Hockey This Week

The Brooklyn Islanders. By Tony Stabile

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

The name looks funny, and obviously if the Islanders moved to Brooklyn they would keep the New York part of their name but it’s not all that crazy to think about.

In a move that finally has pushed the leverage into the office of Charles Wang, the Islanders have agreed to play the first NHL game in the brand new Barclays Center next October 2nd. This is huge that the announcement comes now as the Islanders are heading into the most important summer in its history. If the Islanders are to stay in Nassau County (which I don’t see being at all possible), the county and team must come to an agreement, get the plans and financing in order and have a shovel in the ground by next June 1st. Anyone who knows anything about Nassau politics knows that nothing happens that fast. Until now, the County has held all the leverage as there had been no opposition, it was either you do things our way, or they won’t get done. Now with genuine interest from a location just 25 miles west of the Coliseum, from a brand new state of the art facility, the power shifts all to Wang. If Nassau refuses to work with him, he can now take his team and simply move them to the Barclays Center for the 2015 season. No construction costs, no political headaches, just a thanks for the memories and see you soon. The County would then be on the hook for a useless facility (funny this all sounds familiar), and with the economy in its current state, that land would become the new Roosevelt Raceway.

Anyone see this coming?

For all the politicians who decided to make the Coliseum referendum about “bailing out a billionaire”, they will have a lot of explaining to do when taxes now go up due to the economic engine known as the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum closes and the event and tax revenue that building generates comes to a screeching halt. For Brooklyn, it’s a homerun. They gain a tenant with a loyal fan base for at least 41 nights a year. Add that to the minimum 41 dates the Nets will be there, and the Barclays center will already have a fuller calendar than the 3 year old Prudential Center in Newark. Add the inevitable concerts and other shows (Disney, the circus etc.) and the Barclays Center will become a real alternative to Madison Square Garden.

What Does This Mean For the Islanders?

Well first and foremost, It means the Islanders will have a true revenue stream and a lease that will allow them to make money. If the Nets’ billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov makes an investment in the Islanders (say 30%) it will infuse cash into the team, allowing Charles to recoup some of the $250 million or so he has lost over the years, and most likely give the team some money to work the roster with. I’ve said this a hundred times, Garth Snow has done a fantastic job with very little money and almost no staff. If you give this guy a budget and a big league scouting staff, who knows what he can do. Something like this could allow that dream to come true. The Islanders have been in this bottomless money pit the past 15 years, only with this announcement did the light finally start to shine on them. The Brooklyn option (and don’t discount Queens either, they will be in this thing sooner than later), finally allows the playing field to be leveled for this franchise.

What’s Next?

Next you ask?? Well Nassau will finally see that their bumbling of this thing the past 11 years has put them in a precarious spot. They have absolutely no money, they are restructuring the County services by the day (cutting social worker jobs and turning police precincts into community centers) all while taxes continue to go up. The county is under the thumb of NIFA (who controls the county’s finances), and generally seems to be at a complete standstill. Nothing constructive is being done, and nothing is being done about it. While County Executive Ed Mangano is still requesting RFP’s (requests for proposals) for the Hub, there is no developer that is willing or able to build anything with out at least some public money. I hate to bring it up again, but if this would have happened 10 years ago, when Charles bought the team and was willing to make a deal for a new building, the residents of Nassau County wouldn’t be looking down the barrel of a gun now. The politicians we have elected have waited and waited for a deal that would be best for them, either in an election or in their own pockets. Who loses in the end?….the taxpayer.

The Fans…

I can guarantee you the fans could care less if the Islanders were playing in Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn, Queens….no matter. The die hard fans have stuck with this franchise through some of the most ridiculous and mind boggling decisions and stories in the history of professional sports. The chance to see a winner again will have little effect on whether the fans take a train ride to Brooklyn to see their Islanders play. I was at the Coliseum on a June night in 2009 when almost 10,000 people came out to watch the Islanders draft franchise cornerstone John Tavares, the fans are ready for this.

Isles Notes

  • Congratulations to John Tavares (boy i’ve heard that a lot lately), on being selected the NHL’s first star for the month of January. Tavares blew up the scoresheet in January scoring 22 points in just 13 games. He also added 2 points in the all star game in Ottawa. Welcome to the big time John.
  • Good to see the Isles call up Rhett Rakhshani and give him a opportunity to get some minutes with the big club. Rakhshani was off to a great start after missing some time early to a concussion. Though small, he has some big time offensive skills. Underachieving Brian Rolston has been sat down.
  • Still no word on Rick DiPietro’s surgery….
  • Whether the Islanders are active at the trade deadline greatly depends on how they fair the next 3 weeks. It could be the difference between the Isles acquiring someone for a stretch run, or dealing someone like Parenteau or Nabokov….or both.

For Hockey This Week…..I’m Tony Stabile
Hockey This Week

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonystabile

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