There's no such thing as a casual hockey fan. It's a unicorn, as Brendan Burke wrote in the "pre-game" of New York Islanders A to Z. There are, however, plenty of die-hard hockey fans who double-up their sports fandom as die-hard baseball fans.
In the best of years, their hockey teams are playing deep into May or even June during the first third of baseball season. The national pastime can serve as a good distraction during off days of tense best-of-seven playoff series in the Spring. Then, come the fall, it's nerve-wracking baseball just as the puck is about to drop for hockey season.
That's not the case in 2023, with both the Mets and Yankees having incredibly disappointing seasons. It's not just that they aren't playing October baseball, we knew they wouldn't be for quite some time, creating anticipation for the winter sports more than usual.
“We love the other New York teams, but when you have competing sports that are in the playoffs, sometimes the hockey teams in New York can be a secondary story,” said Islanders owner Jon Ledecky at Sportico's "Invest in Sports" conference in Manhattan on Wednesday via Newsday.
This year, the three Metro-area hockey teams have October mostly to themselves this month (outside of Sundays for Jets fans, at least). The Islanders have five home games in 13 days from when the season starts on Saturday night and six home games overall this month. Attendance in October has historically been lower as it takes certain segments of the fanbase - even the die-hard fans - to turn their attention solely onto hockey.
“Now they [the hockey teams] are the primary story, and that's very exciting to us," Ledecky added. "We have the stage if you will. Basketball is in preseason. Here comes hockey. Here come the Rangers, the Devils, the Islanders, and it's great for hockey in New York.”
Entering their third year at UBS Arena, the organization and new operating partner John Collins, have an opportunity. to hit the ground running this month on the ice and on the business side with a fanbase that should have their undivided attention.