FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Greg Van Roten is enjoying the Islanders’ playoff run and being able to share it with his Jets teammates.
It was Van Roten, a Long Beach product, who arranged for a group of Jets to attend an Islanders playoff game three weeks ago against the Penguins. Some of the same players, including quarterback Zach Wilson, have been back at the Coliseum for more fun.
"I joke with our PR team here that I’m just using the Jets to get myself tickets to go see my team," Van Roten said while sporting an Islanders hat following Tuesday’s minicamp practice. "It’s an opportunity to bond. We didn’t have this opportunity last spring [because of COVID]. It definitely hurt us last season as a team throughout the season.
"You can spend time with your position group a lot but maybe not with guys in other position groups or across the ball. This has been a no-brainer as far as, ‘Hey let’s get together on a weekend, go see a game and blow off some steam together and get to know each other on a more personal level not around football.’ "
Van Roten, the Jets' starting right guard last year, said he’s "converting" a lot of guys into Islanders fans.
"It’s been pretty easy," Van Roten said. "You go to a game, you have a great time and they win. It’s been awesome."
There are videos of offensive lineman Dan Feeney having a great time at games, enjoying an adult beverage before crushing the beer can on his head. Those clips have gone viral. And Feeney’s likeness — his mullet and a mustache — with "LGI" is now being sold with all proceeds going to charity.
"I give him a hard time," Van Roten said. "He was a Blackhawks fan and all of a sudden he’s coming and the Islanders nation has embraced him. I’m not jealous or bitter. I’m just saying I grew up an Islanders fan."