Though the Islanders played Game 5 of the NHL semifinals over 1,000 miles away in Tampa, Nassau Coliseum on Hempstead Turnpike was still rocking — at least until their team couldn’t stop the Lightning from scoring.
The Islanders held a viewing party for thousands of fans to come together and cheer on their favorite team before it lost 8-0 and put on the brink of elimination within one round of the Stanley Cup finals. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was a catalyst who helped put the event together.
“We got a formal letter from Isles nation asking for a watch party,” Curran told The Post Monday evening. “I thought, ‘What an amazing idea.’ This is a group of such loyal, passionate fans who, really, truly, with all their heart and souls, love this team.
“We wanted to think about how we could best get everyone together. With it being the final season in Uniondale, we chose the Nassau Coliseum. I got on the phone with Islanders ownership and they said they were working on it. I was very encouraged. I was getting the updates. And when the announcement dropped, we made sure everyone knew this was happening.”
With the help of Curran, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky played a big role in making sure the logistics were worked out.
“Ledecky is amazing,” Curran said. “He really is the best owner. He is accessible. He is with the fans. He is one of the people. He is really easy to talk to. He really gets us. He really gets the fan base. He is not an elitist. And I would say that about the whole organization. They are a pleasure to work with.”
As the Islanders embark on a Stanley Cup run, fans are savoring every last moment at the Old Barn, which Curran called “an iconic building with a visceral connection to Long Island.” Curran — an Islanders season-ticket holder with her husband John — attended the watch party with thousands of fellow fans.
“This is a little superstitious, but when there is a lot of positive energy going toward the team, they just play amazing,” Curran said. “We are the extra man on the ice. That energy gets them totally focused. We wanted to take the energy from the Coliseum and send it to Tampa Bay.”
Curran has been a huge proponent of the Islanders since taking office in 2018. The 53-year-old pressured Gov. Andrew Cuomo to raise capacity at home games during the COVID-19 pandemic, wrote a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman asking 2019 playoff games to be played at Nassau Coliseum over Barclays Center and even placed a friendly wager on this series with Tampa mayor Jane Castor.
“There are so many difficult things we have to deal with, that I am happy to accentuate something positive,” Curran said. “The Islanders are great for Nassau County. They are good for our economic development, it is good for our sense of self-respect. It is good for our brand. They are called the Islanders because they belong on the Island.”
And this watch party was just the beginning. If the Islanders advance, Curran has big plans.
“I am very superstitious, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We have to win this series and then we have to win the Stanley Cup,” Curran said. “But, I think it is safe to say that if we go all the way, we are going to go big. We are going to go Islanders big.”