12 July 2011
Although one couldn't tell from the beginning years of this franchise's existence, this team would indeed achieve greatness in accomplishing a feat which hasn't been repeated since it was done by them in the early 80s, win 4 Stanley Cups in a row. But before winning those Stanley Cups, the Islanders were terrible, achieving solely 31 wins in 156 NHL games.
However, this was a different time. It was a time when the Islanders didn't have a core, but different players put together through two drafts. It was a time when the Islanders weren't the Islanders, for they had to yet reach an identity of their own. However after a few years this identity came into place.
The Islanders created their identity through the drafts, with, general manager, Bill Torrey drafting goaltender Billy Smith in the 1972 expansion draft. Bobby Nystrom in the 1972 amateur draft. Denis Potvin in the 1973 amateur draft. Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier in the 1974 amateur draft, and last but definitely not least Mike Bossy and John Tonelli in the 1977 amateur draft.
With these 6 Islander legends, this team quickly rose through the ranks and reached the playoffs every year from the 1974/75 season to the 1987/88 season, during which they notoriously won 4 Stanley Cups in a row, as mentioned before, and also set the record for the most consecutive playoff series victories with 19.
Now, move forward 40 years and you have an Islander team trying to do the same as the team that was put together by Torrey 40 years ago. The Islanders are in the process of creating an identity for themselves, and similar to that team 40 years ago, the Islanders are doing it through the draft. Through the past few years the Islanders have stuck to a rebuild which is pointing to success by drafting players such as John Tavares, Nino Neiderreiter, Kyle Okposo, Calvin DeHaan, Travis Hamonic, Josh Bailey, and most recently Ryan Strome.
However the one difference that exists between the team of then, and the team of now is that while the Islanders of then had a brand new arena to play in, the Islanders of now are playing in what is being called by its own fans "The Old Barn". A referendum, which will take place on August 1st, has been put into place to vote for a new arena, and for Christ's sake I can't see a reason why people would vote no to it.
To help visualize the situation, I took a look at statistics and took down a few notes I decided to share with you. Currently, the Nassau Coliseum costs Nassau County $1.5 million a year. On the other hand, Nassau County also gains around $4 million on a yearly basis from the Coliseum. Another interesting statistic is that there are currently about 8% of Nassau County's residents who are unemployed. However, the most important fact which I found, is that if this referendum doesn't pass, the Coliseum will close its doors permanently. There will be no more Billy Joel concerts, no more WWE visits, no more hockey, no more anything.
With the new arena, that 8% of unemployment should decrease through the guaranteed generation of around 1,500 construction jobs, and 3,000 permanent jobs, which will also help stimulate the economy. The New Coliseum will also guarantee an annual gain to Nassau County of $18 million, a $14 million dollar difference. The new arena will also generate approximately $1.2 billion for Nassau County residents, which will be enough for arena construction, and bond cost, while still maintaining $403 million of profit. One more fact which residents should pay attention to is the development a new stadium would bring to the area which surround the Coliseum.
This further development will help construct more stores, and more importantly more jobs. Also, it's important to identify the contribution a new arena would give Hofstra University, which is located only a few blocks away from the current Coliseum. Hofstra already uses the Islanders to help attract students to attend their university, and having a brand new arena next door can do nothing but attract more students to the university.
For Islander fans debating on whether to vote yes or not, this team is headed towards future success. Do you really want to watch another city celebrate those future successes?
For Nassau County residents in general debating on whether to vote yes or not, if you won't vote yes on August 1st to maintain the only professional team Long Island has on Long Island, and you won't vote yes to keep the Nassau Coliseum open, then do it for your fellow residents. What will you say to your unemployed neighbor who has been desperately seeking a job for months, and whose only remaining option to keep a roof over his family's head and food on his family's table is this arena? "Sorry but I really don't feel like paying an extra $58 a year". $4.83 a month is all that stands between 4,500 unemployed residents having jobs, a new coliseum being built, and Long Island's only professional team being maintained.