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Players, Snow: New building needed for future of team

Between the labor leaders riling up the crowd and the politicans pitching their points, 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 sorely-needed new arena.

If the Islanders stay in their current home--the decrepit, decaying Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum--the team will continue to flounder in their bid for talented free agents each summer, they feel.

"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 [team owner Charles Wang] and Garth [Snow]."

Snow has tried using money to remedy the problem; he offered significantly more money to top free agent defensemen Paul Martin and Dan Hamuis than for what they signed last July and more in annual average salary to blueliner Christian Ehrhoff than the deal he inked in Buffalo this summer.

While on-ice performance is an undisputable factor--the Islanders have missed the playoffs the past four seasons--the lack of certainty in the team's future hurts the team as well, Snow thinks.

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

New York Sports