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Isles confident Brooklyn move will attract players

Wednesday, 10.24.2012 / 4:49 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Isles confident Brooklyn move will attract players
The Islanders believe playing in a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility will greatly help lure free agents to the team.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow has one fewer question to answer now, and it is a major load off his shoulders.

No longer will Snow have to find his way around one of the most explosive and paralyzing land mines he comes across during the free-agent signing period. He is always asked, "Where will the Islanders be playing in 2015?" The answer he can give is finally a good one.

Owner Charles Wang announced Wednesday that the Islanders will be moving to the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which is less than 30 miles from the antiquated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, starting with the 2015-16 season.

"It's a long time coming. Charles [Wang] exhausted a lot of avenues and tried everything. Time is of the essence. With each day that passed you gained more of a percentage and risk of having to move this storied franchise to not just a different place, but a different state, perhaps a different country. Charles is a Long Islander. He wants it here. We consider this a great success and victory."
-- Doug Weight on the Islanders move to Brooklyn

The Islanders will honor the final three years of their lease at Nassau Coliseum before beginning a 25-year lease to play at Barclays Center, the home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.

"It saves one question for me, and absolutely it's a big one," Snow said after the gala announcement Wednesday at Barclays Center. "Obviously we get a lot of certainty now. To be able to stay in the area and play in this facility is just fantastic."

A few hours before the press conference, the Islanders' staff, including Snow, coach Jack Capuano and assistant coach and senior adviser to the GM Doug Weight, got their first tour of Barclays Center.

They were impressed.

"There is no question that when we go to other arenas that you can see players look around, players talk to players and they see the certain elements that those new arenas have," Capuano told NHL.com. "This is a beautiful new facility and our players will be extremely proud to call this our home."

Weight, a veteran of 19 NHL seasons, said he always appreciated playing in the old barns like Nassau Coliseum, but added that certainty always outweighs history.

"There's nothing like playing in an old building in front of a sold-out crowd, but the fact is when you call somebody they ask, 'Where is my family going to be in two years? Am I going to be moving to Quebec? How do I sign a five-year deal when I don't know if we'll stay there?'" Weight told NHL.com.

"These athletes are people. They have families. They have things that are important to them," Weight continued. "Winning is certainly high on that board, but they want to know where they're going to be. Now they know they're going to be in New York, in Brooklyn, in one of the great markets in the world, an accessible building, a beautiful, brand-new facility with a team and ownership that wants to win.

"To say it solidifies us would be an understatement."

Commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged that the move would help the Islanders in their attempt to attract players.

"There is no question that when we go to other arenas that you can see players look around, players talk to players and they see the certain elements that those new arenas have.  This is a beautiful new facility and our players will be extremely proud to call this our home." -- Jack Capuano on Barclays Center

"I know for a fact that they've tried to recruit free agents and have been having trouble doing it because of the facility they've been playing in," he said.

Weight and Capuano defended Wang's decision to move the team to Brooklyn after years of failed attempts to build a new arena for the team in Nassau County -- the Islanders have played at Nassau Coliseum since entering the NHL in 1972.

"It's a long time coming," Weight said. "Charles exhausted a lot of avenues and tried everything. Time is of the essence. With each day that passed you gained more of a percentage and risk of having to move this storied franchise to not just a different place, but a different state, perhaps a different country. Charles is a Long Islander. He wants it here. We consider this a great success and victory."

And a load off Snow's shoulders.

"We needed a day like today, to have a first-class facility," Snow said. "As much as it is a unique experience playing in Nassau Coliseum, we were in dire need of a day like today."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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