By Peter Schwartz
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There are three sure things in life. They would be death, taxes and the fact that many Islanders fans will be angry at me after they read this blog.
Isles fans have been doing a lot of complaining since the team announced in October 2012 that it would be relocating to Brooklyn. Granted, there’s been plenty to be disgusted about in terms of the on-ice product since the team last won a playoff series in 1993, and there’s good reason for Islanders fan to be unhappy about the move to Brooklyn.
But on Tuesday, Islanders fans embarrassed themselves on social media by complaining about the team’s new goal horn. Not a player transaction, not a new jersey, not obstructed view seats. A goal horn.
This is what Islanders fans are upset about?
Let me start by saying that I’m still trying to come to grips with the fact that the Islanders have left Long Island for Brooklyn. It’s still mind-boggling to me that my 10-minute drive to the Nassau Coliseum is being replaced by a 50-minute or so LIRR ride to Barclays Center.
Like many Islanders fans, I feel a great sense of anger that the team was unable to strike a deal with Nassau County for a new arena that would have kept the team where it belong: on Hempstead Turnpike. The blood is on the hands of the politicians that allowed it to happen — not Islanders owner Charles Wang, who tried for many years to secure a new home but kept hitting roadblocks.
So when you hit a roadblock, you have to take a detour.
Luckily for Islanders fans, the detour is only about 30 miles west. It could have been worse. Thank God for Barclays Center, because had Bruce Ratner not had the vision to build that state-of-the-art arena for the Nets, the Islanders’ detour may have taken them out of the area completely.
Jets fans found their way to the Meadowlands in 1984 after leaving Shea Stadium, and that required crossing state lines into New Jersey. Hopping on the LIRR to Brooklyn for an Islanders game doesn’t seem like that big of an inconvenience when you think about having to sit through hours of traffic coming home from a football game.
Understandably, this is going to be an adjustment for Islanders fans. Even a new Nassau Coliseum would have taken some getting used to because it wouldn’t have been the barn. Change can be hard, especially when it means the end of a 43-year tradition.
But tradition now has a new home, and with that comes some new ways of doing business. So far, business has been good.
The Islanders have exceeded expectations in terms of season-ticket sales, and there’s still a good chunk of customers that will be coming from Long Island. From a personal standpoint, I won’t be able to go to as many games as I have in the past, but it’s encouraging to see that the team will be well-supported in Brooklyn.
Many fans were not happy when the team released the new third jersey. I have to admit that when I saw the leaked photo of the black jersey, I hated it.
But when the Islanders unveiled the jerseys — with all the trimmings — on their website and on social media, I had a change of heart. We all knew it was going to be black to match their co-tenants, the Nets, but there was certainly a sense of shock when it became reality.
But the reaction to the new goal horn was just flat-out ridiculous. Now Islanders fans are looking for things to get upset about. I’ve probably watched the video with the new goal horn that Barclays Center tweeted 100 times, and I’m still trying to figure out what the big fuss is about.
In my opinion, it’s kind of cool that they have found a way to mesh the goal horn with a train. I mean, that’s how most people are going to get to the games.
I think it’s great that the team is trying to build relationships and grow its brand with the move to Brooklyn, and the partnership with the MTA on developing the new goal horn is an example of that.
And let’s be honest. Who really cares about the goal horn? If you hear the goal horn more times than the groans from the crowd when the other team scores a goal, that means the Islanders won the game. That’s the most important thing. I think everyone is losing sight of the big picture here.
The Islanders are a good team. They made the playoffs last year and two times in the last three seasons. The future is bright. Not to disparage Wang and his efforts over the years, but there will be new, energetic majority owners coming in next season. That will also be a huge boost to the franchise.
Among the things to be concerned about if you’re an Islanders fan, the goal horn is so insignificant.
How about the loss of defenseman Thomas Hickey for a month with an upper-body injury? Does rookie Ryan Pulock fill the void on the blue line, or do they turn to Brian Strait?
When the dust settles, who will play alongside captain John Tavares? It looks like it will be Anders Lee and Ryan Strome, but what if GM Garth Snow swings a deal?
What will the leash be like on head coach Jack Capuano? If the Islanders don’t get off to a good start, will the team make a change?
But we’re worried about what the goal horn sounds like, and not what goes into making that horn go off or preventing the opponent’s goal music from playing. Among all the changes that the Islanders and their fans will endure as a result of the move to Barclays Center, I hope this is the worst thing we have to concern ourselves with.
I hated it when the Jets left Shea Stadium after the 1983 season and moved to New Jersey. But they were my team and I was still able to follow them, go to games and watch them on television. It’s the same feeling with the Islanders going to Brooklyn. I’m not thrilled about it, but the alternative would have really stunk.
I’m grateful that I can still be an Islanders fan, and you have to admit that the team hasn’t seen this kind of marketing in quite a while. I don’t care where they play, what color they wear or what kind of food is available at the concession stand.
I just want them to win.
If you’re worried about a goal horn, you’re just blowing smoke! As they say in Brooklyn, fuggedaboutit!