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A tree grows in Brooklyn ... and a hockey team moves there

October 24, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Barclays Center in Brooklyn is the future home of the New York Islanders.
Barclays Center in Brooklyn is the future home of the New York Islanders. (Henny Ray Abrams / Associated…)

The NHL’s New York Islanders, unable to work out a deal to renovate or replace the Nassau Coliseum, announced Wednesday they will join the NBA’s Nets in moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Islanders announced a 25-year agreement to play in the new arena, which will seat only about 14,500 people for hockey.

The move will take effect for the 2015-16 season. Cue the jokes about whether the NHL, which locked players out on Sept. 15 and on Tuesday declined an invitation from the players’ union to restart negotiations, will have resumed play by the time the Islanders’ move becomes official.

Brooklyn has had hockey before: The now-defunct New York Americans called themselves the Brooklyn Americans for a season, even though they only practiced there and played their home games at Madison Square Garden.

As a Brooklyn native who grew up hearing stories about the Dodgers’ desertion, I’m happy for the reverse migration back to Brooklyn by the Nets and, now, the Islanders. But as a former employee of Long Island-based Newsday and witness to some of the Islanders great Stanley Cup moments, I feel for the fans on Long Island who are losing their team.

Geographically, Brooklyn isn’t that far from the Islanders’ current home in Uniondale. But psychologically it’s a big leap for a lot of folks and many are unlikely to make the trip.

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