the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, but young enough to not have any real positive memories of the Islanders. 

I just missed out on the halcyon days, as Potvin, Bossy, Trottier and the rest of the crew were nothing more than old black and white clippings from Newsday.  

During grade school I had friends and family telling me constantly how great the Isles were, yet I never could see it both literally and figuratively.  I liked hockey well enough, yet I didn't have any favorite Islander players and oddly saw more Hartford Whaler games on TV as my dad refused to pay for cable.

I suppose either way I was doomed, unless I wanted to root for the Rangers, but that wouldn't become a fashionable choice until I was in high school.  At any rate, the Isles mystique never registered and for that matter the same could be said of another Long Island icon...Billy Joel.

Blasphemous?  Perhaps, but understand that both came into my consciousness at a time that didn't serve either well in the long run.   Consider the parallels...

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In the '70s they were scuffling, but fun to watch as they worked their way towards something special with some truly bright moments.

During the '80s they hit the big time by delivering their best work early on, yet started to lose their edge as the decade progressed.

By the '90s they continued to regress, occasionally showing flashes of brilliance, but nothing sustainable that would leave the impression they were capable of turning the corner.

Finally, in the last decade, the wheels came off.  Both would try to keep up appearances, but at times proved really painful to watch.   

Their best work long behind them and living off their rep from decades before, fans were often left at a loss in wondering what could be done.  

Sadly there isn't much to do at this point, at least for the Islanders. 

It's all too common as I've seen this happen in Hartford, most recently in Seattle with the Sonics, and picture it unfolding in the next year or two in Sacramento. 

At the same time, as fans, you deserve better.  For anyone over the age of 35 you have your memories coupled with two decades of disappointment.  For anyone younger you have no idea what a professional hockey team should look like.  All of you have been duped, toyed with, and now officially screwed.  It's not so much a franchise as an unhealthy relationship anyone with a would have fled from years ago. 

Meanwhile your neighbors as taxpayers were never going to save the Islanders in this or any other economy, so no point in blaming them.  The referendum was simply a clever ploy by all the key decision makers to shift the blame and responsibility on someone else.  "The voters have spoken!"   

As the "Piano Man" himself once sang, "Don't look for answers. You took your chances.  Don't ask me why." 

I hate to say it Islander fans, but it's time to cut bait. 


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