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Poll: NHL Season Starts with Eyes on Isles

As the 2011-12 NHL season drops the puck, Islanders fans are wondering, 'is this the beginning of the end for the team in Nassau County?'

Like most other teams, much of the New York Islanders offseason was devoted to heavy speculation — only it wasn't over player contracts or major trades, but rather where the team would be playing after the Nassau Coliseum lease expires in 2015.

Back during the 2010-11 NHL All-Star Game, CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" and the NHLPA conducted a survey of more than 300 NHL players. One of the questions was, "What team would you least like to play on?"

The answer? With 27 percent of the vote, the Islanders.

The same Islanders have had the worst home attendance in four of the past six seasons, including the lowest of any team in the past six years during the 2010-11 campaign. The Isles averaged just 11,059 during games at the Coliseum last season — more than 1,000 less than the next closest team.

As for their actual on-ice play last season? While it improved — and is expected to continue to improve this season — the Isles finished dead last in the ever-competitive Atlantic Division for the fourth consecutive season. The team's claim to fame was a fight-filled, 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in February (see video), which saw a grand total of 346 penalty minutes handed out and drew a ton of criticism from around the league.

Most of the offseason was spent focused on an Aug. 1 referendum vote, which saw residents a referendum that called for a new arena built in Nassau County.

In September, it was reported that a group of developers, business leaders and community planners was proposing a of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and its surrounding 77-acre property. There has been no word on the progress thus far.

In her pre-referendum vote piece on Grantland, writer Katie Baker delved deep into the Islanders franchise and its problems over the last decade. Of the Coliseum, she wrote:

Built in 1972, the Coliseum is the second-oldest NHL arena behind only Madison Square Garden (which is currently undergoing extensive renovations that will span several summers.) The roof leaks. Chairs and fixtures are beginning to crumble. The air-conditioning system is wonky, and that means the ice surface is, too. If The Coliseum sounds like some sort of torture chamber that’s because it basically is, complete with a victim who has been chained up, ball-gagged, and held hostage for years within the arena's cold depths: the Islanders franchise.

With key players like John Tavares and all-star Michael Grabner, the 2011-12 season does look much brighter for the once great franchise — but will it translate into a new arena?

