Islanders’ move to the Barclays Center was hardly a smooth one

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This is part of New York Islanders day at PHT…

The New York Islanders completed their first season in their new digs in Brooklyn, but the move was hardly a smooth one. And there are still question marks surrounding the future of the club at the Barclays Center.

Example: Kyle Okposo, who is no longer with the Islanders after signing in Buffalo this summer, ripped the ice conditions at Barclays Center, calling them “awful” and that it has to change.

Scroll down even further, and the relationship, made official on a 25-year lease, between the Islanders and Barclays Center, with a capacity for hockey set at 15,795, has been tenuous for months.

From the New York Post in February:

Jonathan Ledecky — who heads a group of investors set to replace Wang as the team’s majority owner July 1 — apparently is listening. A source close to the Islanders and other industry sources say he’s enamored with possibly moving the team to Queens or back to Long Island.

In either scenario, a new arena likely would have to be built — an expensive proposition considering it cost $1 billion to open Barclays Center in 2012. Another option is renegotiating the Barclays Center lease to salvage the relationship, sources said.

In addition, there have been issues about seats with obstructed views and players forced to take the Long Island Railroad into Brooklyn from Long Island on game days.

Ledecky said, according to the New York Daily News, that “Barclays is our home.” However, toward the end of last month, a report surfaced in Bloomberg that the Islanders have been in talks with the New York Mets to build a rink next to Citi Field in Queens.

It’s been speculated that the Islanders may be using this as leverage to improve their agreement at the Barclays Center.

That report in Bloomberg also stated a decline in attendance, with the Islanders averaging 13,626 fans, a drop of 11 per cent from the 2014-15 campaign.

Again. This is Year One. And these developments breed uncertainty about the Islanders’ long-term situation in Brooklyn.

The Islanders have hit the 100-point plateau in each of the last two seasons. They made the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Their star John Tavares has two more years left on his current deal, which has a cap hit of $5.5 million. A pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017-18 season, he’s expressed that he “would love” to spend his entire career with the Islanders. And the new owners seem determined — as they should be — on keeping Tavares with the Islanders.

When it comes to the NHL standings, the Islanders have in recent years been able to build a playoff team, with Tavares as the centerpiece.

The Islanders’ situation at the Barclays Center, however, is definitely in fixer-upper territory. Lower attendance, poor ice conditions, obstructed views in certain seats, transportation issues and reports the Islanders may be looking for an out in Brooklyn all point to an off-ice outlook that doesn’t yet match the optimism surrounding the on-ice product.

If the first year is the foundation, it’s difficult at this point to be convinced the long-term relationship between the Islanders and the Barclays Center is set on solid ground.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.