I am quite surprised at the lack of response and interest from the fans that I speak to as well as my readers on this site as well as my fellow NYI Blog Boxers to the very possible issue that It is a very good possibility that the Islanders days on Long Island are numbered.
Let go back in time to the other areas around the NHL who thought they could get away without building or renovating a new arena, or having a putrid on ice product for extended periods, or asking the fans to swallow major league ticket prices for what amounts to an overall minor league product from top to bottom.
The Winnipeg Jets move to Phoenix... Phoenix? That hockey hotbed. The Winnipeg Jets franchise had a huge following in Winnipeg but wound up being the victim of the NHL playoff structure of the time, and that being in the same division as the Powerhouse Edmonton Oilers franchise in their heyday, and the Calgary Flames meaning that if the Jets were going to make it to the semifinals, they had to go through BOTH of them to do so and my friends, that's simply not going to happen and certainly didn't as Edmonton dispatched Winnipeg 6 times int he playoffs. Winnipeg has since built a new arena for hockey, seating just over 15 thousand fans and are hoping to try and lure an NHL franchise back to Winnipeg. The Jets ownership ran to Phoenix with the promise of American dollars and I think we have all seen that the Coyotes have not exactly lit the world on fire, in the ice or off it.
The Quebec Nordiques go to Colorado. I'm sure all of the fans of the Nords in Quebec, who tried until the last minute to save the franchises move to Denver, all had a collective heart attack when the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in their FIRST season after leaving Quebec City. Here was a team that had a huge rivalry with its richer larger brothers in Montreal - you may know them as the Canadiens. So why would a team with a built in blood rivalry, immense young talent, coming off their best season in years and the biggest improvement in points in the history of the NHL move AFTER their team announced new uniforms and logos to the press? Money and arena. Quebec refused to build a new arena for their beloved franchise, and the Canadian dollar at the time was so weak that it left team ownership with no other choice but to sell.
The Hartford Whalers become the Hurricanes - The Whalers troubles were simple. They needed a new arena. Then Owner Peter Karamnos engaged in a game of chicken with then Connecticut Governor John Rowland demanding the 45 million in losses he incurred over the time of his ownership. A most puzzling move being that the deal for the new arena was imminent. the deal falls through and the Whalers announce they are moving. The Whalers had other problems also in horrendous trades, Larger market fans swamping their arena for when their teams came to Hartford and the arena issue. Sound familiar Islander fans?
This is just 3 examples of teams fleeing for greener pastures and please for one second do not think the Islanders are exempt from this. The only reason the team is still here is because of its very lucrative cable contract. The Lighthouse project is an over bloated project everyone knows that. But its not our money and if Charles Wang wants to use the Islanders as a pawn in his chess game to get his legacy project built then so be it. The area is dilapidated. The Coliseum is a joke. The area does nothing but enhance the notion that the Islanders are a second rate franchise in the shadows of the Rangers. No one of any marketability wants to play here, and no one is showing up to the games.
It all sounds like a swan song to me. for the first time I actually believe that moving the team could be a reality. Gary Bettman has even spoken in favor of getting the deal for the arena in place. All we hear from The town of Hempstead is... nothing. The ball is in their court and it is their turn. The fans have spoken. Can someone please give the Town of Hempstead a swift kick in the ass because quite frankly if this deal does not go by this summer we can all start looking for a new NHL franchise to root for. How does the Kansas City Scouts sound? The Seattle Storm? The Winnipeg Jets? Or you can go root for the Devils or Rangers... hows that for a thought.
Don't think for a second that it cannot happen because there are some people in Winnipeg, Hartford and Quebec that can tell you what its like to lose your franchise after mismanagement, horrid trades, expensive games of chicken and poor facilities.