Islanders relishing chance to welcome healthcare workers, fans back to Nassau Coliseum

Islanders Nassau Coliseum
The Islanders finally welcome fans back to the Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Islanders’ massive run of home games, with nine of their last 10 outings coming at Nassau Coliseum, comes to an end on Thursday night when they host the struggling New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET). But from a sentimentality standpoint, this one might mean more than any previous home game so far this season. 

The Coliseum will open its doors to 1,000 frontline healthcare workers —all of whom will be guests of the Islanders — to take in Thursday’s matchup. It will be the first time since March 7, 2020, that there will be fans at the “Old Barn,” allowing lifetime supporters to properly celebrate the team’s final season at the arena.

No more artificial crowd noise, no more blaring music booming down upon just sportswriters (including this one) to fill the silence. Just real, passionate fans.

“You get some energy with some people,” veteran forward Brock Nelson said. “It’ll be nice to give back [to healthcare workers] for everything they’ve done in the community. It’ll be fun, everyone will be amped up… real noise, nothing generated.”

Nassau Coliseum was the Islanders’ home from 1972-2015 before an unsuccessful move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn prompted a return to the recently-renovated arena. It’s just a placeholder, however, as their new home, UBS Arena at Belmont Park, opens its doors next season.

“For us to have our fans back in the building, it’s big for us,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “We like to feed off that momentum… I’m sure they’ll be there ready to bring the noise. We’ll look forward to that.”

Following a three-game road trip to New Jersey and Washington, D.C., the Islanders return home for a March 18 matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers where roughly 1,400 season-ticket holders and fans will be waiting for them.

“It will be nice, it really will,” head coach Barry Trotz said earlier this week. “There’s an energy that the fans bring to the players… that you can’t replicate. I know the NHL and TV is doing a great job providing that, but the in-rink experience will be needed for the players.”