It was the perfect gift for NY Islanders fans coming out of the holiday break, as The Park at UBS Arena was open for business before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. As a fantastic warmup before the puck dropped indoors in front of a raucous crowd, unfortunately, it was the only excitement on the night, as the Isles were blown out by their Metropolitan Division rivals.
It wasn't just a momentous occasion for the Islanders, as the league took notice with the NHL Network and NHL Now, hosted by Jameson Coyle, Mike Rupp, and former Islander goaltender Kevin Weekes, doing their show with UBS Arena as the backdrop.
Joining the show was former Islanders defenseman and NHL Hall of Famer Denis Potvin - who signed autographs and met with fans back at his former stomping grounds on Long Island.
"I've known about this for some time," said the 4-time Stanley Cup Champion regarding the opening of The Park. "The owner, Scott Malkin, said he had a chance to get this property between Belmont Park and the arena, and it's amazing what they've done with it."
The NHL Network wasn't the only network on the premises, as MSG had the Islander pre-game show hosted by Shannon Hogan and Thomas Hickey live from The Park. Potvin also made an appearance here, as did recent Hall of Fame inductee Pat LaFontaine, who's been absent from the organization for far too long but has been popping up on Long Island more this season.
"It's amazing. It's incredible," LaFontaine told Hogan about The Park's opening. "It brings all of us back to our childhood, and kudos to the Islanders organization for creating a one-of-a-kind destination experience that I don't think anyone has except for Winter Classics. This is great for the fans.
The Park will be open for public skates seven days a week and will become a destination for all to visit before puck drop on game night.