Posts Tagged ‘NHL Relocation’

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The New York Islanders appear to have a temporary arena plan in place.

Co-owner Jon Ledecky confirmed the club will remain at Barclays Center in Brooklyn until at least the end of the 2018-19 season, according to Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.

Additionally, the Islanders remain wholly committed to building a new arena at Belmont Park, which is just outside of New York City, as per a bid submitted in late September.

What happens after next season and prior to the opening of a new rink remains a bit of a mystery, but a move back to Long Island appears to be out of the question.

The Islanders have called Barclays Center home since 2015-16. Along with the long-term arena uncertainty, the team faces the prospect of losing franchise center John Tavares to unrestricted free agency next summer.

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The New York Islanders are one step closer to finding a new home.

The Isles say they’ve turned in “a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination” at Belmont Park, according to Jim Baumbach of Newsday Sports.

The Islanders had played their home games at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island since 1972, but began playing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015-16. The facility was built primarily for basketball, and has drawn some heavy criticism for hosting NHL hockey.

Belmont Park, located just outside New York City and about 20 minutes from the old Coliseum, has been under discussion as a possible location for a new arena since April.

The Islanders’ ownership group is reportedly visiting Detroit on Thursday to tour the new home of the Red Wings, Little Caesars Arena, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Part of the deal between Nassau County and Barclays Center, where the Islanders play now, but which operates the renovated Nassau Coliseum, is that the Islanders either play four regular-season games and two preseason games at their traditional home, or the county gets an extra $1 million in rent.

Because Sunday’s preseason contest between the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers is the only scheduled NHL action at the Coliseum in 2017-18, Nassau County is getting its extra million bucks.

Sunday’s game also was little more than a tease. Gary Bettman said earlier this month at the Winter Classic press conference that “my gut reaction is it’s not a viable option” for the Islanders to return to an arena that got a $165 million renovation but still has many of the same issues as it did before the Islanders moved to Brooklyn, simultaneously 22 miles and light years away.

John Tavares nearly blew the top off the old barn when he scored his second goal of the game, an overtime winner to give the Islanders a 3-2 verdict. The level of sound in the old barn is the same as ever when the building is full, and the sellout crowd serenaded the Islanders all the way off the ice.

“It was pretty close to what we had in the playoffs,” Tavares said. “It was through the roof coming out in warmups and certainly the start of the game. Hearing the ‘Let’s go Islanders’ chants and the ‘Yes! Yes!’ chants (for goals) were prominent again. This fan base has got a tremendous identity, and they don’t want to lose hold of that. As players, we recognize that, and we want to reward them with good hockey, so this was fun.”

During the break between the third period and overtime, the fans made their opinion known, loudly chanting, “BRING THEM BACK.” The chant rose up again after Tavares’ game-winning goal.

“They certainly wanted to be heard,” Tavares said. “That’s above my pay grade, but I think certainly this place is very meaningful to this organization and the identity of this organization for a reason.”

 

The identity lives on in the Islanders’ logo, which has not changed since the move to Brooklyn. The tip of the “I” in the word “Islanders” points directly to the location of Nassau Coliseum. Keeping the team’s identity exactly the same is one of the reasons the move has felt half-baked for a lot of people, and why a return to Nassau County, even for an afternoon, was priceless.

“It means a lot,” said Matt Mead of Rockville Center, wearing a vintage Dave Scatchard jersey. “It’s kind of sad, because you know we’re going to have to head to Brooklyn after this, so it’s nice to have one little last hurrah here. It’s a good turnout, and I got to see a lot of old friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

“I’m enjoying it. It’s a 30-minute train ride to get to Brooklyn – it’s not that bad, but I miss coming here, tailgating, being with friends and family. Brooklyn’s a little bit of a pain.”

That pain is measurable in the fact that the Islanders ranked 28th in the NHL in attendance last year, at 13,101 per game, 82.9% of capacity in Brooklyn. That was down from an average of 13,626 (86.2%) in the first season in Brooklyn, while the Islanders averaged 15,334 per game, 94.8% of the final-season capacity at the Coliseum.

Sunday’s crowd of 13,917 not only filled the Coliseum, but the parking lot as well. Arriving in the morning, fans set up their tailgates and Islanders flags flew all over.

“I think we had a good sense that was going to happen,” said Tavares, who owns 89 regular-season goals at the Coliseum, plus five in the playoffs. “That was such a great part of Islanders hockey and who the Islanders are, is a lot of weekend afternoon games or evening Saturday home games, people out in the parking lot with a lot of space, just enjoying the atmosphere of what it was to be an Islander fan. It was great that they got to enjoy that again.”

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Gary Bettman doesn’t sound keen on the idea of the New York Islanders returning to their old barn for the long haul.

“I don’t view the Nassau Coliseum as a viable option,” the NHL commissioner said Friday at a press conference announcing next year’s Winter Classic at Citi Field in Queens, N.Y., according to Newsday’s Jim Baumbach and Steve Zipay.

“Ultimately, whether or not the Islanders want to consider that and bring it to the league or something, you’ve had to ask them about it,” Bettman said. “But my gut reaction is it’s not a viable option.”

Nassau lawmakers held a press conference of their own back in July in an attempt to woo the Islanders back to their original arena, even as a temporary solution.

The club will soon submit a proposal for a brand-new facility at Belmont Park. Bettman declined to specifically address that possibility Friday.

“The Islanders have very good options and they’re in the process of evaluating what makes the most sense for the franchise and their fans,” he said.

Bettman did say he believes the New York metro area can support another arena.

