The Brooklyn Islanders: what's left to lose?
A note from Capital co-founder Josh Benson, written for our once-a-week newsletter, which features exclusive notes from editors, must-read links, deals from sponsors, news about Capital and more. Sign up for it here.
On Long Island, when I was little, the Islanders were sort of a big deal.
Everyone liked them. There were a few kids at my school whose dads made them be Rangers fans, plus one teacher and one custodian, and we all understood that this was something to be mocked. 1940!
It wasn't just that the Islanders were incredibly local. (Seriously, you couldn't avoid them: My friend Tommy's newspaper route included Bobby Nystrom's house; later, Tommy and I got after-school telemarketing jobs in an office with Clark Gillies.) It was that, around the time my friends and I got old enough to become obsessive about sports, the Islanders had gotten into the habit of winning the Stanley Cup every year. Caring about ice hockey, for a while, was a real thing out there; even in the late '80s, it still seemed like every other car where I lived had a fading "Drive for Five" sticker on the back bumper.
It seemed normal at the time. What did we know?
A Times report today on a deal between Islanders owner Charles Wang and Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner to move the team to Brooklyn asserts that the move would be a blow to Long Island's "civic pride," although I'm not even sure about that.
The team hasn't won a championship since 1983, and attendance at Nassau Coliseum has been dismal for years. There's still a small, intense constituency for the Islanders out in Nassau, and those loyal fans (bless 'em!) will no doubt miss the team when it's gone. But the cup-years bandwagon hockey fans (like me and most of my friends) lost interest ages ago.
This move ostensibly became inevitable only last August, when voters in Nassau County overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to spend $400 million on a new arena out there to replace the "Mausoleum." But really, the Islanders were already gone.
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