Stadium Series return symbolic of a career bookends for four NY Islanders

Islanders Stadium Series: Matt Martin Mic'd Up During Family Skate
Islanders Stadium Series: Matt Martin Mic'd Up During Family Skate / nyislanders

Maybe if you play for the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, or New York Rangers, playing in multiple outdoor games in your career is somewhat commonplace. Those are some of the league's marquee teams that the league will always find an excuse to feature in front of a national TV audience. However, if you're part of the New York Islanders organization, the only way experience this novelty game is to stick around for a long, long time.

Stepping onto the outdoor frozen pond will bring back lots of childhood memories for the Islanders' roster, but it will also bring back memories of the 2014 Stadium Series game against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium for four of them.

Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Cal Clutterbuck were all young 20-somethings in January 2014, and over a decade later, they all remain with the Islanders organization (Martin had a two-year Toronto detour) in a different stage of their lives and careers.

They've gone from being "kids" themselves in the hockey sense to skating with their families at Thursday's outdoor practice. The Islanders' room is one full of Dads, and this group has gone from arriving on Long Island by themselves to now being married with two, three or even four children that have been raised coming to games and being around the practice rink.

"The families, they go through a lot during the course of the season, and you know, for me, 10 years ago, I had my 11-year-old out here, and she was 1," Clutterbuck said to "And now I've got another 1-year old ... skating around the ice with three other ones so it's almost like a little snapshot of how much time has gone by"

"The first time I didn't have kids, I wasn't married at the time," Martin said. "2014 was amazing for me personally, and as much as this one's amazing for me personally, I think for my family just to be able to enjoy it. And when we look back and will show the kids something like this, it's a pretty special thing.

The Islanders group is regarded as one of the closest-knit in the league; it's one of the reasons so many have stuck around rather than tested free agency. It's about more than hockey for them; it's become part of their lifestyle. When the team isn't winning, this is viewed as a negative sign that they are too content, and when they're winning, their closeness is regarded as one of the reasons why. Whatever the impact on the ice, everyone should admit and acknowledge it is pretty special and unique to have spent your hockey career growing up as a player and person in one place.

For this quartet of Islanders, today's Stadium Series game symbolizes a bookend to a career on Long Island that has lasted over a decade and will continue on for some of them beyond this season.