Donald Rosner is about as big an Islanders fan as they come.
He was born in the early 1980s — a glorious time for the team as they would go on to win four consecutive Stanley Cups that decade.
He remembers the instant he fell in love with the team. He was watching the 2002 playoffs. It was Game 4 of the Islanders’ Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Maple Leafs.
Then it happened.
Islanders forward Shawn Bates converted the first playoff penalty shot in team history to win the game.
“Ever since then, the team has meant everything to me,” he said. “It’s my only hobby.”
To further support them, the avid Isles fan would go on to open Blue Line Deli, a hockey-themed bagel shop in Huntington.
After years working for his family, which owns Bagel Boss, he opened his own shop at 719 W. Jericho Turnpike in March of 2020.
It wound up not being the best timing, but he made it through, he said.
It was all worth it for what comes next in his story.
A few months ago, he got a call he couldn’t believe.
The Islanders wanted a Blue Line Deli concession stand at its new home at Belmont Park called UBS Arena. The $1.1 billion arena is close to opening. The first Islanders home game is slated for Nov. 20 against the Flames.
The icing on the cake for Rosner?
Shaquille O’Neal — yes, Shaq, the four-time NBA champ — wanted to team with the Long Islander.
At UBS Arena, O’Neal is bringing his Big Chicken fast-casual restaurant concept to Elmont. The Basketball Hall of Famer and business mogul wanted a special sandwich on the menu that was Long Island-style.
And there’s nothing more Long Island than a bagel, we presume someone told him.
Thus, Big Chicken’s “Islander” sandwich was born.
It’s a crispy chicken sandwich topped with cream cheese and blue cheese on a blue and orange colored bagel
What’s Shaq’s impression on the bagels?
“They are really good,” he told GreaterHuntington. “I’m amazed how he can make them that pretty blue and orange.”
The Islander sandwich will be offered at each home game for the team. Scroll down for photos of the sandwich.
To read more on other food options coming to the arena, click here.
Photos are by Greater Long Island‘s Nick Marchand.
Top: Blue Line Deli owner Donald Rosner with Shaquille O’Neal at UBS Arena.