The New York Islanders won't be put on ice today. In 2015? That may be another story.
After nearly two decades of fits and starts, and multiple threats to relocate the team, the downtrodden National Hockey League franchise suffered their latest calamity in their never-ending quest to build that elusive state-of-the-art arena.
Voters soundly rejected a $400 million bond issuance that would have let Nassau County borrow to help build a new rink for the team that once made Long Island the center of the hockey universe.
Those years, when Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies and Billy Smith owned hockey, when Denis Potvin, Tomas Jonsson and Bobby Nystrom were hoarding Stanley Cup championships, seem like a lifetime ago.
From 1980-83, no one beat the Islanders when it mattered. And unless you were one of the lucky or connected ones, a ticket to see the Islanders was difficult to get. Much easier? Predicting a May parade on Hempstead Turnpike.
For four seasons that's exactly what Long Island got, winning their last Stanley Cup in 1983 with a tidy four-game sweep of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and the rest of the favored Edmonton Oilers.
A year later, the Isles would lose to the Oilers in the finals. They haven't been back. In fact, they haven't won a playoff series since 1993. For 18 years, the Isles have been on the short end of the stick, though few defeats have left fans as empty as tonight's loss on a warm August night.
These days, the team has played near the bottom of the standings, both on and off the ice, where attendance has sagged. Two decades of losing will do that. Last season, the Isles drew 453,456 fans, dead last in the NHL. On average, 11,059 fans went to each game, more than 1,000 per game behind the second-worst average, set in Phoenix.
In comparison, the New Jersey Devils, who also play in the shadows of New York City, brought in 605,803 fans, or 14,775 per game. Unlike the Islanders, the Devils have had success in recent years, winning three Stanley Cups since 1995. New Jersey didn't have Mike Milbury nonsensically trading away future all-stars. Their owner also never signed an unproven goalie to a 15-year-long deal.
Oh, and the Devils have a new arena, the Prudential Center, which opened in 2007. The Newark, N.J.-based building boasts being the third-highest grossing arena in the country.
A new arena on Long Island could be just as successful, contend County Executive Ed Mangano and Isles owner Charles Wang. It could bring in the big-name performers who generally skip right past the 18th-largest market in the United States.
The increased attendance would, of course, fill county coffers and ring cash registers at nearby bars and restaurants, where owners have feared the team's relocation.
But county taxpayers made it clear that the Drive for Five, and the increased business, won't be built on their backs.
Tonight, Mangano lost. Like on too many other nights, the Islanders lost too.
Wang said he's "heartbroken."
It's a feeling Islanders fans know all too well.