To Do or Die On Long Island
I took this picture in 1983 at a parade honoring the Stanley Cup Champion New York Islanders. I want to be able to take a picture like this again. I want another moment just like this one.
Tomorrow, we find out if that opportunity will ever come.
Tomorrow is Election Day in Nassau County. It’s Election Day for hockey. Election Day for the New York Islanders.
Tomorrow, the voters of Nassau County decide the fate of the Islanders and their future here.
I’ve spent a lot of time the past few months being a bit evangelical about this. I’ve campaigned, I’ve lectured, I’ve fought and I’ve talked to anyone who would listen about how this is about more than hockey. It’s about quality of life.
But here, among sports fans, I can talk about the hockey.
The Islanders have played in the Nassau Coliseum since 1972. That’s all but ten years of my life. They are part of my Long Island heritage. They are part of my life. For 39 years, the team has played professional hockey practically in my backyard. I could get in my car fifteen minutes before game time and be in my seat with a pretzel and Coke before the puck drops.
For four years, I had a hockey dynasty playing five minutes from my house. For 39 years, the hockey team I love has known no home but the Nassau Coliseum. And now they are in danger of losing that home. Their fate partly lies in the hand of people who don’t care about hockey, who don’t care about Stanley Cups or local team pride.
Yes, it’s about more than hockey. But the hockey part is what’s going to hurt first if the vote doesn’t pass. I’ll deal with the quality of life thing later. I’ll deal with the domino effect of closing businesses in my neighborhood later. But I don’t know how I’ll deal with no hockey. I don’t know how I’ll spend the next three seasons watching a rising, hopeful team knowing they’re going to leave in 2015.
I want to see another Stanley Cup parade on Long Island. I want to drive past the Nassau Coliseum every day on my way to work, look at it with pride and say “That’s where my team plays.” I want to continue going to games, cheering for my team, wearing the jersey with Long Island on it.
That’s why I’ll be at my polling place most of the day tomorrow (at least 100 feet away, of course) handing out literature, educating the fence-sitters and maybe getting into a few heated arguments with the opposition.
You can try to take my hockey team from me, but I won’t let you do it without a fight.