Islanders ask fans to support referendum

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang speaks to

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang speaks to the hundreds who turned out to rally for voters to vote yes on a new Nassau Coliseum. (July 27, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Islanders players and general manager Garth Snow gathered on stage to encourage voters to show their support for Monday's referendum to build a new Coliseum.

Matt Moulson, Ty Wishart, Rick DiPietro and former Islander Eric Cairns asked more than a thousand Islanders fans at Wednesday's rally to help push through a proposal that would give the team a much-needed new arena.

The Islanders have had trouble attracting free agents to the decaying Nassau Coliseum.

"On some level, it is a hindrance to us becoming a great team if we can't attract the top players," said Moulson, who has had back-to-back seasons of 30 goals or more.

DiPietro, who was drafted by the Islanders first overall in 2000, has seen this become a trend during his tenure with the team.

"That's a huge thing when you're trying to attract free agents," he said. "When free agents haven't necessarily seen enough besides the building to know that Long Island is a beautiful place to live -- one of the top destinations -- that makes it hard on and Garth [Snow]."

Snow offered more money to top free-agent defensemen Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis last July, but they signed elsewhere. This summer, he offered more in annual average salary to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who went to Buffalo instead.

The Islanders have missed the playoffs the past four seasons, which also hurts their pursuit of free agents. The ambiguity surrounding the team's future is another factor.

"The uncertainty is an issue," Snow said. "Professional athletes who are looking to set down their roots want to know where they are going to be two, five, 10 years down the road. The uncertainty is definitely a deterrent. That's not debatable, it's a fact."

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