A memo from the New York Islanders’ hockey operations department announced that the team would postpone future home games at Nassau Coliseum.
The memo was revealed after Brandon Crawford of the Chicago Tribune wrote a story about the team’s decision to delay the start of the 2018-19 season. The team had scheduled two home games and three away games for the Oct. 15-16.
The memo was a joint decision from chief executive officer Scott Malkin and general manager Garth Snow, with Hockey Operations director David Barr the new lead agent to the team. The memo asked to postpone the home games — Oct. 15 versus the Phoenix Coyotes and Oct. 16 versus the Columbus Blue Jackets — both of which were sold out.
The memo stated the team will add one ticket waiver per game to “promote awareness of the fan support and make the seats available.”
The decision is on the shoulders of both the league and the team, with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly calling the postponement “precautionary” on Monday.
The letter from Islanders personnel said the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” after sampling ice samples in the Islanders’ arena. It stated a dose of the bacteria was found in ice used for Tuesday’s preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes and that the results were “mild” when compared to what NHL standards are and appeared to be outside of typical factory processes.
The sample testing showed the same organism in ice in two other games over the past several weeks.
The New York City Department of Health will conduct additional sampling, as well as taking samples from fans who were still in line at the box office for Wednesday’s opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
At least 45 guests were waiting in line at the box office on Tuesday night, according to the Rangers’ team Twitter account.
Snow said there is no immediate threat to the health of fans who were in line.
“We understand the inconvenience caused by postponing the season opener,” he said in a statement on the team’s website. “We hope that the Islanders’ fans will continue to come to Nassau Coliseum throughout the rest of the season.”
Malkin said the team has its priorities in place and wants to be prepared for a healthy season.
“We have put in extra steps to assure the best possible conditions for our fan base, with the continued support of our partners at the Nassau County Coliseum,” Malkin said.
The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the virus are not native to the New York City area, according to the county health department. The department said it will provide updates on the situation on its website.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika is passed on through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can be prevented by using insect repellant and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
The most widespread of the reported cases in the U.S. have been in Miami Beach, Florida, where the public works commissioner is advising people to avoid crowds at night. The department said it is aware of four cases within the county.
According to the World Health Organization, there is no vaccine or treatment to prevent Zika, which is present in parts of the Caribbean and South America. The virus can cause a birth defect known as microcephaly. The New York Times reported Monday that about 2,800 cases of microcephaly have been reported in the U.S.
At least 28 people have died since the Zika virus was first detected in Brazil in May 2015.