By Ted Cabata, Staff Writer
In an incredible start to the season, the Hurricanes came out firing battering down on New York, New Jersey, and Washington. Oh sorry, wrong Hurricane, but we here at the Sunbelt Hockey Journal hope everyone on the east coast is staying safe as Hurricane Sandy makes its impact felt over the next few days.
Unfortunately, now I have to tell you that there is no real start to the season. The owners have cancelled more games so the hopes of having a full 82 game season are now officially gone. I don’t think anyone who has been following the lockout is too shocked by a full season being eliminated. I’ve said in many posts that I don’t see a season starting before January 1 and I’m still holding out hope for that to happen. But I will admit it still stings a bit to know I won’t be seeing as much hockey as I would like this year.
Also this week, the New York Islanders announced that they would be moving to Brooklyn to play in the new Barclay Center that is opening. I know this isn’t a Sunbelt Team, but I bring up the announcement because its timing and ramifications on the NHL are important for anyone following the lockout.
For years the NHL has fought to keep the Barclay Center out of play for The Isles. The hope has been they could land a deal to get their own new arena staying further out on Long island and avoiding having to move into a what will now be the smallest arena in the NHL. What’s interesting about the move is that the islanders won’t start until 2014-2015, even though the Barclay Center is opening and ready to go this year.
Why wait two full seasons to move across the island? And better yet, why make a decision when hockey isn’t even being played? My belief is this is just a PR stunt by the owners to A) get the islanders their own arena finally and more importantly B) a new reason to cry poverty to the players union. The idea that the islanders would be playing in a smaller arena means they will take in less money and therefore would need more shared revenue from the bigger clubs to stay afloat, especially in a high priced city like New York. If the owners will need to share more with yet another small market team, guess where that money will need to come from? The players.
Will the Isles actually play a game in Brooklyn, only time will tell, but I think the move finally happened so the owners had yet another chip to throw down on the bargaining table.
Another reason I don’t buy the move as anything more than a PR stunt is the fact that not once has Phoenix been allowed to explore playing in a smaller stadium. Building a 14000-15000 seats stadium in Phoenix that would be closer to what the isles will have and what Winnipeg has would make sense. It would cost the city less money, which has been a big issue all along and it would allow the fan base to grow in a more comfortable setting. So why hasn’t the NHL used that as a way to save the franchise? Mainly because the NHL doesn’t want smaller arenas and is allowing a team in a major market to try and get attention for the owner’s plight and the NHL itself while the lockout continues.
As far as Phoenix goes, things have remained quiet in the desert but quiet is better than hearing news that the team is going somewhere. Hopefully they can get a deal done to stay in the city as soon as possible but until then hopefully they can look toward the islanders and realize there are other options out there.