NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Islanders’ problems during their first season in Brooklyn have been overstated, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday.
Since the Isles‘ moved to Barclays Center last fall, some fans have complained about traditions being lost while others have complained about seats with obstructed views. It has been noted time and time again that the arena was never built to accommodate hockey.
But Bettman, appearing as a guest on Mike Francesa’s WFAN show, said an acclimation period was always to be expected.
“I think that’s a bit of what happens when a team changes its arena,” Bettman said. “I’ve seen it in other markets where there’s a new arena built. Change is something you have to adjust to.”
When asked if he believes Barclays is an acceptable hockey venue, Bettman answered: “Compared to the Nassau Coliseum, you bet. I mean, it’s comfortable. You can get fed without standing on line for two periods. You can go to the restroom”
Bettman didn’t suggest the situation is perfect, however. He said there are obstructed seats “but we knew that going in” and added that Barclays Center officials are working to adapt to having a hockey team while fans are continuing to adjust to life in Brooklyn.
The commissioner noted that the Islanders’ home attendance figures are comparable to what they were at Nassau Coliseum two seasons ago. He attributed last year’s spike in attendance to nostalgic fans wanting to see the Islanders play during their last season at Nassau Coliseum.
When asked if the Islanders’ new owners are happy with the situation, Bettman said: “I assume so. They’re not complaining to me about it.”
Bettman also discussed issues such as player safety and instant replay. To listen to the full interview, click on the audio player above.
The Islanders open the playoffs Thursday at Florida.