What a sight to see last night -- members of the 1980 Stanley Cup Champion Islanders in a suite high above the Coliseum ice, standing and cheering as Rick DiPietro made two big shootout saves, Miro Satan and Trent Hunter solved Martin Brodeur and the Islanders rejoiced over a 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils.
That's what this weekend is all about. Yes, as billed it's a Celebration of the 1980 Stanley Cup Championship, but it's also about tradition -- a link between players wearing the Orange, White and Blue, a link between fans of all generations.
So on the unofficial first day of this celebratory weekend, it was very cool to see Stefan Persson, Anders Kallur, Butch Goring and Ken Morrow in the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike cheering on their Islanders. (Chico Resch and Duane Sutter were there, too, but they were working).
"We're so thankful for Charles Wang and the Islanders for bringing us back together," said Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier, who arrived on Long Island this morning. "The Islanders have made this happen, and all of us are here to celebrate this great Islanders tradition with our fans. I think the old arena is going to be loud, don't you think"?
Players from the 1980 team began arriving Thursday and just about everyone else arrived today. Friday night is for them to celebrate as a team at a private dinner for the men whose names are on the Stanley Cup. Later tonight the party extends to their friends made during a glorious time on Long Island.
Islanders season ticketholders have their exclusive event on Saturday morning where they get player intros, a sneak preview of the tribute video and an hour to shake hands and get autographs from all the legends. The Stanley Cup will also be at the season susbscriber event, prior to a public showcase at the Long Island Marriott from 2-4 pm.
At 6:00 pm, "The Walk of Champions" begins from the Marriott to the Coliseum. Starting with Bill Torrey, Al Arbour and Jim Devellano, the procession will be something to see. Fans at Thursday night's Islander game were talking about getting to the Coliseum Plaza as early as noon in order to get a good spot. Even if you can't make it to "The Walk of Champions" we strongly advise that you allow plenty of time to get to the Coliseum because the event will be sold out, lines may be long and the ceremony will begin at 7:00 pm sharp. It won't be the same if everyone isn't standing at their seats.
Here's the latest lineup of participants:
Jim Devellano (Chief Scout)
Ron Waske (Trainer)
The 1980 Stanley Cup celebration on March 4, presented by Modell's and Newsday, will begin at 7:00 pm, followed by the regular season matchup between the 2005-06 Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. In addition to the 1980 team, the Stanley Cup will also be in attendance at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Islanders full season subscribers will receive an added treat. Season subscribers are invited to the Islanders' morning skate on March 4, followed by an introduction of the 1980 team, sneak preview of that night's ceremony, plus a meet-and-greet with the legends.
Tickets are still available for the March 4 game between the Islanders and Flyers, preceded by the celebration of the 1980 Stanley Cup team. Tickets are available at the Coliseum box office, TicketMaster or by contacting the Islanders at 1.800.882.ISLES.