Why New York Islanders' Move to Brooklyn Should Worry NY Rangers
Long in the shadow of the New York Rangers, the Islanders will now begin to encroach on what has long been Ranger territory.
How will the move affect the Rangers? And why should they be worried?
Read on to find out.
With no offense intended to those who live there, Long Island is simply not Brooklyn. In recent years, Brooklyn has become the place to be in New York.
It's a young, educated community whose inhabitants will have money to burn on games. That means more tickets to be sold and more revenue for the Isles.
With the increasing revenues and an upgrade on their arena and local market, the Islanders will surely become a more popular free-agent destination.
Previously, if a player had narrowed his choices to the Islanders and Rangers, the Rangers would have the upper hand. Manhattan stands at the heart of the city, and Madison Square Garden is one of the most popular venues in the country. Nassau Coliseum, quite frankly, is not.
But now things will not be so black and white. The Barclays Center is a world-class arena.
This all means that the Islanders can take away free agents who would've otherwise opted to go to Manhattan. This is competition that the Rangers are not used to.
If the Islanders, a team with a lot of young talent, continue to improve, then even more free agents will consider Brooklyn over Manhattan.
The Rangers may win some free agents, but they can't win them all. They're going to eventually miss out on some quality players, and their new neighbors just might be the reason why.
When the Islanders do move in to their new digs, people are going to be excited. It's a rejuvenation of an Islanders franchise that has hit some hard times.
As the crowds swell and the excitement is made palpable, the players will undoubtedly feed off that. More fans means more excitement, and the Islanders won't be inclined to coast through games.
This first-year "boost" could help lift the Islanders into playoff contention. By 2014, John Tavares will be a perennial 40-goal scorer, Kyle Okposo will be in his prime, and the Islanders will have some of their top prospects in the show. They will be a better team.
So when they hit the ice in Brooklyn and the fans are coming out in droves, they will feed off that energy and improve their play.
Because the Islanders are in the Rangers' division and the Atlantic Division is filled with talented teams, adding an improved Brooklyn team will make it much tougher for the Rangers to consistently compete.
Additionally, the Rangers won't be able to enjoy a "home" advantage on the road. Rangers fans would come by the truckload to Long Island to watch the team because of all the empty seats. But that won't be the case anymore.
It would be wrong to say that the Rangers get a lot of attention; even with their great playoff run last season, the team simply doesn't dominate headlines.
But if the Rangers barely get headlines, then the Islanders almost never get headlines. It's a function of being a cellar-dweller for so long and for living in the wide shadow of the Rangers.
But when the team moves to Brooklyn, things will begin to change. The two teams—and to a lesser extent, the Devils—will be competing for the little ink hockey gets in New York.
The Islanders, especially in their inaugural season in Brooklyn, will take the focus off the Rangers.
This should worry the Blueshirts because the less attention they get, the less excitement there will be, and the less players will want to come to Manhattan.
It's a downward cycle, and it can only be stopped with winning by the Rangers or utter ineptitude by the Islanders. But sitting here, looking ahead to three years from now, it's not a great thing to be losing attention if you're a Rangers fan.
The Rangers and Islanders have a storied rivalry. These two teams and their fanbases hate each other.
The Rangers still continue to chant, "Potvin sucks!" over 30 years after the incident took place.
But the rivalry loses its luster when playing on Long Island. The arena can't do the rivalry justice.
Now that the Islanders will be closer and the arena will be better, the rivalry will be even more intense. More hitting, more fighting, more passion.
Playing so many of these rivalry games a year can be draining. They are often decided on one moment or bounce. Every point counts, and playing in yet another intense rivalry is not going to help the Rangers.
Rivalries take their toll. This rivalry will be renewed in 2015. And it's going to end up hurting the Rangers.