By Peter Schwartz
As the Islanders celebrate their 43rd and final season at Nassau Coliseum, the best way to say goodbye to the old barn would be a nice long playoff run and dare I say a fifth parade down Hempstead Turnpike. But while there is no guarantee of any postseason magic, the Islanders are planning some special nights, including a few that will certainly be a big hit with the fans.READ MORE: Tri-State Area Police Departments Travel To Harlem In Tribute To Fallen NYPD Officer Jason Rivera
The Islanders will welcome back their legendary players, whose retired numbers hang in the rafters, for one last curtain call. At those games, fans who purchase “Tradition on Ice” tickets will take home a commemorative mini-locker for each player.
“We wanted to give the alumni whose jerseys have been retired and who were such a big part of that amazing Cup run one final salute,” said Islanders senior marketing manager Eileen Mathews. “So we looked for something unique that we could do that we had not done before.”
The mini-locker games announced for the first half of the season are as follows:
Billy Smith: Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. vs. Pittsburgh
Denis Potvin: Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. vs. New Jersey
Bobby Nystrom: Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. vs. St. Louis
Clark Gillies: Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. vs. Chicago
I’ve been to my share of games as both a fan and a member of the media over the years and I have a house full of promotional items, including bobbleheads, balls, hats, T-shirts, and pins to prove it. But I’ve seen the mini-lockers that the Islanders are going to give out and I can safely make this proclamation:
These mini-lockers are the best promotional items that I’ve ever seen.
Each stands just over 7 inches tall and is less than 5 inches wide. The locker has the player’s name at the top of the stall, with his jersey in the locker. All but one of the lockers has a helmet on the top shelf. The only one that doesn’t is Bobby Nystrom’s.
Nystrom never wore a helmet so the shelf in his locker is empty.
“We did look into putting a pair of gloves in Nystrom’s locker, but the production schedule just didn’t allow it,” Mathews said.
By the way, since Clark Gillies briefly wore a helmet during his career, his locker has one.
On the back of the locker is a replica of the player’s Islander Hall of Fame plaque that is on the wall next to the team’s dressing room at the Coliseum. Unless you’ve been on a locker room tour during the Islanders’ draft parties or have some kind of special hookup, you probably haven’t seen the plaques.
READ MORE: NYPD: Wounded Officer Wilbert Mora Being Transferred To NYU Langone Medical Center, Still In Critical Condition
And now, with the mini-lockers, you can.
It’s safe to say that Islander fans have never seen a giveaway quite like this.
“We wanted to make these really special and make them true collector’s items,” Mathews said. “The mini-lockers are a lesser-known commemorative item. I’ve only seen one other team do them, so we thought they were cool and that they would have collectability.”
The mini-lockers come in a specially designed box that includes photos of the players with career highlights and a “did you know” fact about each legend.
To make these mini-locker games even more special, the players being honored will be on hand for their day or night. Each Islanders legend will also take part in a ceremonial puck drop before the game.
Another neat feature about the mini-lockers is that there is no sponsor. Because of that, the Islanders only produced a limited quantity. So, in order to get your hands on one, you have to buy a “Tradition on Ice” ticket.
“We wanted to make sure that if you wanted the mini-locker, you could get it versus the typical first number of people getting the item,” Mathews said. “This way guarantees that those folks who really want the lockers will get them.”
For each game, an upper-level ticket and mini-locker voucher is $45 and a lower-level ticket and mini-locker voucher is $75. They can be purchased at http://www.newyorkislanders.com/promotions. From now until Nov. 14, the Islanders are not charging ticket fees for the “Tradition on Ice” tickets. For more information, go to http://islanders.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=101915.
I like to think that I have a pretty good collection of sports memorabilia, especially when it comes to the teams that I root for. My collection features a number of Islanders items that I will always cherish, but there’s no question that I need to make room somewhere in the house for these mini-lockers.
For me, they represent a very special time of my life and I’m sure all Islanders fans will feel the same way.
As we say goodbye to the Coliseum, these mini-lockers will be a great collectible for Islanders fans of all ages and they will certainly be a great way to remember the glory years.
Follow Peter on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan, and the Islanders at @NYIslanders
You May Also Be Interested In These StoriesMORE NEWS: Police: 62-Year-Old Pushed Onto Subway Tracks In Lower Manhattan
[display-posts category=”sports” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4″]