Former Islanders have mixed feelings about leaving Nassau Coliseum
Mike Bossy had one question for Charles Wang when the Islanders owner informed one of the franchise's greatest players Wednesday morning that the team would be leaving Nassau Coliseum for Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2015.
"I asked him, 'Is my banner coming, too?' " Bossy, the team's vice president of business development, said Wednesday after the Brooklyn news conference. "I'm extremely pleased for [Wang]. There's no doubt there's some mixed feelings with the success we had as a team in the Coliseum and the success I had personally there, but life goes on."
"You're kidding," said Denis Potvin, the captain of the 1980-83 Cup teams and currently a broadcaster for the Ottawa Senators, when informed of the news by The Hockey News. "Even though my relationship with the Islanders is very minimal, I was a big supporter of them trying to get the vote for [a new arena last summer] and keep the team in Uniondale. But one thing about Mr. Wang, he likes a lot of control and obviously he's not willing to give up the franchise, which is a good thing for continuity. Maybe they can better position themselves to be competitive in that building. That's the best I can hope for."
Bill Torrey, the general manager and architect of the championship teams, also expressed shock when reached at his home in Florida. Torrey is still an adviser for the Panthers.
"I've heard rumors this was under consideration but it's a bit of a surprise, frankly," Torrey said.
Bossy has been a part of the Islanders' business and community development program for several years, so he is well aware of the shortcomings of the Coliseum and the long road Wang has traveled to try and start construction on a new arena.
He said he will be sad for the Islanders to leave Nassau and the old barn in which so much history was made.
"But whatever you did is always in your heart, in your memories," Bossy said. "That never changes."