When it comes to the greatest rivalries in the NHL, the one that the New York Rangers and New York Islanders share is a special one.
Chances are, if you are a fan of one of these teams, than you absolutely despise the other given what has happened throughout the course of the rivalry.
However, there is actually something that both Rangers and Islanders fans agree on, and that is that the Islanders moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the 2014-15 season is the right one.
For the Islanders franchise, this was simply a long time coming. The team’s current arena, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, has been the franchise’s home since its inception in 1972, and since that time has not seen many upgrades.
“The Barclays Center will provide the Islanders with nicer facilities for a team that had a lot of prominence at one point in time,” Scott Wasilewski, host of the Face-Off Hockey Show and blogger for The Strangest One of All. “It seemed like a no-brainer from start to finish.”
Denise Karl, a longtime Islanders’ fan and blogger for NY Islanders 7th Woman, believes that for the Islanders, there was nothing else they could do to stay in Nassau.
“The Isles organization had no choice”, Karl said. “They ran out of options when Nassau County voted down the referendum.”
Of course, one cannot forget that just a subway ride away is Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers. One Blueshirt fan and blogger, James Wrabel of The New York Rangers Blog (not owned or affiliated with the actual team), agrees with Karl that the Islanders had their hand forced while also feeling that is the right way to go.
“Overall, it’s the right move,” Wrabel said. “Nassau Coliseum is in tatters and the local government in that area has essentially forced the Islanders out.”
Another point that both Karl and Wrabel echoed is that the Islanders will now be in a state-of-the-art arena, something the Islanders have never really played in.
“It will give Charles Wang a better revenue stream and perhaps fewer expenses,” Karl explained. “They will have some stability in their marketing efforts to both prospective players and fans.”
Like Karl, Rangers’ blogger Michael Rappaport of The New York Hockey Journal, Blueshirt Banter and The Hockey Writers, believes that the move to Brooklyn is an extremely wise business move.
“From the business side, the Islanders will be a stronger competitor in terms of acquiring sponsorships and corporate sponsors,” Rappaport said. “The arena has a number of suites, and with the arena in closer proximity to Manhattan than Nassau Coliseum is, more companies will be interested in securing suites.”
There is no doubt, however, that this move will be tough on many Long Islanders, something that Karl clearly realizes.
“Many of the team’s long established fans may feel alienated from the distance, even if it is only 28 miles West of the current barn,” Karl said.
While something like that would normally be an opportunity for a Rangers’ fan to jump on the club’s attendance issues, Wrabel took the high road and even offered a look at the bright side for the team and its fan-base.
“If the Islanders improve into a contender as they head into Barclays, they pose a threat in terms of competing with the Blueshirts for free agents,” Wrabel said.
The last thing that both Rangers’ and Islanders’ fans could agree on regarding the move was that it keeps the Islanders in New York, where they belong.
“Even though I’m definitely not an Islanders fan, I love the Rangers-Islanders rivalry,” Rappaport admitted. “The Isles move to Brooklyn will keep that rivalry alive.”
Like Rappaport, Wrabel feels that it was important to keep the Islanders in the Big Apple.
“Charles Wang did his due diligence to keep the franchise local as he could’ve easily closed up shop and shipped off to Kansas City or Quebec, but kept his fans interests at heart,” Wrabel said. “It’ll take some adjusting, but Islanders fans will realize eventually this was the necessary move.”
Karl sums it up nicely for us.
“The Islanders’ franchise wanted to stay in the tri-state area and this was their only option to do so,” Karl said.