Sharing memories of Nassau Coliseum

Levy and Melrose: Nassau memories (1:21)

With Nassau Coliseum ending its run as the home of the Islanders, Barry Melrose remembers the time he was in a playoff series in the building. (1:21)

Those who watched history be made at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum share their favorite memories:

Pierre McGuire, hockey analyst, NBC Sports

"My best memories were when I coached there and spent time with Al Arbour. Just an amazing coach, and person. He cares about mentoring young coaches and having the game grow. Nothing but great thoughts of going into his office and talking about the league and the sport in general.

"Another great moment, I think, was broadcasting in Game 6 of the Islander vs. Penguin series [in 2013]. [Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks] Orpik scored the OT winner, but the Islanders fans were fantastic the whole game and the noise at ice level was off the charts."

Ed Westfall, New York Islanders 1972-79

"Well, first of all, only because I like to fly, I knew it was on Mitchel Field, where Lindbergh took off when he flew to Paris. Which is a history lesson for most people today, and most kids today because they don't teach them anything. But anyway, I looked up on a pilot's map where Mitchel Field was, and then I knew where the Coliseum was. ... When we arrived, I got to meet Billie Jean King. I thought it was wonderful in the sense that, the old rinks I was playing in when I was playing in the Original Six, were all steep. And the fans were around you, close to you. And this building is probably the best for that today. So, I always appreciated that we were close to the fans."

Peter Botte, former Islanders beat writer, New York Daily News and co-author of "Fish Sticks: The Rise and Fall of the New York Islanders"

"As a kid, growing up on Long Island in the 1970s and '80s, the games were almost always sold out, so whenever my dad came home with tickets it was like finding gold. From the time I was 11 to 15, they obviously made the finals all five years and won the four straight Cups. I also was a ball boy for the NY Arrows pro indoor soccer team that played at the Coliseum during these years, and I always thought it was so cool that they got to dress in the same locker room as the Isles and I got to be in there before and after their games.

"One of my high school baseball coaches also was an usher there during the Cup run and helped me and my friends find our way into a couple of playoff games and concerts (including U2 in 1985).

"From a professional standpoint, I started covering the Isles in 1994, which happened to be the year their drought without a playoff series win started, so if you're looking for a common denominator for many of the past 20 years, I'm probably somewhere on the list.

"Obviously, there have been some well-documented 'truth is stranger than fiction' tales over the ensuing years from the Fishsticks jerseys to Milbury to 'Save us, Spano' and the other negligent owners to Trish the Dish to the Bates penalty shot to Neil Smith and Nolan and to all of the Nassau County B.S., etc.

"While I'm glad the team isn't moving totally out of the market, I think what this season's excitement and reflective attendance has showed -- at least before they head for Brooklyn next season -- is that the fan base all along simply craved and deserved an honest attempt to field a competitive team to fill the building.

"There's no arguing that the Coliseum's time has run its course. But as they say, it's our dump. Always will be."

Gerry Hart, New York Islanders 1972-79

"I played in the very first game. I think the shocker is, when we came there, it was a new team. When we stepped onto the ice at the Coliseum, everybody was wearing Rangers jerseys, ya know. It took a while for us to build a fan base. The big change was in 1975, when we beat the Rangers in the playoffs, and went to beat Pittsburgh, and went on to take Philly to a seventh game. That was the turning point. There was no question."

Alan Hahn, former Islanders beat writer, Newsday, and co-author of "Fish Sticks: The Rise and Fall of the New York Islanders"

"The Coliseum officially opened on Feb. 11, 1972, for an exhibition game between the New York Nets and the Pittsburgh Condors of the ABA. The building may have been open for business, but it wasn't finished. In fact, it never really was finished. On this night the capacity was set for 15,500 seats and attendance for the game was 7,892. Coincidentally, it was advertised that just 7,000 seats were ready for the game. Somehow they managed to seat everyone, but there were issues. One woman told a story about having four tickets to the game for herself and three children. The seats were Sec. 317, Row M, Seats 12-16. When she arrived at her section, the row had yet to be installed.

"Almost three decades later, during the 1999-2000 season, a woman got to her seat and found it was installed, but broken. And rather than find an usher to alert him of the issue, she carried it to him, instead. When the usher asked, 'How can I help you?' she replied, 'I need a new seat.'"

Jiggs McDonald, veteran sportscaster

"You talk about characters -- Bill Torrey would stand in the doorway leading to the dressing room and he always stood watching the opponent's goalie and gave him the whammy, just stared the goaltender down. You knew where you could find the bow tie. I think it was an intimidation thing. Bill would just stand there for the entire overtime and that was before there was any canopy over the openings."

Bob Nystrom, New York Islanders 1972-86

[On Cup-clinching goal in 1980]: "You know what? You don't always realize what you did until quite a while after. But more than anything else, when the goal went in. I just said 'God, I'm so relieved this is over with.' What people don't realize is that, this is every second night, every third night and you are just so intense. It's just a marathon. It really is."

Butch Goring, New York Islanders 1979-85

"I think our team definitely knows [about how special the Coliseum is]. I think they got a taste of it in playoffs a few years ago [in 2013]. That playoff brought a new look at the whole Coliseum and what it's all about. This year has been special."

Michael Russo, Minnesota Wild beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, former Newsday paper boy

"I was 5, 6, 7 and 8 when the Islanders won their Cups, and it ingrained itself into my blood. It's why I'm a hockey fanatic today. I remember going to games with my dad as a kid. What I'll always remember about Nassau Coliseum is the smell. I'm not saying it's a good smell or a bad smell or a smell we'll find out one day wasn't healthy for any of us. But it had a distinct smell every time I walked in there that I loved.

"I still remember to this day the first Panthers at Islanders game I ever covered. Walking around both locker rooms was a dream, and when I got up to the press box, I got chills. It has the best sight lines in the league and you are even with the most meaningful banners at least of my childhood. I remember staring at the Cup banners, then going over and just looking at the banners of Bossy, Potvin, Smith, Trottier, Gillies, Nystrom, my heroes growing up. I'm fairly sure I didn't watch a second of the game. A few weeks ago, I was the last person out of the press box following a Wild at Islanders game. I did my postgame video, and I got choked up during it. There was something surreal about being the last reporter out of the arena that night."