Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is game for hockey; Islanders’ future home?


While the Islanders and owner Charles Wang are trying to figure out what their Plan C is going to be as far as getting a new arena for the team after the arena referendum was shot down last week, their answer might lie to the west of Nassau County. No, we don’t mean Kanasas City either.

The Barclays Center is currently under construction in Brooklyn and will be the future home of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. While the arena is rising in the New York City borough, some who are hopeful of keeping the Islanders in New York are pointing at Barclays Center as the place Wang should start taking a look at to bring the Islanders to.

Of course, the question that came up immediately was whether or not Barclays Center would be able to hold a NHL rink without any issues. After all, Barclays Center is being built specifically with basketball in mind and the hardwood takes up much less space than a rink. Fear not fans in New York, Barclays Center is good to go just in case the Islanders interests point towards Hipsterville, USA in Brooklyn. The New York Daily News’ Mark Morales is on the story.

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark isn’t ruling out a move to the new arena.

“The Barclays Center will have an ice rink that can support professional hockey,” Yormark said in a written statement. But, he added, “Our primary focus at the moment is to build the best sports and entertainment venue in the world.”

Local fans hope a move to the heart of Brooklyn will bring back the team’s magic.

In case you’re wondering, Brett Yormark is the brother of Florida Panthers president Michael Yormark. We’re sure he’s heard all about how great hockey is during the holidays.

Giving the Islanders an option that will be already built and ready to go once the Islanders’ lease with Nassau County Coliseum is up in 2015 gives Wang something to aim for should things get desperate. While Wang is being courted by neighboring Suffolk County for a potential landing place for the Islanders’ new arena, Barclays Center would give the Isles a prime location to fall into should things not pan out elsewhere on Long Island.

Brooklyn does have a vague history with professional hockey. From 1924 to 1942, the Brooklyn Americans (aka: New York Americans) called New York City home. The Americans, however, only practiced in Brooklyn and called Madison Square Garden home for their games along with the Rangers. We’re thinking that the same sort of arrangement these days would result in a constant turf war between Rangers and opposing fans. That said, having the Islanders be a bit closer to New York City and away from Long Island would make Rangers-Islanders games all the more hotly contested on the ice and in the stands. That’s rather terrifying.

This wouldn’t be an ideal plan for Wang, however, as he’s insistent on keeping the team on Long Island and closer to the majority of the team’s fan base. If things break down into further political battles across both Nassau and Suffolk Counties and Wang gets tired of the rat race there, picking things up and moving them to Brooklyn would be a better move than going to Quebec City or anywhere else eager to land a team.

Burning bridges with the fans you do have like that is something only every other team that’s relocated has done and ticking off Long Islanders doesn’t sound like a good move, question is would Isles fans trek to Brooklyn to watch their team on a regular basis?

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado