Brooklyn is the place to be after the announcement was made Wednesday that the New York Islanders would be moving to the new $1 billion Barclays center in 2015.
After decades of wasting away at the dilapidated Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders have a prime opportunity to raise their franchise from the depths of NHL irrelevance and become contenders again.
They won’t be alone, either. They’ll share their new digs with Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets who begin playing there this season.
A change in venue isn’t going to reverse the fortunes of a perennial losing Islanders franchise, is it?
It’s been 19 seasons since the Islanders have won a playoff series, and that may not change overnight by moving to a new arena. What it will do is change the outlook of the fans, the city and the NHL audience in general toward the Islanders.
That could encourage free agents to consider taking a gamble by coming to the Islanders whereas they were unable to procure anyone of note in Nassau Coliseum.
The new location also isn’t going to quickly undo the decades of Rangers fans’ loyalty because of a shiny new place to watch hockey. But attendance is a big factor that the Islanders are hoping—no, praying—will be reversed because of this transition.
They’ve averaged towards the bottom five in the league in attendance for much of the past decade and that’s definitely been in large part due to the loyalty of New Yorkers toward the Rangers.
A new arena and some hopefully new players that will come as a result of the transition may possibly be enough to turn the Islanders’ franchise around and stir up some interest in them.
While it will help lift them back into relevancy and out of the Rangers’ shadow, it’s also a good thing for those Rangers. A re-kindled and meaningful rivalry with the Islanders is good for the city and just flat out good for hockey.
Here’s to the end of the impotence of the Islanders and the return of a meaningful and intense rivalry in the Big Apple.