Where the Islanders will play in the next couple of years is still very much up in the air
However, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was very clear on where he thinks the Islanders will not be playing.
Speaking at the Winter Classic press conference today at Citi Field, the commissioner kept reiterating when asked about the Islanders old home, “I don’t see the Nassau Coliseum as a viable option.”
And that’s even on a temporary basis if the Islanders were building a new home, say at Belmont Park.
According to the commissioner, the Islanders are looking at their options right now when it comes to a new arena and they are being advised by Jeff Wilpon, the COO of the Mets, who was also on hand today.
“We are working with the Islanders and it’s their call,” Wilpon said. “They have a bunch of good options and we see how it plays out.”
The renovated Nassau Coliseum, though, has not been brought to the leagues attention, nor has the original proposal for six games to be played there.
According to the deal between Nassau County and the Barclays Center, who oversaw the renovation and running of the Coliseum, if the Islanders do not play six regular season games at the arena, then they need to pay a $1 million penalty to the county.
Nothing was about this move was proposed to the league, according to Bettman.
The Islanders moved to Barclays Center two years ago, after vacating their original home since 1972. Because Barclays was built for basketball, it lacks the sightlines for the fans and also the NHL standard equipment to freeze the ice.
And because it’s built over a train station, the ice tends to get rather slushy making it hazardous for the players.
New owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin are looking for other options as we speak, as the Barclays Center is reportedly looking to renegotiate or even exercise the out clause in the lease with the Islanders.
Bettman was speaking at the Winter Classic press conference, which will feature the Rangers taking on the Buffalo Sabres on New Year’s Day. Although the Rangers needed to be a part of it, the Islanders and New Jersey Devils were not considered, because the league wanted two television markets featured.
“The Islanders and Devils are great franchises and an integral part of the league, but this is a nationally televised game,” Bettman said. “We had to weigh that in doing it.”