John Mirandy October 06, 2011 at 02:48 PM
There is a good hockey team there this year. They look much better than they have in years past and this could easily be a playoff team. I don't think they necessarily have to make the playoffs to get a new arena, but it wouldn't hurt. But like the article says, they have kids like Tavares and Grabner, and I think making Streit captain was a good move. Looking forward to the start of the season!
Ian Lozada October 06, 2011 at 03:06 PM
They'll be battling for 4th place of 5 teams in a difficult division, but it doesn't matter: this is the long goodbye for a team that simply doesn't fit in the modern sports landscape. Long Island is not big enough to support a major league sports franchise in a bad economy when there are so many other options for corporate sponsors. The Isles are the least visible of the metro area's 10 pro sports franchises, behind even Red Bull New York. Best to let them go somewhere like Quebec City where they'll be appreciated and well taken care of.
Michael Ganci (Editor) October 06, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Despite the fact that I am a Rangers' fan, I am very optimistic as to what the season will bring for the Islanders. I expect an eighth place finish.
John Mirandy October 06, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Yes, I agree with that. They are in a very difficult division, so that really doesn't help. People keep saying that Kansas City as a possible relocation, but I think things would be even worse there. I like Quebec City. Winnipeg is a perfect example of how well that relocation could work. I mean, I'd rather they stay here in Nassau, but after everything that's happened, I just don't know what will happen. Is that really true about the Red Bulls Ian?
James M. October 06, 2011 at 03:38 PM
The Islanders are not held captive the Coliseum reflects the state of the team since 1983. The defense leaks, the offense is beginning to crumble and the goal tending is wonky. On the other hand I do hope the current crop can actually play out of the basement.
Justin Izzo October 06, 2011 at 03:40 PM
The Islanders' thin defense and mess of a goaltending situation is too much of a question mark for me to be putting this team in the playoffs. Had they upgraded the D more significantly than just Steve Staios, they'd look better.
James M. October 06, 2011 at 03:41 PM
The islanders are the victim of bad management since they won the cup in 1983. If they were a competitive team year in and year out like the NY Rangers, they'd have the attendance and the attention of all of Long Island. The fact that they have played so poorly for the better part of 3 decades is the reason they didn't win the vote.
Mac October 06, 2011 at 05:44 PM
The Islanders have a chance to make the playoffs this year. It is a much improved team. The core continues to get better. Last year was a tough year because of all the injuries and one awful stretch. they finished the second half year with one of the best records in the NHL. Hopefully that can continue. AND since when are the underachieving Rangers a good team. With the amount of money spent there they should be a favorite every year.
Barry Gold October 06, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Wang shouldn't of never hired Milbury (coach Gm) and Don maloney before that was the worst GM hire in NHL history, ruined the franchise like no other in the 90's, figure he was an Ex Ranger.. and this Garth Snow now isn't much better...Giving an average DiPietro in goal a guaranteed fifteen year contract was a disgrace. They shouldn't have never fired Peter Laviolette as coach when they were going to the playoffs with him ten years ago. Problem is there are too many teams in the eastern conference in the NHL who are better run with higher expectations to think the Isles are going to be any serious threat for a long while in the east conf of the NHL.
Rich October 06, 2011 at 08:19 PM
mac and barry are typical Islander fans...the Rangers have been to the playoffs in 6 of the last seven seasons. Why would you turn this into a bashing session of the Rangers? Fans like you are the reason I don't go to that toilet to watch the Islanders! you should try supporting your team instead of bashing the Rangers...
James M. October 06, 2011 at 09:34 PM
High welcome to 2011 we have a salary cap Rangers can't spend ridiculous money anymore. Is it the Rangers fault the Wang won't pony up and pay........ Oh wait most players don't want to play for the Islanders unless they are at the end of their career or an RFA. Don't get me wrong Doug and Bill were great players but it wasn't like they had a lot of offers.
Barry Gold October 06, 2011 at 11:35 PM
didn't bash the Rangers. I bashed ex Ranger Don maloney who ruined the isles in the 90's as the GM!!!
Mac October 07, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Rich I do support my team but the Rangers are not what anyone would define as a successful franchise or do you want to compare cups? Good you dont go to the Isles Rangers games it is the worst gathering of fans on both sides for any sport. Both sides think it is OK to act like animals during this game. We will see how successful or not the Islanders are this year. That is why they play the games and each new year brings anticipation UNLESS your are a suffering Met fan.
Ian Lozada October 07, 2011 at 03:27 AM
John, Pretty much every RBNY game is either on MSG or national broadcasts through MLS's TV deal. The Islanders, in a non-NBA lockout year, are battling the Knicks, Rangers and Devils for a spot on television. Most of the games are either on MSG+ or you have to go channel hunting for where MSG+2 is. The Isles have one paper that covers them, RBNY is covered by nearly all the NY and NJ papers. And let's not forget that RBNY has the one thing the Islanders would kill for-- a brand spanking new state of the art stadium.
Rich October 07, 2011 at 01:05 PM
