Brooklyn Boro

New-look Islanders moving in on Monday

Exhibition Opener vs. Philly Not a One-Off Visit This Time Around

September 16, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Islanders captain John Tavares shows off the team’s alternate third jersey in advance of the franchise’s exhibition opener at the Barclays Centernext Monday night. Photo courtesy of New York Islanders
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The New York Islanders will open training camp on Thursday morning at their Islanders Iceworks facility on Long Island, meaning their inaugural season in Brooklyn is officially under way.

On Wednesday morning, the Islanders revealed their alternate third jersey, complete with the co-tenant Nets’ black-and-white color scheme and a “BKLYN” logo adorning the side of their black helmets.

“While being respectful of the tradition of the Islanders’ current uniforms, we are thrilled to have been able to collaboratively find a balance that embraces Brooklyn with the new third jersey,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.

“The colors of black and white infuse the spirit of Brooklyn into the borough’s new home team, while the four stripes seen throughout the uniform pay homage to the Islanders famed Stanley Cup dynasty.”

While the beginning of training camp and the unveiling of alternate jerseys are nice, Monday night will mark the franchise’s official move into our fair borough as the Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers in their exhibition opener at the Barclays Center, which will be their home arena for the next 25 years.

Unlike the previous two years, when the Islanders, following the signing of their “iron-clad” deal with the Barclays, played the Devils in a one-off preseason game at the state-of-the-art building on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, the team currently owned by Brooklyn Tech alum Charles Wang is here to stay this time around.

Brooklyn will now have not one, but two major pro sports franchises to call its own beginning Monday night when the Isles host the Flyers in the first of three exhibition matches to be played on the Barclays Center’s new ice. 

“It’s great to be back,” Islanders captain John Tavares told the team’s web site last Friday after he and a group of teammates participated in a series of informal skates at Iceworks.

“We’re less than a week away from officially hitting the ice, so it’s an exciting time, especially wanting to build on last season.”

Last season saw the Islanders flirt with capturing the Metropolitan Division title as Tavares was thrust into the Hart Trophy race as the league’s MVP.

But a somewhat precipitous fall in the standings down the stretch resulted in a third-place finish for the Islanders, who played seven tough games against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals before losing the decisive contest, 2-1, at the Verizon Center.

The devastating defeat left the Islanders without a playoff series win since 1993, the year they reached the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to Montreal.

Though they have made it to the playoffs in two of the past three seasons, the Isles, led by Tavares, are still hungering for the thrill of a deep postseason run, and perhaps even a fifth Stanley Cup banner to hang from the rafters of their new and improved arena.

“We’re disappointed, but it’s past us now,” Tavares said of the Washington series. “Getting out of the first round is a motivating factor and we believe we had a team that could go all the way and we’re lucky we have basically the same group coming back. We’re looking forward to it, the continuity is great.

“[Last season is] something to build on,” the two-time Hart Trophy runner-up added. “But at the same time we have to understand how hard it is to get there and get past that, the sacrifice and commitment that’s needed from everybody. It started with the summer and with the group, it starts day one of training camp.”

It starts Monday night in earnest for Brooklynites who have been clamoring for this franchise’s arrival.

This isn’t a one-and-done exhibition game, nor a Blue and White Scrimmage.

These are your New York Islanders.

Right here in Brooklyn.

Here to stay.

* * *

Islanders general manager Garth Snow and his team had to walk a delicate line last year as the franchise said goodbye to its former home at the Nassau Veteran Memorial Coliseum.

Though they were doubtlessly eager to move into an arena with more modern amenities and facilities for fans and players alike, the Islanders made sure not to stomp on the faithful followers who had been coming to the Coliseum since the franchise’s inception in 1972.

It appears Snow is still sensitive to that tried-and-true fan base as indicated by his comments regarding the team’s alternate jerseys and color scheme.

“It was extremely important to ensure that our passionate fan base could still see the traditions of the New York Islanders represented in this third jersey,” Snow said. “We feel we’ve created a jersey our players will be proud to wear that has unique features which will also connect with Brooklyn residents.”

* * *

Following their Monday night exhibition opener against the Flyers, the Islanders will also host the Devils here on Wednesday night and the Capitals at Barclays Center on Sept. 28 in their preseason finale.

New York kicks off its regular-season home schedule with a much-anticipated and historic Oct. 9 showdown against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The Islanders also revealed that Nov. 3 against the Devils would be the first regular-season game in which the team would skate on home ice with the new alternate jerseys.

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