The Islanders were a true upstart and underdog story last season in the NHL, rolling to a surprise second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division and a first-round sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That dream run ended when the Carolina Hurricanes returned the sweep favor in the second round, but Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello says a major key to continue the franchise's recent successes was the approval of the organization's new Belmont arena.
"You know how big it is. Without a new arena, there would not be the Islanders on Long Island. I think that says it all," Lamoriello told Newsday.
Lamoriello and the Islanders received the final approval for their new arena, which is slated to open for the 2021-22 season, on Tuesday from the state Franchise Oversight Board. The arena and entertainment plan will be an estimated $1.3 billion project.
As the roster builder for the team, Lamoriello explained how the plan's approval will have a positive impact on his ability to shape the roster, in terms of adding outside free agents and keeping their own free agents in-house.
"I think that's always something behind someone's mind, including our own free agents," he said. "They have the confidence in believing in our ownership's commitment to getting the arena."
Until the new home of the Islanders is built, the team is planning to continue splitting their home contests between Brooklyn and Long Island between the NYCB Live Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center, respectively.