- Cal Clutterbuck, the Mustache from Minnesota.
1. Brooklyn is Ready for Hockey
Sure, it can be a pretty irritating running joke, but there's some truth to the idea that hipster Brooklyn is populated by Midwestern gentrifiers WHO ARE RUINING OUR PRECIOUS OLD-SCHOOL BREUCKELEN. But you know what Midwesterners like (particularly the ones from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan)? Hockey and beer. Not to mention that professional hockey's perpetual lack of popularity in most of the country makes it an ideal hipster diversion. And look, Built By Wendy's already dipped into sacred hockey iconography; also, check out these hockey player hipsters. For further argument, hockey blog Five Minutes for Fighting has also made the case.
- Needless to say, the answer was "no."
2. The New York Islanders Are a Terrible Franchise
The Charles Wang-owned Islanders of Nassau County had the lowest revenue in the NHL last year, and they were second-last in attendance. And when local residents had a chance to vote on whether or not their tax dollars should be used to contribute to a new arena (thereby making it easier to keep the team in town), they voted overwhelmingly against. So, yes, even the locals don't want the team. The team's current lease with the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum runs out in 2015, and we'll go on record now saying we really, really hope the team moves to Brooklyn.
- The highway signs in Columbus double as population info.
3. Brooklyn is the Fourth Largest City in America and Only Has One Major League Team4. The Barclays Center is Ready for It (and Nassau Coliseum Never Was)
Here are some smaller cities in America with NHL teams: Newark (New Jersey), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Buffalo, Raleigh (North Carolina), Tampa Bay, Sunrise (Florida), Washington, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis, Denver, Minneapolis, Anaheim, Dallas, Phoenix, San Jose. So, yes. We have the Nets, now, but we want more.
Nassau Coliseum (home of the Islanders!) is possibly the worst arena in all of major league sports. And though it's small and dilapidated, with none of the luxuries of a modern pro-sports venue, the worst thing about the Colosseum is its horrible location, in the middle of suburban nowhere, far from meaningful public transportation, isolated by the perpetual gridlock of the Long Island Expressway. Oh, and it just sits there in the middle of a giant parking lot, waiting for that Foreigner reunion tour that will never come... The Barclays Center, on the other hand, is a genuine 21st-century sports venue, easily accessible not only to the few remaining Islanders fans, but to the millions of other tri-state hockey fans looking to catch a game. Granted, Barclays hockey configuration would leave it with the smallest capacity in the NHL (by 500 seats), but that's a wrinkle that could eventually be ironed out. And in case you hadn't heard, pro hockey will be coming to Barclays in January, 2013, as the arena hosts a Russian league game between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
4a. Which reminds us, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets is Mikhail Prokhorov, who is Russian. Russians love hockey.
5. The Success of the Winnipeg Jets
- What hockey fans look like.
Last season marked the return of the Winnipeg Jets franchise to the Great White North, after a decade and a half of failure in Atlanta, toiling as the Thrashers. The team sold out the season with the second highest ticket prices in the entire league
, with a greater urban population of barely 700,000. Granted, that's Canada, and there was a pre-existing fanbase, but with the right strategy, the Brooklyn market (see no. 1, above) could definitely sustain a team. Relocating an NHL franchise could be a great business opportunity for the right person (uh, Mr. Prokhorov?).
6. NHL Merchandising Would Explode with Brooklynalia
- Yup, I'd buy that, whatever it is.
As you all know, Brooklyn is the new international hotness
. Studies have shown that consumers are three times more likely to buy any given product if it has the word "Brooklyn" on it.* Even hockey jerseys, toques
**, and foam fingers.
[*Studies have not actually shown this.]
7. Gary Bettman Wants 32 Teams in the NHL
- You can play it anywhere, honest.
One of the small details that's emerged from the ongoing and dispiriting negotiations
between the NHL and its players, over the next collective bargaining agreement (the players are currently locked out, and there's been no hockey, in case you haven't noticed), is that league commissioner Gary Bettman is interested in getting the league up from 30 teams to 32. While this is a bad idea for many reasons (do we really need a team in Phoenix, and two in Florida?), it certainly wouldn't hurt the likelihood of Brooklyn getting an NHL franchise...
8. The Rivalry Would Be Amazing with the Rangers
- We are so much bigger and tougher than they are.
Real talk: the Rangers-Islanders rivalry hasn't had much juice since the 80s, when the latter team was one of the best in hockey. But it's not just about the lackluster on-ice efforts: see number four above, and ask the Rangers fan in your life about their desire to go out to Nassau County to watch a game... Brooklyn vs. Manhattan, on the other hand, would be like a city derby game in European soccer, when two rabid fanbases pour into a stadium and project their incandescent intensity onto the field of play. Oh what a glorious sight that would be.
9. Brooklyn is the Birthplace of Hockey
- The game is part of Brooklyn's history.
It's true, Brooklyn, Nova Scotia is about five minutes from the (alleged) birthplace of hockey
. That pretty much seals the deal, right? (Hat tip to Canadian hockey historian N. Norm Ullman.)
10. Renaming the Team Would Be Really Fun
- Ladies and gentlemen, your Brooklyn Flannels!
Why keep the name "Islanders," a once-great franchise now mired in more than two decades of apathetic futility? Naming the relocated franchise would generate tons of enthusiasm and would give Brooklyn a chance to really take ownership of the team. Here are a few of our early suggestions (you're welcome, Mr. Prokhorov).
· The Brooklyn Blades
· The Brooklyn Flannels
· The Brooklyn Browns
· The Brooklyn Rivermen
· The Brooklyn Dodjerz (alternate spelling to avoid legal action, of course)
· The Brooklyn Artisans
· The Brooklyn Seltzers
· The Brooklyn Pit Bulls
· The Brooklyn Brewers
· The Brooklyn Grizzly Bears (works on many levels: Canada, bears, indie rock...)
UPDATED: Well, it would now appear the Islanders are, in fact, coming to Brooklyn...