Say hello to the Brooklyn Islanders. Or maybe it’ll be the New York Islanders that play in Brooklyn. (Update: It will still be the New York Islanders.)
Regardless, the Islanders are moving to Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season and beyond. The club will make the announcement this afternoon at the Barclays Center.
It’s an announcement many didn’t expect to happen so soon. The Isles’ lease at the aging Nassau Coliseum doesn’t expire until the end of the 2014-15 season; however, after trying to get a new arena built for years, apparently owner Charles Wang has decided to go with Plan B.
The Islanders’ name and logo will remain unchanged.
As it currently exists, the Barclays Center is not an ideal NHL venue. It was built for basketball and is now home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Its capacity for hockey is just 14,500, which would make it the smallest venue in the NHL.
Whether anything can be done to make the building more hockey friendly isn’t clear. Its horseshoe seating configuration would certainly make it unique.
Attending today’s announcement will be Wang, Barclays Center majority owner Bruce Ratner, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, Islanders general manager Garth Snow, and Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark.
Ratner has aggressively courted the Islanders to make Barclays Center their new home.
What does it mean for the team? Fans will hope it’s a return to the glory years of the 1970s and 1980s — the club won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. But since 1988, the Isles have missed the playoffs in 16 of 23 seasons and advanced past the first round just once.
The Islanders had the lowest payroll in the NHL last season, according to CapGeek.