The Islanders And The Lockout: Looking Beyond 2015
The New York Islanders were already stuck with a major problem before the NHL lockout began; now that problem has only gotten greater.
There are only three seasons (the lockout included) scheduled until Charles Wang's Islanders will be in a new home. Whether that new home is the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a new or renovated arena developed at the Hub in Uniondale or Quebec, Seattle, or another city due to relocation is unknown. (Photo Credit: Nuke812/Flickr)
Despite the fan banter and lack of talks between the powers that be, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was accepting RFQ's to be granted permission to develop the site that holds the Nassau Coliseum. Some developers made it clear that they would want to keep the Islanders in their plans. However, there has been little discussion since then and it remains uncertain as to what will happen.
One things is for sure. In order to keep people interested in the future of the New York Islanders, the team has to be playing hockey. Good hockey. Hockey that puts fans in the stands and gives people a reason to turn to the right channel about three to four times a week.
The Islanders were starting to show signs of progress last year. Despite falling for another top-five draft pick, the Islanders were at one point only five points out of the playoffs near the end of the season. Although whether or not the Islanders were ready to qualify for the playoffs this year is an entirely different discussion in itself, there was reason to be optimistic about the direction that the team was heading.
But now we might not ever know what could have come to fruition.
The season hasn't been canceled...yet. If that ends up being the case, the Islanders will find themselves in a worse position than they are right now. And, unfortunately, this time it is a situation that is completely out of their hands.
Many may still remember how much of a hit the league took after losing an entire year of hockey in 2005. So many people stopped caring, especially fans in the New York area. When the news reported that the lockout had ended, many people made comments of "who cares?" and "hockey still exists?" The seats did not flood with fans at the drop of a dime. It took time.
And even then, with a team that was searching for a new identity after losing so many players to free agency, the seats didn't exactly fill up.
Even if the season isn't scrapped, a delayed start due to negative attention surrounding the NHL still doesn't help the Islanders. The time and preparation used during training camp; the development of chemistry between players; the benefit of having players performing on their contract years (such as Mark Streit, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Evgeni Nabokov) all gets cut short. Therefore, the positive attention the Islanders need gets cut short.
The Islanders will then only have two full season left to prove that they are worth keeping by the time the 2013-2014 season starts. The fans already know what they are worth. But it's the developers, the politicians that need the convincing.
If they didn't, a new building would have been built already.
The lockout not only needs to end for the benefit of the NHL, but it needs to end because the smaller market teams, the ones that the NHL has expressed concern over, are losing more money now than when the season was actually active.
The lockout means less revenue for the Islanders, less positive attention, less fans caring, and less reason to make a big deal about keeping them here.
After all, why keep this team in Nassau County if they're not going to play when they're supposed to?
This is one fan who is hoping that the lockout ends much sooner rather than later.