Thursday was a surreal feeling for the players as they went separate ways for the summer. The sting of their first round exit in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs still fresh and the realization that the Coliseum will no longer be their home starting to sink in.
"I couldn't help but think about it driving up here today," Josh Bailey said as he spoke with reporters one final time. "And walking down the hallway. It's sad, for sure."
The scene that has played out over the last three days at the Coliseum is one that has occurred at the end of the year after every season. The Islanders, one by one, file into the press conference room adjacent to the tunnel leading to the team locker room. They speak with reporters and then disperse for the summer.
While Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday went just like they always have, the feeling was different. If it wasn't abundantly clear that this was it for the Islanders' time in Uniondale, the staffers folding up the team's Stanley Cup banners and packing them up into boxes sent the message home.
"[The Coliseum] means a lot," Kyle Okposo said. "There's a lot of good memories here. I played my first NHL game here, I've obviously played my whole career here, and there's little things about the building that I'm going to miss...we've really grown to love it and all the guys are going to miss this place."
Okposo said that the team's soccer area is "awesome," but for Islanders captain John Tavares what he will miss the most is the people that made the Nassau Coliseum so special.
"It's a lot more than just a building and playing games here," he said. "Certainly the atmosphere is talked about a lot -- it's special -- but it's also the people that are here every day. People you see around that make life easy for us. That appreciate us [being] here and a lot of great relationships. A lot of great people you meet and be involved with. A lot of that's going to change and you're going to miss a lot of that.
"It's hard because we know what this place means to everybody, certainly us as players, and I had so much fun here."
Now there is a bit of uncertainty in the air heading into next season. The Islanders will be calling Barclays Center home starting in September, but the logistics for practices and where players should live are still being hammered out.
Some players will remain where they are now and others may move.
"It's going to be different next year," Bailey said. "There is going to be some adjustments...I'm going to keep the same place I live in this year, so we're still going to be around and living in the area. That's definitely a positive."
Bailey added: "There's a grace period I guess where you have to get used to things and you have to adjust. I think we'll do it as easy as possible. That being said, you look forward to moving to the Barclays Center and it's a beautiful facility. I'm sure it will feel like home after playing a bunch of games there."
Another unknown variable will be how the crowd will be at Barclays Center. Certainly nothing will match the atmosphere at the Nassau Coliseum this past season, but the players would love for it to be similar there for next year.
"I certainly think it's going to be a different feel," Tavares said. "I think just daily life and that's going to take some getting used to. I think that's an important thing as a challenge for next year is getting comfortable and making sure we establish just the way you handle every single day. The way you approach the season and the challenges we're going to face playing in Brooklyn."
"Yeah we want to make it a tough place to play right off the bat. I don't think too many teams enjoyed coming in here this year, so you want to bring that same kind of feel to next season."
The Islanders will have a good team heading into Brooklyn and that -- in the short term -- will garner enough interest from the locals and the die-hard fans on Long Island to give Barclays Center a shot next season. The planned renovation of Nassau Coliseum still has several hurdles to navigate before that begins in the summer, so its future could still be up in the air.
But for the fans and players alike, the Nassau Coliseum will always be home.