Isles Fully Focussed on Future
With the move to Brooklyn a little over 12 months away, and Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Barroway rumoured to be in talks to buy the team, the New York Islanders gaze is fixed firmly on the future.
After making the play-offs last year, hopes were high heading in to this season. But one disaster after another seemed to befall the club. Poor form and injuries to key players, combined with the controversial Thomas Vanek trade(s), made for a rough ride for a fan base already weary of years in the basement.
Despite having 8 games remaining in the 2013/14 campaign, many have already switched off and the only question now left on many supporters lips is simply ‘what happens next?’
The move to Brooklyn is considered a major positive for the club, both in terms of raising general interest in the team again and attracting new ownership.
It is no secret current owner Charles Wang wants out. He’s lost countless millions (up to $10m in a single season!), failed to secure a new arena as part of the much talked about Lighthouse Project, and ‘clashed’ with fans at numerous turns. Whether you buy in to the idea that owners care what fans think or not, being ‘pubic enemy number 1’ for any length of time cannot be fun.
Whilst Wang flirted with the idea of relocating the franchise (Kansas City was one possible location), ultimately a deal to move the team to the Barclay Centre in Brooklyn came to fruit in October 2012.
The New York Post reported that the Islanders are guaranteed $50m in annual revenue – though they did also add that “Barclays would keep anything it collects in sponsorship, suite and ticket sales over that amount”. Either way, that is a pretty fat cherry on top of an already attractive cake for a team that has lost money hand over fist for the past however many years.
A further sweetener, particularly whilst the club remains in ‘transition’, is that they reportedly don’t pay rent during the regular season.
Add in a bevy of potential new fans in the area around the Barclays Centre, and there seems to be enough going in the clubs favour now to catch Barroway’s attention.
The legal eagle was once a potential suitor for New Jersey, and with guaranteed income in a new building the Islanders are about as enticing a prospect as they are ever likely to get.
Wait too long, the club might finally get itself out of this hole and the asking price goes up. Or things fail to improve and you’re buying a dead duck. Neither scenario is appealing to a potential owner, and so Barroway is rumoured to be willing to pay $225m for the franchise (plus a potential $75m depending on revenues).
The move to Brooklyn was certainly a huge boost for the Nets – who once upon a time ranked 31st out of 30 NBA teams… (the defunct Seattle Supersonics still ranked ahead of them!)
Whether the Islanders are tempted to rebrand as well, as Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski suggested, the benefits of this move keep adding up.
Wang has, to his credit, stuck in there despite it all. Occasionally it is the better the devil you know – but for many, a new home and a new owner (maybe) certainly offer much to feel positive about.
Even on the ice there is reason enough to feel hope.
Adding Kevin Czuczman to a blue line already brimming with top young talent gave Isles fans another reason to smile. Throw in the best value superstar in the league in Captain John Tavares, Kyle Okposo’s break out year and talented young forwards like Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson and it’s not all doom and gloom for the club.
The club will likely get a good pick at either the upcoming draft, or the 2015 one, and despite having to sacrifice one pick or the other to Buffalo it should mean the addition of another good prospect.
IF Barroway does come in, and is perhaps willing to spend a little more, the Islanders could, finally, be on the right path again.
Last seasons post season appearance showed flashes of what this team could be – and whilst there are some obvious holes, and some obvious problems, the franchise finally feels like it’s on a more positive trajectory.
The roller coaster has taken its toll on many fans – leading to outrageous and over the top reactions to every high and low. Perhaps a little positivity, and even a little more certainty, can galvanise one of the leagues most passionate fan bases and bring Stanley Cup glory back to this grand old team.