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as it’s officially known, has been renovated over the last couple of years since the club left for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015.

If officials with the Brooklyn-based facility want to opt out of their 25-year lease, as they’ve reportedly considered, that would have to happen before Jan. 30, according to Newsday.

The Islanders will play a preseason game at Nassau Coliseum on Sept. 17 against the Philadelphia Flyers, but Bettman said Friday he doesn’t think playing additional games there “makes a lot of sense.”

The club has dealt with several issues at Barclays Center, including piping systems that don’t meet NHL requirements and poor sightlines.

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Not all superheroes wear capes.

Shane Doan, the longtime captain of the Arizona Coyotes who made his NHL debut with the original Winnipeg Jets in 1995, was more than a leader to his team. On Wednesday, he announced his retirement from the NHL, doing so after 21 seasons with a single franchise.

On-ice achievements aside, Doan’s desire to remain with the only club he had ever known may have been the biggest factor in why the Coyotes have remained in the desert after years of uncertainty and instability.

“If Shane all of a sudden jumped for greener pastures five, six, seven, eight years ago, I’m not quite sure this franchise would still be here as we sit here today,” former Coyotes general manager Don Maloney told Jonas Siegel of The Canadian Press. “When you think of loyal, tough, strong, leader, character, teammate, all those words come to mind when you think of Shane.”

Maloney, now vice-president of hockey operations with the Calgary Flames, speaks from experience. He and Doan were critical pieces in keeping things afloat in the desert through his nine-year run as GM.

Four of those years included the Coyotes being under league ownership after former franchise holder Jerry Moyes placed the team into bankruptcy in 2009. The ensuing years brought a string of potential suitors, finally resulting in the 2013 sale to IceArizona, a group led by Calgary businessman George Gosbee.

But amidst ownership instability, relocation speculation, shoestring budgets, city council battles, and arena woes, Doan was the one constant. Not even Maloney, who built a Coyotes team which advanced to the 2012 Western Conference Finals, could withstand it all, as he was fired in 2016.

Still, Doan remained. The third captain in Coyotes’ history hangs up his skates as franchise leader in games played, goals, assists, and points.

“I think it’s such a credit to who he is as a person that through thick and thin, through some very difficult times, he stood up and said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. This works here. This is a great franchise. This is a great place to live. We can make it work here,” Maloney added.

“(Shane’s) first thought in anything that was done – off the ice, on the ice – is how does it affect this team, how does it my teammates and then – well down the line – how does it affect me? And I think that’s what you want in a captain, to be constantly thinking of team and how to make things better.”

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

A group of local lawmakers is proposing the New York Islanders return to Nassau Coliseum, the barn which the team called home for more than 40 seasons before it uprooted for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015.

Nassau and Suffolk county lawmakers will hold a press conference Friday, urging the firm redeveloping Nassau Coliseum to make the required upgrades needed for the Islanders’ return.

“We have been assured by (developer) Nassau Events Center that they are very willing to make necessary modifications to accommodate an NHL team,” Nassau lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Islanders’ ownership, according to Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach of Newsday.

Seating capacity was a primary concern why the Islanders left Nassau Coliseum, a 1971-built arena that had 16,170 seats. The ongoing renovation has reduced it to 13,000. The Winnipeg Jets are home to the NHL’s smallest arena by seating capacity, coming in at 15,294.

In a statement to Newsday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Nassau Coliseum is not a “suitable option” for the Islanders.

However, the move to Brooklyn has not been without its own concerns, as the arena was initially built for basketball, leaving many seats with an obstructed view of the Islanders’ ice surface.

The Islanders have a 25-year lease at Barclays Center, but can opt out of the agreement as early as 2018. In April, the team submitted a request for proposal to build a new arena at Belmont Park in Nassau County.

While the location of the team’s future home remains uncertain, the Islanders will play at least one more game at Nassau Coliseum, as it was announced last month that the arena will host a preseason game next season between the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.

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Naheed Nenshi wants Brian Burke to stop riling people up.

“Don’t try to make headlines,” Calgary’s mayor told the Calgary Sun’s Rick Bell when asked if he had any advice for the Flames president of hockey operations Thursday. “Don’t try to inflame people.”

Nenshi was critical of several comments the Flames‘ president of hockey operations made at a public speaking engagement Wednesday, including Burke’s soft threat of relocation if the hockey club doesn’t get a new facility and the executive’s comparison of the Flames’ plight to the Edmonton Oilers‘ arena situation.

The mayor says he saw right through what he believes Burke was trying to do.

“Seriously, it’s the script,” Nenshi said. “We’ve seen this movie before. The point is we need a different ending here in Calgary.”

The Oilers moved into their new arena, Rogers Place, last fall, and that building was constructed with more public money than Nenshi wants used on any future Flames facility.

“I want it to end in something that doesn’t look like Edmonton, that is a deal where any public money is very clear and it absolutely leads to public benefit,” the mayor said.

He added, “(The Oilers) had a very different situation. They had a derelict part of their city. They hadn’t had a skyscraper built in the downtown in who knows how long. They needed to try and really revitalize their downtown. We are a completely different environment. To ask for that deal in a completely different environment isn’t going to fly with taxpayers. It can’t just be, ‘Give us the deal the guys up the road got.'”

Flames president and CEO Ken King was quick to engage in damage control Wednesday, addressing Burke’s comments with a brief statement insisting Burke “is not our spokesperson regarding a new events center for our city.”

Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome is the oldest arena in the NHL that hasn’t undergone extensive renovations, having opened in 1983.