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JUDGE ORDERS ISLANDERS TO RETURN TO NASSAU COLISEUM FOR GAMES

The New York Islanders hockey team was ordered to return to the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday after a judge ruled the arena was safe to play in.

State Supreme Court Judge Burton Joseph granted Nassau County's request for a preliminary injunction preventing the team from playing home games at any location other than the coliseum.

The team moved out of the arena earlier this month and filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against SMG -- formerly the Spectacor Management Group -- claiming the arena was a danger to fans and players. That suit has not been resolved.

The coliseum is owned by Nassau County and leased to SMG -- a Philadelphia-based management company. Tuesday's ruling came after an independent engineering inspection of the 26-year-old arena, paid for by the NHL, deemed the building safe.

The Islanders had claimed the arena was falling apart, citing an engineering report showing the hoist system for the scoreboard was unsafe, there was crumbling exterior concrete and an inadequate fire safety system.

Those problems have been repaired or will be fixed soon, the team said. Even though they were ordered to return to the coliseum, the Islanders declared the judge's order a victory.

"This ruling reflects the simple fact that for the first time in years, the doors to this building were pried open to safety inspectors, abuses were found and they're being remedied so that fans and players can come here in safety," said David Seldin, president of New York Sports Ventures, which owns the team.

Seldin said the team will not withdraw its federal lawsuit, which claims the coliseum lease is no longer valid because the building had been in such poor condition.

The Islanders hope to build a new arena within the next three years on the site of the coliseum, where they have played since 1972.

An exhibition game against the New Jersey Devils was canceled last Friday when both sides in the dispute were unable to come to an agreement about allowing an engineering firm to inspect the coliseum.

Corson, Koivu back with Habs

MONTREAL -- Saku Koivu reported to the Montreal Canadiens training camp under his new three-year contract.

Linemate Shayne Corson was also back, but perhaps not for long.

Corson, 32, was talked into ending his holdout by coach Alain Vigneault last week, but he may bolt again before the season starts on Oct. 10 if the Canadiens do not sweeten the final two years of his long-term contract.

Corson and his agent, Rick Curren, are to meet with general manager Rejean Houle on Thursday to try to end the dispute.

Corson will earn $1.145 million in each of the next two seasons. Houle offered him an extra $500,000 for each of the next two years plus $2 million for the third year, when Corson would be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

However, Corson wants $2.5 million for each of the next two years plus $3.5 million the third year.

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