Friday, November 21, 2008

Wins and Losses, What Will it matter?

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.



7th Woman said...

What do you want us to say Frank? Oh, actually, it's all been said.

Bryan said...

Last night at the Devils game, someone asked me who I'd root for if the Islanders left Long Island. I was speechless. Because my gut feeling is, it's going to happen. And that's a scary thought.

FCT said...

What do I want us to say? Ask me that after we dont have a hockey team to root for anymore.
I want everyone who cares about this team to flood the Town of Hempstead with phone calls, e mails, letters and let all of our local politicians know that if the Islanders leave the Island for what amounts to political red tape, then they wont be re elected.

That and get the word out there to all of the fans that this can and will happen unless something is done.


SM said...

Excellent, Excellent, EXCELLENT BLOG!! You basically touched on every thought that has passed through my mind in the last few months. "Scary" doesnt cover it. As a long time fan, I finally found myself moving back to the island after 8 yrs away, pick up my first season tix in as many yrs, and then I get hit in the face with the idea of the only real Long Island team moving off the island due to some shady red tape. I have sent emails, and letters, I go to every game... but what else is there to do? As a fan, I would love to see more support for this team at the home games, not because it will suddenly make us a winner, but as a sign of unity among Isle fans, and a show of support for this organization. (crap, they have been playing well, and showing some talent, why not? Hasn't really been a bad game all year, except buffalo at home) Remember, all in all, its your team, and how you support them goes a long way. Its not about who owns them, or even who manages them, its about what they have brought us over the years. I know the "who owns them line" is alittle untrue, but in all seriousness, Wang has done everything he can to create a winner (better then the last 4 or 5 owners)... hands tied with free agents lack of interest in playing here, losing 14 mil a year out of pocket, all this basically seems like a dead end, and he hangs in there... probably not about the team as much as making money with real estate, but heck, if he wants to make money and bring us a shiny new stadium, screw it, let him.. all he wants to do is dress up Uniondale, bring some jobs to the area, and actually give LI a "trophy" (all in all I dont really care if the lighthouse gets done, just want the team to stay, and a new stadium to attract Free Agents)
But the real question, what else can we as fans do, and will the fans do it. Its time to stop talking and take some action, write the emails, send the letters, show up for the games.. dont turn your back now, because in a year, you will regret it.
Basically, if your an ISLE fan, now is not the time to shut up, we need to do something. Send the Emails, Send the Letters, Buy the tix... just be heard!

FCT said...

SM I agree with you 100%. The Fact that so many people have just thrown their arms up in the air and said "what can I do?" or done nothing at all is really shocking to me. NOW is the time to let your local politicians know you want the Islanders to STAY PUT and on top of that to get a new arena. How can the Yankees, Mets Giants and Jets all get brand new facilites for a combined 3 BILLION dollars not including infastructure work. Wang wants to build the Lighthouse project at his cost and the price tag is 2 Billion. Sounds like a bargain in an area that quite frankly needs some dressing up.


NYI FAN said...

Wow, there are more people at an Islander game than here, NYUK, NYUK!!

IslesFanInCA said...

I agree with SM. The is the first time I've been to your blog via the BlogBox and am tremendously impressed with your thorough, insightful posts.

Yes, it really is a scary thought to think that the Isles will be gone from the Island. The biggest fault with the Coliseum is the location. All successful arenas are easy to go to via public transportation. They NEVER should have planned on staying on that plot of land but instead should've moved somewhere more accessible.

With that being said, it would be a tremendous blow to Long Island for the Isles to leave. If that happens, I don't think we'll ever see another hockey team come to NY.

Anonymous said...

Not for anything, but how is Wang losing $20 million a year. I have no doubt he is losing money, but $20 milllion a year? What about the cable TV contract revenue, parking, and they do have attendance, although low. For gods sakes, they have the lowest payroll in hockey and field a mostley AHL roster like Hunter, Yannis, Pock, etc..

I belive someone should question this. I believe the losses are ptobably more like $3 or $4 million.

Anonymous said...

Right now, I put the chances of the Islanders moving at greater than 50 / 50. The Town of Hempstead is going to be quite stubborn. Kate Murray does not care about an NHL team.

Ironically, they will finally be an elite top 8 team with Taveras, Baily and Okposso being allstars in 2011-2012 in KC.

Yes something must be done. Kate Murray could go down as one of the most hated individuals in NY Sports history, along with Lewieki and Wang.

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