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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?

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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