The New York Islanders made a contentious move to Brooklyn from their longtime home at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Islands last year. The move was met with a lot of consternation from fans, but the move still potentially haunts them as free agency is set to open up.
Free agency negotiations started three days ago and already the New York Islanders prospects of landing a coveted free agent are being questioned. Larry Brooks of the New York Post quotes sources that tell him free agents are staying away from the Islanders.
Brooks write: “[…]one agent with a marquee stable of players has told Slap Shots that he would not recommend that his clients sign with the Islanders as a result of the bad ice conditions at Barclays during the playoffs that he deemed “dangerous.””
If true that definitely hurts. Brooks goes on to state that money can cure some of these worries. But paying a premium because of perceived poor ice conditions isn’t something the Islanders will likely entertain in free agency negotiations.
Islanders Free Agency Woes
At to this a report put out by ESPN’s Craig Custance that states the New York Islanders are third [subscription required] in a poll of ten agents who were asked to rank the teams players most frequently include in their no-trade lists.
There’s no sense that the ice is the direct reason for the Islanders placing so low. Rather it’s likely a number of factors that attribute to it. Low attendance, the distance between the practice and playing rink, and perhaps the ice.
What the poll does reveal is just how attractive Brooklyn is to players. It just isn’t. Players don’t really want to come here, for whatever reason. But if the condition of the ice is one of the reasons, that can be fixed, without resorting to a higher pay grade.
Brooks: “he would not recommend that his clients sign with the Islanders as a result of the bad ice conditions at Barclays”
During the playoffs, the NHL sent “ice guru” Dan Craig to help the Islanders improve their playing surface. They installed a dehumidifying system at the Barclays to help control the temperature in the arena during the Islanders playoff run.
If Craig can build an ice surface “anywhere”, then certainly he can make the surface at the Barclays Center playable enough to quell any sort of worries from agents and their clients about playing in Brooklyn.
SNY.tv’s Brian Erni thinks that this story about players not wanting to come because of the ice, is much-ado-about-nothing. Attributing the quotes to agents looking to put pressure on the Islanders organization looking to negotiate with their clients in the days to come.
There could very well be some truth to this. The sample of agents (10) polled by Custance definitely make you question the legitimacy of the results. Not that Custance’s math is wrong. But rather, are the numbers as damning as they’re being made out to be? Absolutely not.
If a free agent chooses to overlook playing in New York, it won’t be due to the condition of the ice. It may be other factors, but it certainly won’t be the quality, or lack-there-of, of the ice at the Barclays Center.