By Peter Schwartz
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When Marty Timlin was watching an Islanders game during the first week of the season, he saw an automobile behind the glass at the Barclays Center. It was a strange sight and it bothered him. Later that month, he went to a game in Brooklyn and his opinion didn’t change at all.READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2’s 1/22 Saturday Morning Forecast
“Seeing it in person made me hate it,” said Timlin, who made the two-hour trek to Brooklyn from his home in eastern Suffolk County.
Because of the unusual arena configuration for Islanders games at Barclays Center, there is a rather large amount of empty space behind the glass on one end where seats are pushed back to allow room for the rink.
Some of that space is occupied by a Honda. That’s right, there’s a car behind the glass at the Barclays Center. It became quite a subject for Islanders fans on Twitter because it was just a weird thing to see.
But Timlin saw an opportunity to have some fun with it. He had just re-activated his Twitter account after being off for two years when he saw a tweet from Islanders forward Matt Martin promoting an autograph signing.
“I was going to make a joke about the car,” Timlin said. “But then I thought what if I reach out to him as the car and offer him a ride.”
And with that, the Twitter account @IslesWhiteSuv was born!
Timlin has been able to channel his inner automatic transmission to churn out some hysterical tweets as if he was the car speaking.
The car was once just another thing for Islanders fans to complain about when it comes to their new home, but thanks to Timlin, that has changed a bit.
“I think I did the Barclays Center a huge favor,” Timlin said.
“There are still plenty of people that hate the car being there, but now there are a lot of people that are excited to take a picture with the car at the game,” he added.
The Twitter account has become so popular that Timlin has partnered with IslesBlog (www.NYIslesblog.com) to create T-shirts and sweatshirts with a picture of the car and the slogan “HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!, a tribute to when fans would honk the tune “Let’s go Islanders” when leaving Nassau Coliseum after a win. The shirts are raising money for a good cause as 100 percent of the proceeds are going to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They are available for purchase at http://www.teespring.com/yesuv.READ MORE: NYPD Officer Killed In Harlem Shooting, Another Fighting For His Life
During my career in sports, I’ve interviewed so many great athletes and coaches, but I never interviewed a car. So I asked Timlin if he could arrange a chat with the white car that recently turned silver, presumably to reflect the Islanders’ quest for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Yes, I want the Cup,” the Honda told me exclusively. “The last playoff series win for us came in 1993, which is extremely embarrassing. I will continue doing everything I can to help us complete the All-Wheel Drive for Five.”
The Honda is referring to the failed “Drive for Five” in 1984 when the Islanders, in search of their fifth straight Stanley Cup, lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Cup Final. But if the Islanders are to hoist Lord Stanley this season or at some point in the near future, the team’s new unofficial mascot will get an up-close view from its seat right behind the glass.
“For me it’s awesome,” the Honda said. “I really enjoy being a motor-trend setter in the mascot community. Being the first automobile to have season tickets is an honor.”
After the initial outrage from fans about the car’s mere existence at Islanders games, the automobile now has a cult following. In fact, not only have many Islanders fans accepted the car but so has an Islanders legend.
“The fans have been amazing,” the four-wheeled Isles fanatic said. “I also have to give a shout out to Butch Goring. He usually tweets something funny to me prior to games and he has really helped me feel accepted in my unusual role with the team.”
Timlin has really found a way to turn a negative into a positive. He even recently brought his 6-year-old son, Marty, to his first Islanders game and posed for a picture with his son and the car that he has made famous. As it turns out, it was the last game that the car was white.
Timlin was alerted about three hours before last week’s game against the Los Angeles Kings that the vehicle had been swapped out for a silver Honda. So, he took to Twitter as the car to let the fans know what had happened.
“Otherwise, the entire night would’ve been dealing with questions about what happened and I wouldn’t have been able to sit and enjoy watching the game,” said Timlin, who said he had to make some changes to the Twitter page.
He came up with the #StanleyCupSilver paint idea and then collaborated with his cousin on a new logo with the silver SUV and Stanley Cup.
When I was a kid, one of the most exciting things about going to Islanders games was watching SCORE-O, a promotion where a fan could win a car by shooting a puck through a small hole in a board covering the net.
Today, there is a car as part of the Islanders’ game-day atmosphere, but this one, like the fans, is a spectator. Thanks to Marty Timlin and his Twitter prowess, that Honda has become part of Islanders Country.MORE NEWS: SEE IT: Mayor Adams, NYPD Commissioner Sewell On Killing Of NYPD Officer In Harlem: 'An Attack On The City Of New York'
Don’t forget to follow Pete on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan. And, of course, please follow Marty Timlin … aka the car at @IslesWhiteSuv.