Returning To The Madhouse Off The Meadowbrook

For those that grew up during the great cup runs in the 80's and the "epic" playoff battles that took place in the 90's, fans already know how loud the Nassau Coliseum can get (Photo credit: Nuke812/Flickr).

But for fans like myself, who were either not born or old enough to appreciate what was taking place on the ice in Long Island at that time, there is only the first round elimination series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002 that truly proves merit to the Coliseum's nickname, the "Madhouse off the Meadowbrook."

During that series, announcers and commentators around the league were taking note of how loud and passionate the waiting and long-deserving fans of Long Island were. In fact, the Edmonton Oilers play-by-play announcer felt that the only building that came close to rivaling their own building was, ironically, Nassau Coliseum.

The video below has been watched over and over by thousands since this game, but the collective "yeah" shouted after Shawn Bates scored the game-winning penalty shot goal will resonate in the minds of every Islanders fan for years to come.

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This building has history. This building has pride.

As a fan at the game highlighted in the video below, I remember not being able to hear myself think and losing my voice just trying to talk to my friend sitting next to me.

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At times it is almost difficult to hear the Leafs play-by-play announcer due to the crowd's volume. Unreal.

These were fans who waited seven years, after being ousted in the first round to the cup-winning New York Rangers in 1994, to see their team return to playoff glory.

Much like then, Isles fans have been waiting for six years to get another chance to prove to the league that this old barn can rock with the best of them. The last time the Islanders earned a playoff berth was in 2007 on a team that featured Ryan Smyth, Brendan Witt, Tom Poti, Viktor Kozlov and Alexei Yashin. The building was full of life after the Smyth trade, especially since the team clinched the playoffs during the Easter Epic 2.0 game against the New Jersey Devils due to Wade Dubielewicz's famous poke check in the shootout.

But that team of veterans was dismantled after that first round playoff exit. Buyouts and free agent releases took place all summer long as GM Garth Snow decided it was time to build through the draft and start fresh.

That's why this playoff drive has become so meaningful to this organization and its fans. This is a New York Islanders team that has finally taken ownership of that logo. This team has not been bought through the free agent or trade market. The vast majority of these players are homegrown and have suffered through the rough losses year after year just as their fans have.

For the first time in a long time, the cheesy slogan of "We're all Islanders" actually holds a truly significant meaning.

If the Islanders continue to hold strong and earn a playoff spot in this year's race to the Stanley Cup finals, that building very well might be the loudest it has ever been since the last time Lord Stanley's hardware was in Uniondale.

There are only seven more games to go. It can only be said as simply as this: just keep winning.

And before we know it, the Madhouse off the Meadowbrook will be rocking like the good days of old.

-Rob McGowan

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