I am a suffering Met fan! I would go to Islander games just to watch some good hockey...it would not have to be against the Rangers...I like to take my son to hockey games in general, but we have a bad taste now do to a personal on-ice run in with DiPietro...what an ass! He managed to make my 13 year old goalie daughter cry at a goalie clinic he held for the Ladie Islanders. She ended up quiting the sport because of him! It was real satisfying seeing him get knocked out last year with one punch to his glass jaw!
Mac October 07, 2011 at 03:15 PM
DP is a very arrogant athlete. It is a shame because hockey players in general are usually good firendly people who love to talk with the fans. The islander fans can only look forward to how quick DP goes down so we can get some consistency back there. I think the over under is 5 starts. I am sorry for any Met fan you do understand pain.
Business Man October 07, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Rich is a typical Ranger fan. Year after year, overrated. Whoopie, they make 7th or 8th place often. Mediocrity. That's not the goal, the goal is to become a contender. Sometimes, that takes patience and suffering to build a good young team. Just like in 72'. I said it then and I will say it again... The Islanders will win the cup before the Rangers ever do. Mark it down, mRegarding "Supporting your team", maybe people like mac and barry do support their team. Unfortunately, there are too many people on LI (maybe like you?) who don't support our only team.
Business Man October 07, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Red Bulls, PLEASE. How many games do they play? It is easy to get bigger crowds when you play so much fewer games. Long Island is in the top 10 sized markets in US.That's fact.
James M. October 07, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I met Bill Guerin at the NYPD VS FDNY game this year. Really nice guy took the time to talk to my son and gave him some words of encouragement "Just go out and have whether it's hockey or any sport you play". My son still talks about him occasionally. I am Ranger fan. I was not involved in hockey 20 - 25 years ago when the Rangers and Islanders were fighting each other in the playoffs every year. I hate the Flyers but I respect the team they have put on the ice this year. I don't respect the Islanders because every year there is some drama that usually ends up with the Islanders in last place. DP is a joke. He was never really that good and Islander fans should never chant his name nor defend him. I think Nolan was a great coach and have no idea why they didn't keep him. I think what I am saying is that I feel sorry for Islander fans being a Mets fan (DP = Bonilla signing)but the mgmt is awful you kind of have to expect it.
Lloyd October 07, 2011 at 08:30 PM
The one Islanders constant over the past dozen years who is SOLELY responsible for their miserable plight is their arrogant and ignorant owner, Charles Wang. Is there an NHL owner who is more incomptent and with a worse success record than Wang? He is SOLELY responsible for selecting and retaining moronic GM's, making bad trades, bad signings, and ridiculous contracts. Now he is threatening to move the team if he doesnt get a new arena. How about a new owner snd a winning team BEFORE we invest our tax dollars into a sinking franchise led by a man who knows squat about hockey and even less on how to promote it.
Lloyd October 07, 2011 at 08:39 PM
BTW.....I was a rabid Islanders fan from their very beginning until they fell under the incompetent and embarrassing control of Wang and his flunky, Mike Milbury. They destroyed the franchise and its fan base, and drove me away. Over the last dozen years, I have become a rabid fan of a very sucessful and exciting NHL team...The NJ Devils.
James M. October 07, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Ooh Sorry. Without Claude Lemieux, "Wonderboy" is going to go back to his -20 per season ways. Better hope Parise signs a long term contract.
James M. October 07, 2011 at 09:15 PM
Agree 100%
James M. October 07, 2011 at 09:18 PM
The Rangers are a better all around team than the Islanders from front to back and have been since the lockout. Don't be jealous "Business man". It is very unsightly. As far as who will win the next cup between the two.............I have no idea. In the Salary Cap era any team can win the cup one year.
Matthew Hogan October 07, 2011 at 09:31 PM
Wang isn't threatening to move the team. He wants to stay on Long Island. While I don't necessarily agree with some of the moves they've made, I've honestly never seen a more devoted owner. Wang absolutely loves Long Island and he was genuinely heartbroken the night the referendum failed.
Lloyd October 07, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Matthew...you gotta be kidding. Wang is only about monet. He couldnt care less about tge Iskanders. Thats why they funidh ladt rvery year. He wants a mega compkex built at Mitchel Field and a new arena solely to make millions for himself instead of spending his own money for quality management and players for the Islanders. He's screwed his team just like he sxrewed hus oartners and inv
Lloyd October 07, 2011 at 10:24 PM
.......screwed his partners and investors at Computer Associates.
James M. October 07, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Matthew, in many articles he has alluded to moving the team. The fact that the NHL Board of Governors has last say in any movement of the team, makes it an empty threat. The NHL may make Wang sell the team to a better management team or agree to movement of the team to Canada to satisfy hockey fans up there. Who knows.
Matthew Hogan October 07, 2011 at 10:33 PM
As of last season, Wang had lost an average of $23 million per season since he bought them about 10 years ago -- that's not pocket change to anyone, even someone like Wang. You can't say he only cares about money. To be fair, most people only care about money -- I personally would have bailed after three seasons of that. But he's lost more money than I can count and that's because he truly wants to stay on Long Island.

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