The New York Islanders hockey team, the only major-league professional sports team on Long Island, is being sold and will move to play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The seller is billionaire Charles Wang, who has owned the Islanders for 14 years. A decade ago, he proposed to build a $3.47 billion complex around the Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead that would include have included a skyscraper more than 60 stories tall. In 2011, when Nassau County said they couldn’t afford to pay for this, Wang gave up and said he would move the team to play from the 2015–16 season on, in Brooklyn. He now is also selling the team, cashing out for an unknown amount, which will surely be hundreds of millions of dollars.
The buyers are Jon Ledecky, who once owned the Washington Capitals hockey team, and a London based investor Scott Malkin. The two were roommates at Harvard years ago and are longtime friends.
The Islanders have a very storied history. They won the Stanley Cup four times in the 1980s, and that team is considered the best ever by many people. They have not won the Stanley Cup since.
An interesting sidenote to this is that Long Island now joins with New Jersey in having lost a professional sports team to Brooklyn. New Jersey was home to the Nets, now renamed the Brooklyn Nets because they play at the Barclays Center.
There are differences, though. New Jersey continues to host the New York Jets football team in the Meadowlands, although the Jets are considered a New York City team just playing there. And New Jersey does have the raggedy New Jersey Devils.
Long Islanders, though, if you think about it, may not be losing their only professional sports team at all. It seems likely the team will continue to be called “The Islanders.” And, geographically speaking, Brooklyn is on Long Island. Just because there is a dotted line that separates Brooklyn from the rest of the island doesn’t change that.
Or does it? Accompanying this article is the logo of the New York Islanders. As you see, it consists of a hockey stick, the words NY and ISLANDERS and then a map of Long Island.
If you look closely, though, you will notice that the logo’s map of Long Island does not include Brooklyn. From about 1950 on, which was before the New York Islanders were born, any business worth its salt that had a map of the Island in its logo chopped off Long Island in the same way that an Islander might chop off the head of a fish. After Great Neck, there is nothing. And even JFK Airport is not represented.
Long Island has its pride. Brooklyn, on its own as a grand city entirely separate from New York, had been the western anchor of Long Island—Montauk was the anchor to the east—until it allowed itself to become part of the City of New York in 1898. By 1970, much of it was abandoned, burned down or teeming with out-of-control and desperate people who did drugs and owned guns. Why allow Brooklyn to sully the reputation of Long Island. Even the Brooklyn Dodgers had moved away. Cut it away!
But now Brooklyn is rising again, and the Barclays Center is its centerpiece, just a few blocks from the former City Hall, Courthouse and Mayor’s mansion from when Brooklyn was its own city.
We look forward to the day when the logo for the New York Islanders is restored to include ALL of Long Island, particularly including its formerly chopped-off western end in Brooklyn, where now it is playing its hockey games.
Hooray for Long Island.
And some day, maybe we can even get Brooklyn to secede from the City of New York. Wouldn’t that be something. Proud Long Island, with its Barclays Center, hockey and basketball teams, will be whole once more.