Islanders' Move To Brooklyn Could Reinvigorate Team, Help Restore Lost Cachet
The Islanders “took a huge first step toward stabilizing the team and returning some cachet to what was once a proud and dynastic franchise” with the announcement of the move to Barclays Center beginning with the '15-16 season, according to Katie Strang of ESPN N.Y. The team has “put to rest all the nagging questions that have been dogging their ownership, hampering their offseason plans and frustrating ... their loyal fan base.” By partnering with the Nets, the Islanders will “capture some of the buzz emanating from Brooklyn's newest sporting attraction.” Not since the team drafted C John Tavares with the No. 1 pick in the ‘09 Draft has there been “so much optimism that the franchise can turn itself around.” The Islanders yesterday announced "ticket packages are already available for the 2015-16 season” (ESPNNY.com, 10/24). Several NHL analysts said that the move would “increase the team's relevance and reinvigorate its rivalry with the Rangers.” Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia analyst Bill Clement said, “Any move will help. I mean, they were just going to die there.” The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Mike Sielski notes Islanders Owner Charles Wang and GM Garth Snow are “counting on the franchise's new arena and urban setting to entice players and to allow the team to spend more money to sign them.” NBC analyst and former Islanders GM Mike Milbury said that the Nassua Coliseum’s “condition and location are significant drawbacks in pursuing elite talent” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/25). SportsNet N.Y.'s Adam Schein said, "Brooklyn equals relevance. This team is now relevant for the first time in years.” Schein said if he was an NHL free agent, “I want to play in Brooklyn. This is great on the ice, great for the fan base” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 10/24). The N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman said, “The Islanders in Brooklyn will get a lot more coverage from the newspapers” ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 10/24).
SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN: On Long Island, Arthur Staple notes there have been “numerous reasons Snow hasn't been able to attract any big-name free agents the past few summers.” A losing team has been the “biggest reason Snow has struggled to hit free-agency jackpots.” But having finalized a long-term home may “finally be something that tips the scales in the Islanders' favor rather than turning players off” (NEWSDAY, 10/25). In N.Y., Larry Brooks notes yesterday’s announcement “immediately transforms the Islanders into a viable franchise, perhaps even a destination franchise for marquee free agents.” Islanders fans on Long Island may “feel a loss today, but they have not lost their team.” Brooks: "Fact is, they have regained their team” (N.Y. POST, 10/25). Octagon Hockey USA Dir of Player Representation Ben Hankinson said, “It's just a team that lost their identity in the fact that there was so much turmoil around the organization with the building and the uncertainty” (ESPN.com, 10/24).
WHAT’S IN A NAME? In N.Y., C.J. Hughes notes while many in Brooklyn are "thrilled to add a pro hockey franchise" in addition to the Nets, they “wonder whether the Islanders’ name should be imported from Nassau County as well” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/25). Wang said that he was “not considering renaming the team the Brooklyn Islanders ... or anything of the sort.” The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes as the Nets have shown there is "great potential in a Brooklyn rechristening." There is an "undeniable marketing and merchandising opportunity with a Brooklyn re-branding.” It may be “too much for Wang and the Islanders to resist, and there's no embarrassment in recognizing the upside of this move” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/25).
BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY: Hockey HOFer Dennis Potvin, who played his entire 15-year career with the Islanders, said, “The more I think about this, the more it makes me sad” (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 10/24). Former Islanders G Chico Resch said that he “understands the move to Brooklyn, but it doesn’t lessen his disappointment.” Resch: “It's sad that they're leaving, but at the same time, Charles Wang probably doesn't remember those (Cup) times. So for him, there's no tug at the heart” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/25). Former Coach Al Arbour said, “It’s tough to see them move when they should have a team on Long Island.” Islanders VP/Corporate Sponsorships Mike Bossy, who also played his entire 10-year career with the club, said, “I feel terrible that the team won’t be there anymore, but I’m behind Charles 100 percent” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/25). More Bossy: “Today is today, yesterday was yesterday. … If they would’ve built a new arena in Nassau County, the Coliseum would’ve been gone anyway” (AP, 10/24).