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Bobby Nystrom will miss vibe at Nassau Coliseum

Former New York Islander Bobby Nystrom drops the

Former New York Islander Bobby Nystrom drops the ceremonial first puck between John Tavares and David Backes of the St. Louis Blues at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Flyers had scored twice in the third period to tie Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final, and Bobby Nystrom walked into a deflated Islanders locker room and into the back, where they kept the sticks. He held a scalpel he had swiped from the training room.

"I just carved a notch in my stick and I said, 'I want to be the guy who scores this goal,' '' he said Saturday morning before the Islanders honored him in a pregame ceremony.

"As it turns out, I did. So I kept the scalpel.''

Nystrom's Cup-clinching overtime goal is woven into the very stitching of Nassau Coliseum. The white banner commemorating it is the first in a row of four, and his name is on two other banners: the list of Hall of Famers and of retired numbers.

Next season, all those nods to former glory will be packed away and shipped to their new home in Brooklyn, and that's just a little sad, Nystrom said.

The season "is going really well and it's a great send-off,'' he said. "But it's heartbreaking for me to see it happen. I've spent a lot of years in this building . . . It is a sad year, but hopefully the way they keep playing, it'll be a good year as well.''

Nystrom, 62, an executive vice president at Kinloch Consulting, dropped the puck before the Islanders' 6-4 loss to the Blues on Saturday. Earlier, he said playing at the Coliseum was a singular experience, particularly because he and his teammates were young, small-town boys in search of a new home.

"Everyone says that we had a parade down Hempstead Turnpike, but that's what we wanted,'' said the man nicknamed "Mr. Islander."

"We really identified with the community and we had such a great relationship with the community. I think the best thing of all was that we didn't have that mystique about us where we were kind of secluded. We were out in the public.''

He recalled the exhaustion of Game 6. Although a slew of penalties meant "I was well rested,'' he said, laughing, the tension of the moment still was overwhelming. "The interesting thing is that as much as you think your first thought is 'Yeah!' it was 'Oh my God, thank God it's over,' '' he said. "I have so much respect for the players now because the game is so much faster and harder.''

But: "It's every kid's dream to hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth, two outs. So I always really am thankful that I was put in that position. It was the best moment, but there are many moments.''

The thing he'll miss the most, he said, is how loud it gets.

"We [had just] lost in Philadelphia,'' he said. "I almost broke into tears when we came out and they gave us such a standing ovation in this building in warm-ups that I was choked up. I was almost in tears.''

Despite the nostalgia, he understands why this is happening, Nystrom said. The old girl is getting on in age and needs a bit of sprucing, "but I don't think there's any building in the league, when this place is packed and the crowd is going, that's louder.

"It's a great building. It's had its time.''

New York Sports

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