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Nassau County polls open in Islanders arena debate

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Denis Potvin. Olli Jokinen. Roberto Luongo. Branislav Mezei. Names which to this day still tend to elicit some form of emotion from hockey fans in South Florida. And then there's Bill Torrey.

What's the common link? All came to the Panthers via Uniondale, NY, current home - as it has been since 1972 - of the Islanders. Our franchise's roots to the "other" New York team are deep and countless (and a subject for another time).

Why bring any of this up on the first day of August in a summer of high hopes for Cats fans? Quite simply, the future of the Isles remaining in their city of origin could well be at stake.

Nassau County polls have been open since 6am, allowing local voters to decide the fate of what could be seen as a last-ditch effort to (publicly) fund a new arena, replacing a building which has housed the Islanders from their inaugural season. If the measure fails, owner Charles Wang may well conclude his time in Uniondale has come to an end.

Regardless of one's opinion on public dollars used to finance the needs of a privately-held, for-profit operation, it's the raw emotion involved that strikes deep into the heart of any sports fan. Short of those with dreams featuring NHL clubs in Quebec City, Hamilton, and every available flat slab of open real estate throughout Canada, no one wants to witness another relocation.

Relevant links: Lighthouse HockeyNY Newsday (sub. req.), NY TimesNY Daily News