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  • A Long (Island) goodbye? Print
    Columns
    Written by Denis Gorman   
    Monday, 30 April 2012 18:06

    The New York Islanders will see the lease at Nassau Coliseum expire following the 2014-15 season and the divorce of team from county is well underway.

    alt

    The divorce proceeding between has begun.

    Already, it has been predictably ugly. And the dissolution of this marriage promises to get much worse before the New York Islanders and Nassau County walk away from each other.

    The tenuous relationship between franchise and municipality may have been permanently fissured with Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray’s comments to Newsday reporter Patrick Whittle regarding the status of Nassau Coliseum.

    Nassau Coliseum, opened in 1972, is the second-oldest active arena in the NHL, behind only Madison Square Garden. The Islanders’ lease expires following the 2014-15 season, and both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and owner Charles Wang have publicly vowed the franchise will not play in the decaying arena after the lease is up. 

    Islanders general manager Garth Snow compared the arena to “an Auto Lodge,” during a press conference prior to the start of the Islanders’ 2010 training camp, and said the building’s lack of amenities made it impossible for the Islanders to compete in the free agent market. That has led to the Islanders having the lowest average cap hit and lowest average salaries the last four seasons.

    The once bore the moniker Fort Neverlose during the dynasty days. Now it could now be re-titled Camp No One Shows Up. The Islanders’ 28th-ranked attendance in 2006-07 was their highest post-lockout.

    Murray told Whittle that the Town of Hempstead “adopted our zone for the Coliseum area. Because this was such a jewel in the crown property, we created a zone that is sustainable from an economic standpoint. We want the visionaries, the landowners, Nassau County, to have as much flexibility as they seek a developer.

    “We don’t make it a dead requirement that Nassau Coliseum be demolished or refurbished. We’re willing and able to segregate it out. We specifically don’t want to impose a vision. We want good commerce that we can sustain. Nassau County has the prerogative to create the vision. We have our prerogative as zone-okayers,” Murray said.

    She also took a pointed and calculated shot at the Islanders, who haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2007.

    “These are low days for the NHL,” Murray said. “With the Rangers, it’s exciting.”

    Murray’s comments to Newsday came a week after Bettman told the Associated Press Sports Editors that the Islanders and league are “continuing to explore and look at the options. But it’s clear that Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead don’t seem to be invested in having a new arena in the place that probably makes the most sense, namely where the Nassau Coliseum is.”

    The league, the Islanders, the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County are engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken; one in which neither side has shown any inclination to find common ground outside of collective agreement that the Coliseum’s usefulness in 2012 is roughly equivalent to that of the Conestoga wagon.

    Yet the end game will see the Islanders leave a region in which they were once an integral part of its fabric.

    *****

    Pathetic Neanderthals spewed racist garbage via social media platforms directed toward Joel Ward after the Washington Capitals right wing scored the Game 7 overtime and Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series-winning goal against the Boston Bruins last Wednesday night.   

    Yet Ward’s response to the bigots — his teammate left wing Jason Chimera, correctly termed the bigots as “idiots out there who ruin a beautiful moment for someone,” following the Capitals’ practice Friday at Kettler Iceplex — was proof again that class supersedes idiocy.

    You can follow us on Twitter @HockeyPrimeTime and @DenisGorman

    Photos by Getty Images
     

    Comments (2)

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    It's probably gotten to the point that most area residents wouldn't care or even notice if the Islanders left Long Island. They've been severely mismanaged for over a decade now. The new Brooklyn arena might be a good fit, if it had enough seating.

    The Isles only need to look out west at Phoenix to see how a team with a shaky ownership situation and cloudy future can still field a competitive roster if it is well managed.
    Bill , May 01, 2012
    Brooklyn
    It can hold 14,500 but one would have to believe that that is their best option at this point. Or at least a temporary solution.
    Sam , May 01, 2012

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    Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 03:00