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Gary Bettman says NHL will try to keep Islanders from moving

Aug 2, 2011, 6:46 PM EDT

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The negative results from Monday’s failed referendum to build a new arena for the New York Islanders was depressing in more ways than one. It wasn’t enough that the referendum reached a “No” verdict by an estimated 14 percent margin; the extra insult was the perceived malaise of indifference.

An estimated 100,000 voters cast their ballots, which is about one third of the typical turnout for November elections in that area, according to The Associated Press. There’s talk that the referendum was designed to take advantage of low voter turnouts, but it still didn’t work, which underscores the team’s dismal situation that much more.

However you slice it, the only question that really matters now is “what’s next?” While his support was a bit vague, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league will do its best to keep the Islanders from relocating once their arena deal expires in 2015.

Bettman said in a statement Tuesday that the league would work with the Islanders “to explore whatever options still may be available in light of what obviously is not a positive development. Our goal is for the team to remain on Long Island and we still hope that objective can be realized.”

There have been all kinds of ideas thrown around, from owner Charles Wang taking even more money out of his pocket to get the arena built, to funding through other private venues and the much-feared idea of relocating the team. However fans might feel about Wang, if his claims that he already lost $240 million running the team are accurate, it’s reasonable to expect him to have a breaking point. It might just be a matter of time before these setbacks force him to find some other way  to stay in Long Island, make a smaller move to somewhere close like Queens or Brooklyn or maybe even make a more dramatic move to Kansas City, Quebec or some other locale that wants an NHL team.

As Joe points out in his in-depth look at the bigger picture options, this isn’t the end of the road just yet. It’s just unclear if there’s a Lighthouse at the end of the tunnel anymore.

  1. nhlbruins90 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    It’s possible the intense focus on the debt disaster in Washington influenced the result in Long Island. In this economy, it was never possible that the referendum would pass.

    The best solution now seems to be Brooklyn or Queens. Why not make the most of the new arenas there, and keep the franchise close enough so the remaining Islander fans can continue to watch the team. Not a bad outcome actually.

  2. cavredleg15 - Aug 3, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    Isn’t there a brand new Arena being built in Brooklyn? I won’t claim to be an expert bus isn’t that result a hell of a lot better than having the Quebec(or wherever) Islanders

    • goforthanddie - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:11 PM

      Yes, yes there is. And some reports say it’s being built to accomodate hockey as well.

      • theghostofwillisreed - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:45 AM

        the nets have already stated that they are not interested in sharing the barclays center with a hockey team as a permanent tenant plus a spokesman stated yesterday that it would only seat roughly 14000 people for hockey making it the smallest hockey venue around with horrible sightlines.

        brooklyn isn’t happening.

        until the wilpons get their situation with madoff/picard sorted out, they won’t be going to queens either as the chop shop area outside of citifield would be the optimum place to put them.

        so queens is unlikely as well unless things change by 2015

        the islanders are either going to get something at the eleventh hour in nassau county or they’re gone.

      • goforthanddie - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:28 AM

        1-Seats don’t matter, suites do. That’s where your big money comes from and I’m sure the new arena will have plenty. Seating can be modified if need be.
        2-The Nyets may not want to share now. But if Wang gets tired of dealing with the hassles, a Russian billionaire would be the first person he should talk to about selling the team.
        3-NYC certainly doesn’t need 3 teams. Wang should start looking elsewhere, and Buttman should bugger off.
        4-I’m glad my last name isn’t Wang. Or Buttman.

      • theghostofwillisreed - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:13 PM

        prokhorov has already been asked and he said he has no interest in a hockey team. never mind the fact brooklyn is rangers country. the islanders would die a painful death in brooklyn. heck, there’s not guarantee the nets draw aside from knick fans looking for cheap seats for knicks-nets games.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 4, 2011 at 7:56 PM

      “I won’t claim to be an expert bus isn’t that result a hell of a lot better than having the Quebec(or wherever) Islanders”

      No it wouldn’t be, but care to explain why you think so?

  3. bcjim - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    If anyone finds my neck…please return it.

    G. Bettman

  4. goforthanddie - Aug 3, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    The locals won’t pay for a new arena. The locals won’t let Wang build it himself. Why in Hell does Buttman think they need a team? They obviously don’t want one.

    • derpdederpdederp - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM

      because it’s in the states. if they fail there God forbid someone might try to move them to a market in Canada where people actually want a team. he won’t let that happen again, once is more than enough

  5. derpdederpdederp - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    of course Gary will help. an American team in trouble? he’ll do everything he can to keep them there. a Canadian team? f*ck you, you’re gone. I think Hawaii is still a pretty lucrative and untapped hockey market. maybe the Islanders will go there, they wouldn’t even need to change their name

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