Role Reversals: New York Islanders and Long Island Rangers? MSG is on the Clock


Home of the Rangers?

The New York Islanders struggled to find a permanent home for over a decade. With over four decades of hockey played in the Nassau Coliseum, Long Island’s hockey team would be no more if they couldn’t find a new, state-of-the-art stadium to accommodate them. Of course, the Islanders finally cleared up the murky air about the future in October 2012, as they announced an agreement that would see them move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center at the end of the 2014-15 season.

After years of worrying, and after the endless taunts of “Kansas City” by their rival New York Rangers’ fans, Isles supporters were assured by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that they “don’t have to worry about the future of this team.”

In what may be an ironic twist, the New York Rangers may not be able to say the same.

On Wednesday, the New York City Council voted to limit Madison Square Garden’s permit at the current spot above Penn Station to 10 years. MSG, home of the Rangers since 1968, will move to another location after the 47-1 City Council vote limiting the arena’s permit.

Despite the arena being in the midst of a three-year renovation costing nearly $1 billion, the New York Rangers, like the Islanders before them, are in need of a new home. Of course, I don’t actually see the Rangers moving out of New York, but could Long Island be an option? The stars may be in the process of aligning.

The Islanders are leaving Nassau County for greener pastures in Brooklyn. Nassau County didn’t want them, and over a decade later, remains in the midst of selecting a final plan for the development of the Hub area; however, Plainview developer Donald Monti — selected by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano as the master developer of the soon to be vacant Hub area — on Monday endorsed the Madison Square Garden Company’s bid to overhaul the Coliseum. Combine this with the difficulty to find another place in the city that can hold a sports’ team, and, if MSG wins the bid to overhaul the Coliseum, the Rangers may not have a choice.

So, if the Rangers move to Long Island, what does that make the Brooklyn-bound “Fish Sticks?” Well, Rangers’ fans,  I will enlighten you. Over time, whether you like it or not, that move would make the much-ridiculed “Fish Sticks” the big fish in New York.

While the Rangers have been the better hockey team over the past decade, the Islanders are in the midst of a “changing of the guard” around these parts. John Tavares is New York’s most dynamic hockey player, the Islanders appear to be building a team for the long-haul, and, hey, maybe Henrik Lundqvist decides to jump ship in order to continue playing hockey under the bright lights of the city.  City-based fans will – and believe me, they will – hop on the bandwagon of the closest team to them, and if that team is the Islanders, than so be it.

If this becomes a messy situation however Rangers’ fans, understand that I feel your pain – us Isles’ fans struggled to come to terms with our arena issues for quite some time. However, please also understand that there are only a select few of you that will receive any type of sympathy.  If this swap happens prepare yourselves for a role reversal. The Rangers’ days as “big brother” would be no more, as the Islanders would reign supreme in New York.