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Brooklyn Probably Not Enough to Save the Islanders



By Mike Silva ~ October 25th, 2012. Filed under: NHL.

Brooklyn is back, or is it? After going 54 years without a pro team, the borough of churches now can claim two. Ok, maybe not officially until 2015, but pro sports will be a big part of Brooklyn’s culture for the first time since Willie, Mickey and the Duke were New York icons.

The Islanders join the Nets at the spanking new Barclays Center. I have expressed doubt the Nets can find success just a few miles away from the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” If anything, the Islanders would have a better shot, but nearly 20 years of losing may have damaged their brand irreparably.

The Isles haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, and haven’t won a playoff series since 1993. Every other team in this town has realized success since, with the Giants, Yankees and Rangers celebrating titles. A whole generation of fans has yet to see a successful Islanders season. When you add in the fact that hockey is fourth in the New York sports landscape, I wonder if it would have been better for Charles Wang to move the team somewhere new and start over.

The Islanders may be the greatest New York sports dynasty not named the Yankees. Under Al Albour, they won four-straight Stanley Cups from 1980-1983. During their dynasty run they would draw 15,000 fans to the Coliseum. Will those remaining fans make the trek to Brooklyn? Will it still feel like the team that produced stars such as Mike Bossy, Billy Smith and Dennis Potvin? I have my doubts.

There is also a branding problem. Yes, the name “Islanders” can expand to the five boroughs in addition to the Island. The team was born not as one for New York City- the Rangers didn’t want someone in their backyard – but rather as a team for Long Island. Their original name was rumored to be the Long Island Ducks. Last I looked, there aren’t many ducks walking down Atlantic Avenue.

Give Wang credit for keeping the name and history of the team intact. Economically he couldn’t compete playing in that building.  The problem is I just don’t see the Islanders connecting with Brooklyn. It’s also safe to say they will not steal one loyal fan of the Blueshirts.

It was a good move by Charles Wang to get out of an area that can’t support a professional team. He got it only half-right by and should have left the state altogether.

Even Brooklyn can’t save a brand that, unfortunately, was damaged a long time ago.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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