I don’t have a real affinity for the New York Islanders. Great jerseys, ones they should have never abandoned, but other than that, whatever. Barry Trotz is maybe the best at getting his players to buy into his system, which is why it works so well, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that entertaining to watch, and it’s just about the most simple one around. The real credit should usually go to his goalie coach, Mitch Korn, who seems to get Vezina-level play from whoever is around wherever Trotz goes. It wouldn’t be good for neutrals and the league as a whole if the Islanders reach the Final or, god forbid, win it and have more teams trying to copy the defensive brand of hockey than there already are. Also, Lou Lamoriello is an asshole of epic proportions and will break this team up just as soon as anyone wants to get paid more than a button.
But my lord, do I want to keep hearing Islanders games at Nassau Coliseum.
No other setting sounds like this. Just listen to it throughout these highlights.
It’s not a constant buzz. Or even a constant roar. It’s a constant jet engine. A constant bar brawl that just happens to be aimed at the ice without the actual brawl (though I wouldn’t doubt there was one or two in the concourse). It’s Long Island chaos, and it’s what every arena should sound like. It’s what Canadians will tell you their buildings sound like during the playoffs, except no Canadain teams ever make the playoffs and no fans are allowed when they do. And even when it does happen, you can just insert a “Go (blank) Go” chant everywhere. Fuck off.
Nassau is obviously a unique circumstance, and one we’re going to lose for a second time after this playoff run is over. First, it’s an absolute toilet. But it’s a small toilet, which makes everyone feel right up close. The roof pretty much sits in touching distance to the last row, so it holds everything in. There’s no way the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park will duplicate it, simply because it’s just going to be a bigger building.
But it’s more than just the building. Isles fans make it an event, gassing up in the parking lot for hours before sweating and yelling it off inside a building that is basically sweating and farting itself. Maybe it’s the connection between a team and such a small metro area. The Isles are something of a neighborhood team, much in the way the Green Bay Packers are and the Brooklyn Nets would like to pretend they are for marketing purposes. There’s probably no other team that feels like it belongs to an area more than the Isles. Which is why their move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was always doomed. The players hated it, the fans hated it, and those in Brooklyn barely noticed they were there. It’s like what Walter O’Malley said about the Dodgers when Robert Moses was trying to shove his team into Queens. “We’re the Brooklyn Dodgers. And whether we’re three miles outside Brooklyn or 3,000, we’re not going to be the Brooklyn Dodgers.”
Well, the Islanders weren’t the Islanders in Brooklyn. This is what they are, backed by nearly psychotic noise from fans who feel the game with every fiber to the point that former legends are crushing beer cans against their heads before they return to the parking lot to have the ugliest sex imaginable in the back of a Buick (hairy asses everywhere).
I’ve written it many times before, but I’m convinced one of the biggest reasons for the rising popularity of European soccer in this country is the sound. It’s the first thing I bet most of the uninitiated notice when they relent and join their buddies for a game in the living room or the bar. It’s just different, and you have to find out why it’s so different.
I wish more places sounded like Nassau. We’ll get at least two more games of it. Should probably just enjoy it.
This is a plea for TNT. When you take on NHL broadcasts duties next season, please double Kevin Harlan’s duties. We want him on hockey. Sure, he’s never done it in the past, but he’s a pro. Wouldn’t take him long. Mike Tirico was able to become a serviceable play-by-play guy.
It’s hard to believe Harlan has had his fastball for 25 years or so now, ever since he started bleeding into the national consciousness doing Timberwolves games. Harlan has somehow always thread that needle of not overshadowing the game and yet punctuating big moments with his genuine excitement (one Gus Johnson frequently tripped over in order to celebrate himself). I just want to hear Harlan call a big playoff goal once. That’s all I need, He still sounds as good as he did when he was yelling for Kevin Garnett to “RISE AND WALK YOUNG MAN!”
C’mon TNT. There’s little point in picking up hockey if you’re just going to import all the NBC guys and provide the same product. Put your own little spin on it. Just one fix.