By Steve Silverman
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The news that the Islanders will be moving in three years to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was not unexpected.
However, it’s still big and it brings up a range of emotions.
The biggest and most interesting thing about it is the documented rise of this legendary borough has reached a near-renaissance level.
Brooklyn is viable from a national perspective for the first time in decades.
Oh, it was always vital to the metropolitan area, but the rest of the country thought about nothing but the place the Dodgers abandoned at the end of the 1957 season and the hard times that followed when Brooklyn was mentioned.
But now there’s an NBA team there and soon to be an NHL team.
That will be good for both franchises. The Nets have been one of the most anonymous teams in the NBA for years and now they will have an identity of their own. The Islanders were suffering in the behind-the-times Nassau Coliseum and they will be relevant again.
They will breathe down the Rangers’ necks and the rivalry will grow to a white-hot level once again. Free-agent players who never would have considered the Islanders as a viable outlet will give the team of Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Billy Smith real consideration.
The move for the Islanders may be just a distance of 29 miles, but it is light years in terms of relevance.
But can anyone really get excited about the move right now?
There is no hockey.
A week ago, it seemed like the NHL and the NHLPA were on a path to get this nasty lockout decided. The NHL had put out an offer that the NHLPA said it could work with and came back with a counteroffer.
But that wasn’t good enough for Gary Bettman. When Donald Fehr simply didn’t say, “gee, thanks” and roll over like a happy puppy who wanted to have his belly scratched, Bettman feigned mock indignation and threw up his arms.
The two sides have not met at the bargaining table since.
Fehr is an experienced labor leader and he wants to negotiate a fair deal. Bettman wants no such thing. He just wants the NHLPA to fall in line and accept what he offers.
He is ruining the National Hockey League.
But Bettman’s record is so consistent that it’s really not his fault. The NHL knows what Bettman is all about by now. This is the third lockout that he has presided over during his tenure as commissioner. He knows how to lock players out.
But if the NHL owners really want a season, they are going to let Bettman know that’s it’s time to back off from his pit bull routine. He grabs onto the pants legs and he doesn’t let go. He’s going to have to start negotiating like a real grown-up.
The NHL’s current stance is annoying, but it’s a lot worse than that. Hockey doesn’t have the long-term hold that football, basketball and baseball does. The NFL season is in full swing, baseball has the World Series and the NBA is preparing for the start of the season.
I’m hurting, you’re hurting and Boomer Esiason is hurting. The rest of the world that does not live and breathe hockey is not hurting.
Bettman doesn’t care that those who follow his sport may not follow it quite so closely when it finally returns.
If the sport loses another full season, who can predict where hockey will be on the sports ladder?
Bettman is clearly taking his sport’s status for granted.
So instead of celebrating the Brooklyn revival, it’s just one more day without hockey.
The sport does not have responsible leadership and it is suffering because of it.
Has the ongoing lockout ruined your excitement for Brooklyn’s soon-to-be hockey franchise? Vent away in the comments below!