The title above is very true and absolute. When it comes to the New York Islanders fans and it’s players, hockey games at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum mean only one word, family. When you’re with family, the heart grows a little bigger. There was an unfortunate incident involving some Washington Capitals fans after game 3 and it’s a really bad reflection on the Isles fan base as a whole. I would like to write a different side of the Islanders fan base to give the rest of the NHL fans a more realistic image of them (myself included).
The Islanders had their final home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 11th and of course I went to it, but I wanted to bring my brother Mark, a Rangers fan, to experience the last regular season game at the Coliseum. We were both born in Mineola NY, so we did have some Long Island roots and when we were kids, our dad used to take us to a few games. Over the years, my brother would come to an Isles playoff game or two with our uncle and cousin (also Islanders fans), just because it was a reason to hang out with family. So we drove to the Coliseum and of course, their was a tailgate waiting for us as we met up with a few of his Islanders friends, including Steve (Cousin?) & Nicole. I have to say, for just meeting them that day, they treated me like they’ve known me for years and when you want to talk hockey in general, they were just as passionate as everyone else there. The food was phenomenal, the games would’ve been better without the wind, as always, but it felt like being a part of a new family.
However around 5:30pm, my brother was determined to let Islanders fans know where his allegiances were, so he wore his Chris Kreider (the closest thing to our last name, Kreischer) New York Rangers jersey. For him it was a good move because before the Islanders game, the Rangers had defeated the Caps and as he said all afternoon to every Islanders fan that booed and heckled him and told him to go home, “We helped you guys out tonight, all you have to do is win!” Even “Entourages” star Kevin Connelly spotted my brother and was giving it to him, but in the end, like every other Islanders fan that day, they came up to my brother and either shook his hand or got a hug or two and said “Thank you!” Even when we were down four rows back of the Blue Jackets bench, a few season ticket holders, who had been drinking long before and during the game, shook hands with him and said thank you because for once, the Rangers actually helped the Islanders out that night (Editors note: video was not taken of these events, so the Isles fans who were cordial with my Rangers brother can deny any of this, even Kevin so your prides are intact).
Coming to the Coliseum, or any NHL game has always been a family experience for everyone. I’ve seen many fans from other teams come in to the old barn and get gently heckled, and all they do is smile and keep walking. It’s expected. This was an isolated, unfortunate incident. If you’re a future opponent of the Islanders, I recommend you tailgate to get that sense of family and yes even though you may get heckled, you deserve it, but you should not feel threatened. Had SMG actually put up security cameras (Oh wait, that costs money too?) this incident would’ve been dealt with differently and no other Islanders fans would have welcomed back the idiots who performed such acts. However, to SMG, you better be more ready if the Islanders and Rangers play each other in the next round because two families that don’t like each other will be coming together and there will be more passion, drinking, heated trash talking and possibly more from the idiots of both sides who will try to ruin what will be a great series for the ages, so you better be ready. No one wants to remember a great hockey series because it’s fan base were known for vandalizing and threatening language. Let the players take care of things on the ice. With that said, a better example like the last regular season home game needs to be present at both the Coliseum and at the Garden so that families will be able to share in the good and bad memories. Lord knows we’ll be reminded of all the bad ones.
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