Still hope for the Islanders
Team isn't doomed for relocation
LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
|Nassau County rejected New York Islanders owner Charles Wang's plan for a new arena in a public referendum Monday.
TORONTO - The end of the New York Islanders’ latest scheme for a new arena doesn’t mean the one-time dynasty is doomed to relocation.
With four more seasons before the lease expires at the Nassau Coliseum (if that ancient barn doesn’t collapse first) the team can either dream up another re-development plan for its current home or look elsewhere in the New York area to build or partner.
The timing of Monday’s vote to borrow $400 million US was thought to be perfect, a stand-alone referendum in August. But coming right after a perilous fight over national debt at the federal level, taxpayers in red-inked Nassau County rejected the plan by around 20,000 votes. Owner Charles Wang and county executive Edward Mangano had hoped new jobs and revenue sharing to re-pay the cost would win the day.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was quick to shore up support for the Isles’ future, but conceded Monday’s no vote did not help.
One option is to play in neighbouring Brooklyn, where the new Barclays Center will open next year. It will seat up to 18,000 for basketball, but a recent change in design brings the potential hockey capacity to only 14,500 — about 1,500 less than the Coliseum.
Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center, assured Newsday that the rink could handle an NHL team, but the seating issue is a potential deal killer. The Isles’ old territorial agreement with the Rangers allows them to set up as close to Manhattan as the boroughs of Brooklyn or Queens.
Much now depends on the team’s performance. If the Isles lose potential free agents because of the rink uncertainty, they’ll continue languishing at the bottom of the standings and attendance will keep suffering. But if their patient rebuilding plan holds, they will be a franchise worth saving in a couple of years.
Kesler's hip gets snip
Ryan Kesler, who seemed destined for the Conn Smythe Trophy midway through last season’s playoffs, underwent hip surgery on Tuesday and could miss the start of the Vancouver Canucks’ regular season.
Kesler had repair work done to cartilage around the ball and socket joint. The injury was clearly nagging the dominant centre as the playoff marathon continued. Canucks’ general manager Mike Gillis said the decision to operate was made after several consultations and that Kesler would miss 10 to 12 weeks. A full recovery is expected.
Once again, winger Teemu Selanne is taking his sweet time deciding on another year in the NHL. Not 100% convinced that his sore left knee will be up to the task, Selanne has been skating in Finland following arthroscopic surgery.
His own July 1 deadline is long gone, but Selanne often drags these things out and has indicated he’ll only play for the Anaheim Ducks if he comes back at all. Selanne, who just turned 41, had 80 points in 73 games last year and 1,419 total in 1,370 regular season and playoff games.
The Canadiens will be going to a resort in the Collingwood area north of Toronto after their last exhibition game Oct. 1, spending a few bonding day before facing the Leafs in the season opener on Oct. 6...Kings’ star Anze Kopitar has recovered from major ankle surgery in March and has been cleared for full workouts... Bryan Little has decided not to press the Jets to keep his No. 10 from Atlanta, which was retired in Winnipeg in tribute to Dale Hawerchuk. With the original Jets’ history ‘owned’ by Phoenix, Little was under no obligation, but bowed to team history. Evander Kane, meanwhile, is seeking Bobby Hull’s blessing to wear the Golden Jet’s retired No. 9...Defenceman Stuart Percy and forward Greg McKegg are the two Leaf draft picks among 47 players now in Edmonton for Team Canada’s summer evaluation camp for the world junior tournament.