Billy Joel plays the final show there on August 4, 2015 but, on April 27, 2015, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum officially became a Mausoleum.
The New York Islanders were defeated by the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference playoffs’ first round. Twenty eight years later, the Caps avenged the Easter Miracle, when the Isles defeated them on their home ice in the 4th Sudden Death Overtime of the decisive game. Islanders fans were not only denied another chance to rock the old barn, but also denied one last playoff rivalry in the building against the New York Rangers. Turns out I was not only at the last Islanders-Rangers regular season game, but the last Islanders-Rangers playoff game – when the ‘Icelanders’ were swept out of the postseason in Game 4.
That was in 1994.
In all likelihood, I will not step foot in the Coliseum between now and ‘Piano Man’. Thus, things become reflective. Seeing the circus as a kid – meaning that the circus train would pass through my backyard on the way. My friend spit on the Iron Sheik’s head there, my first wrestling live event out of maybe a dozen. Saw The Rock beat Chris Jericho for the WCW Title there, but Billy Joel & Elton John was the best tag team performance I’ve seen there (and I’ve seen The British Bulldogs & The Rockers do their thing). Paul McCartney was the best concert I ever saw there – that was history to me. First time I saw the Harlem Globetrotters was there as was my first rodeo – and I mean rodeo, though my first date was there too.
New York Islanders games go back to the mid-1980’s, just after those four consecutive Stanley Cup victories. For me, that was about two solid decades of watching them lose. Sure, they made the playoffs in those first ten years or so – but no championships. The aforementioned 1994 playoff loss to the Rangers was followed by 8 years of awful. When they finally got back in 2002, I had already moved to Florida and back. I was so pumped, I got interviewed for Maple Leaf TV in Toronto.
They lost that series to Toronto. And the subsequent series in subsequent years. The New York Islanders haven’t won a playoff series since 1993. I remember. I was listening on the radio in the parking lot of a Garden City Bennigan’s – which I only assume went out of business due to the lack of television games showing local sporting events.
Section 218, Row L, Seat 2 was where I spent over one hundred Islanders games. One I wasn’t there for (out of about twenty) my sister won a trip to Cancun in that seat (she was only 11, so she couldn’t go). I caught plenty a t-shirt there fired by a canon shot by an Ice Girl on a zamboni. I’m fairly certain this was because we would make eye contact from fifty yards away, but I’ll never know because I didn’t have the chutzpah to talk to her. Pat LaFonaine was the most exciting player I ever saw wear the home uniform. Jaiomir Jagr was the most exciting player I saw enter that building period. Not Wayne Gretzky. Not Mario Lemieux.
As I’m writing this blog, I realize that it’s just turning into a rambling flood of memories. So I will stop. This is the end.