UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A hockey dynasty lived here once, and the evidence is there gathering dust and hanging in the rafters of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A hockey dynasty lived here once, and the evidence is there gathering dust and hanging in the rafters of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

There are four New York Islanders Stanley Cup championship banners, dating from 1979-80 to 1982-83, along with those from the franchise's various conference and division titles.

The Islanders greats are honoured, too. Players such as Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Eric Nystrom and Billy Smith. Ditto for coach Al Arbour and for Bill 'The Architect' Torrey.

Two American Basketball Association banners, from 1973-74 and 1975-76 -- dating back to Julius Erving's early days as a pro -- are also on display, alongside a tribute to Billy Joel's 1988 World Tours and the nine sold-out shows here on his home turf.

But beginning next year, the Islanders -- and visiting teams like the Winnipeg Jets -- will play the majority of their games in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. (As part of a future reconfiguration of Nassau, six Islanders games per year still might be played at the old barn, pending league approval).

'Walking out and seeing those banners, the cups and the championships and the players that have been here before and then knowing that you are part of that organization, immediately you take pride in it'‐ Islanders defenceman, Manitoba's Travis Hamonic, on his first day practising inside the Coliseum

The move essentially ends the Islanders' long-time association with Uniondale and means they will call a place other than Nassau home for the first time since 1972.

And for guys such as Butch Goring, the pride of St. Boniface who was part of those four Stanley Cup teams, it means this winter will bring back a flood of memories.

"Most of us who played in this building, we're not thinking about what it's going to be like, to be honest," Goring said Tuesday, prior to providing analysis of the Jets-Islanders game for MSG Network. "We're trying to enjoy this last season and are thrilled with the start the team has gotten off to. The fan response has been unbelievable. They've been so loud, so much into it and that's made the trip down memory lane a lot of fun.

"For me, when we're not here anymore, that's when the memories are going to come to the forefront. I have a lot of good memories from this building. But right now it's not like I'm going, 'Oh my goodness, we're leaving.' It's hard to think about it when it's six months away and there still could be playoff games here."

The Islanders are a team in transition, both literally and figuratively. They have missed the playoffs in six of the last seven years but with many of their draft picks now on the roster -- and the additions of veterans such as Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy through trades made by GM Garth Snow -- the Islanders early success has fans on the Island buzzing.

 

Denis Potvin (5) caresses the Stanley Cup after the Isles beat Philadelphia in Game 6 to win the 1980 Stanley Cup in the Coliseum.

RICHARD DREW / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

Denis Potvin (5) caresses the Stanley Cup after the Isles beat Philadelphia in Game 6 to win the 1980 Stanley Cup in the Coliseum.

Next year the team will call the Barclays Center -- a basketball facility built for the Brooklyn Nets -- home. A year after that, owner Charles Wang -- who sold his majority stake of the team to Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin this year -- will shift to becoming a minority owner.

Work has already started on convincing fans, who now drive to Islanders games, to take the 30-minute train ride to Brooklyn to watch their beloved team. At the same time, the club's marketing department has launched a 'Brooklyn Scores' campaign to try and get fans around the Barclays Center -- remember, that is very close to Rangers territory -- to adopt the Islanders as their own.

It could have been worse, of course. The Islanders have been the subject of ongoing rumours for much of the last four or five years, since county voters rejected a plan to finance a plan by Wang to rebuild on the site of the current facility.

But Brooklyn is a heckuva lot closer than Quebec City or Seattle, two locations occasionally linked to this franchise during the turmoil.

"That's the good news," said Goring. "This could have gone to Quebec or somewhere else. That's why everyone on Long Island is thankful it's still here. Are there a lot of people upset? Yeah. This is the home of the New York Islanders, the Nassau Coliseum. But this is the best of what could have happened.

"But I live on the Island and now I will have to go 30-35 minutes on the train. That's going to be a change for me and a lot of fans."

Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic grew up in St. Malo and Winnipeg. And for a kid from the Prairies, the first time walking into Nassau -- as unimpressive as it may look from the outside -- was a jaw-dropping experience.

"It was pretty cool," he said. "It was my first summer (developmental) camp and it was a neat feeling, to say the least, to walk into an NHL rink and see those kind of banners and the history that they've had here on the island.

"Walking out and seeing those banners, the cups and the championships and the players that have been here before and then knowing that you are part of that organization, immediately you take pride in it. And it's only grown since I've been here, the pride that I feel for this organization."

The cup banners, for the record, will travel with the team to Brooklyn. The memories, however, will remain in Uniondale.

"When I'm doing the games or walking around at practices, I look up and those banners are the constant reminders of the success myself and my teammates were able to have here," said Goring. "It's a reminder to the fans of what this team was back in the '80s.

"You can't help but think about the good ol' days when you see them. And, at the same time, you think 'Where did they go?' because it seems like just yesterday. You look up and think, 'Those were fun times.'

"Hopefully there's more this year. It would be a great farewell."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait