Over the last four-plus decades, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been the home of the New York Islanders. Dubbed “Fort Neverlose” because of the Islanders’ dominance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs during the early-to-mid 80s, the Nassau Coliseum has experienced a resurgence of sorts so far this season as fans have packed the old barn and made their voices heard by boisterously supporting their team.
While fans from far and wide have traveled to pay their final respects to the Nassau Coliseum, there are some that have gone above and beyond to capture what the coliseum has meant to Long Island and its dedicated fan-base. From David Wurtzel’s short film, Hockey Barn, to twoeightnine’s shirt design to Tristate Co-op’s Madhouse Off the Meadowbrook poster, there have been a number of commemorative designs created in order to pay tribute to the Isles’ final season in Hempstead.
No different from the rest, Branden Otto of OttoArt brings his own spin on the Isles’ final games at the Nassau Coliseum with a jersey design that pays homage to the Islanders’ stadium. Mixing together lots of essential patches that defined the Islanders during their glory years in the 1980s, Otto successfully blends together various elements that give Isles fans a blast of nostalgia and perfectly encapsulates what the coliseum has signified to Isles fans over the years.
A Commemorative Concept
As previously mentioned, Otto’s jersey fuses together lots of aspects of the Islanders’ glory days and the different patches on the jersey speak to the memories that many Isles fans undoubtedly formed throughout the team’s championship runs.
Without utilizing any specific player names, Otto decorates his jersey – which employs the color scheme of the 1995-1996 fisherman uniform – with a number of images that are representative of Long Island and the Islanders.
Starting with the front crest detail, one is immediately drawn to the lighthouse on the front of the jersey. Not only does the lighthouse patch represent the coastal nature of Long Island, there is also a geographic layout of Long Island right below the lighthouse image – which is only fitting to Long Island’s history of various local fishing industries.
With the front crest portraying a meaningful part of Long Island history, it is only fitting that one finds an image of the Nassau Coliseum right underneath the first patch. For an arena that has housed a team that has meant so much to its suburban communities, the front of the jersey is laden with imagery of Long Island’s strong historical and local roots.
Completing the front of the sweater, the right shoulder area has an anchor patch with the letters “NVMC” and the years from which the Islanders will have inhabited the Nassau Coliseum (1972-2015). Adorning each sleeve is a Stanley Cup and the numbers four and three – which references the amount of years (43) the Islanders have played at the coliseum.
Moving to the back of the jersey, one’s eye is once again drawn to the number 43 in the middle and the words, “The Barn,” written right above. Finishing up the upper neck detail of the sweater, one can see a Stanley Cup patch representing the dynasty years (1980-1983) in place of where the Reebok logo would be on a regular NHL uniform.
Last, but certainly not least, the most significant part of the jersey’s back design lies in the banners that hang from the Nassau Coliseum – the ones that immortalize the likes of Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Billy Smith, Bob Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Bill Torrey (bowtie), and Al Arbour (1500 wins).
Of course, one could make a case that this jersey has a lot going on, but it hits on all of the important points in Islanders history. Sure, traditional and official Islanders jerseys will always be a staple amongst fans, but OttoArt has created a piece of clothing that could be worn proudly by any Islanders fan. From the commemorative patches to the various colors that the Islanders have employed in their jersey designs to the references of how long the Islanders have played at Nassau Coliseum, the perfect amount of nostalgia and symbolism is displayed in this design – something that’ll be sure to please a fan-base that cherishes its rich history and community roots.
Fresh Off The Press
While one won’t be able to physically get these jerseys – at least initially – OttoArt will be hosting an online presale at their internet store. With the presale period lasting about 5-7 days, fans should get the commemorative sweaters while they are still in stock – as the jersey has received a mostly positive reaction from the fan-base – and one can find the link to limited edition tribute/presale on OttoArt’s website.
Printing the jerseys with a sublimation printing process, OttoArt will use 100% polyester materials with 130-200 gsm quick dry material. Utilizing more or less the same materials that go into cycling wear, OttoArt’s jersey is sure to keep one dry – whether going to the Coliseum, Barclays Center, or just playing a pick-up game of roller or ice-hockey.
Regardless of one’s opinion on these jerseys, there is one more extremely important aspect that needs to be mentioned in regard to these sweaters. As many Isles fans know by now, Al Arbour has been suffering from dementia, and this is exactly where OttoArt’s true colors shine through. With every purchase of a jersey, $5 will go toward dementia research – and that is an act which simply cannot be overlooked.
Only nine more regular season games will be played in the Nassau Coliseum, but fans will still have an ample amount of time to snag these jerseys from OttoArt. For an arena that has housed the Islanders through good and bad times, there wasn’t more of a fitting depiction that could have been made in the design – and having such an item will only help keep the meaning and memories extracted from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum etched in the hearts of Islanders fans near and far.
In his third year with The Hockey Writers, Toli covers all things related to the New York Islanders. Focusing on the Islanders, the NHL Draft & draft-eligible prospect goalies, and hockey history, Toli can be contacted on Facebook by searching/messaging Toli Metter and on twitter by searching @ToliMetterTHW.