Delmar executive Frank Bello, Isles' season-ticket holder.

Delmar executive Frank Bello, Isles' season-ticket holder. Credit: Frank Bello

Frank Bello grew up an Islanders fan on Long Island, spending time at Nassau Coliseum during the Stanley Cup era in the 1980s and being among the delirious crowd for the last NHL game at the venerable barn in June, a 3-2 overtime win over the Lightning in Game 6 of the NHL semifinals.

And now that the Islanders have opened their long-awaited UBS Arena, the 58-year-old former Marine from Garden City is seeing his professional life and his fandom intersect. It’s actually in plain sight every time Bello, the president of Delmar International USA and a season-ticket holder, glances at the Islanders’ logo at center ice.

Just below the home team’s logo, between the blue line and the red line, is the Delmar banner. The Canadian-based transportation logistics company is one of eight companies with an on-ice corporate sponsorship at UBS Arena.

Corporate sponsorships, of course, are not unusual; they are a part of doing business in the NHL. But having a Canadian-based firm with a sponsorship relationship with the Montreal Canadiens dating back decades also tied to the Islanders is unique.

Delmar’s former vice president of sales is former NHL player Mathieu Darche, now a candidate to be the Canadiens’ new general manager. The company’s current VP of sales is the son of former Canadiens president Ronald Corey.

To Bello, though, a corporate sponsorship with the Islanders seemed logical despite the company’s long and ongoing association with the Canadiens.

"It made sense for a New York boy," Bello said. "We wanted to expand our NHL presence. We tried to put together a deal together last season at the Coliseum. It’s been a long time coming."

Delmar executive Frank Bello, Isles' season-ticket holder.

Delmar executive Frank Bello, Isles' season-ticket holder. Credit: Frank Bello

This week was supposed to be an eventful one for Delmar, Bello and the company’s other executives as the Islanders were scheduled to host the Canadiens this past Monday night. The company’s Canadian-based executives were supposed to be at UBS Arena, watch the match from a suite and then gather on the ice after the game to take photos around the Delmar banner.

But the NHL temporarily postponed games between U.S. and Canadian teams because of the leaguewide COVID-19 outbreak. Bello said the company outing was postponed even before the game was.

"We were so excited to bring the executive team down and get on the ice and take photos," Bello said. "No one was more disappointed. But we had to make a decision. We have to put our money where our mouths are and show employees we’re being responsible. We really hope this is going to be fast-moving, the new variant, so we can get the executive team down and do a rescheduled night."

Whenever that night is able to happen, Bello said he will not have conflicted rooting interests.

"My loyalties go to the Isles," said Bello, who joined the Marines directly after graduating St. Agnes and was on active duty, mainly in Asia, until 1984. "I’m a Delmar senior team member in the U.S. and there’s no question within our team. The flag has been planted there."

‘Kind of a mess’

Anthony Beauvillier grew up just outside of Montreal in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. Naturally, playing against the Canadiens is always a highlight for Beauvillier.

But Monday’s postponement because of the temporary cessation of travel across the U.S.-Canada border just spoke to a bigger issue for Beauvillier and his countrymen. At one point during the pandemic, it was very hard for Canadian-born players in the U.S. to travel home to see family. It’s possible that travel again will be severely restricted between the countries.

But last Monday, as the team pivoted to holding its last practice before the NHL’s extended holiday break that concludes at 2 p.m. Sunday, Beauvillier said he was not dwelling on what-if scenarios.

"It’s pretty much the same for everyone," he said. "My family is doing OK as of today. A couple of cases. Back in Canada, it’s been kind of a mess. But it is what it is. It’s like that everywhere around the world. Obviously, I’m concerned about more people at risk, but around the world it’s like that for everyone."

Different days

So far, the Islanders have had five games postponed because of COVID-19, with only one yet rescheduled. It’s expected the other four will be made up in February, during the three-week window originally set aside for NHL participation in the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Here are the original dates and the one new date:

Nov. 28 vs. Rangers at Madison Square Garden – Now March 17, 7 p.m.

Nov. 30 vs. Flyers at Philadelphia – TBA

Dec. 20 vs. Canadiens at UBS Arena – TBA

Thursday vs. Capitals at UBS Arena – TBA

Monday vs. Sabres at Buffalo – TBA