NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined WFAN’s Mike Francesa and all but guaranteed the New York Islanders will play on Long Island.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman all but guarantees the New York Islanders will not just play in New York but on Long Island.
Thursday, Bettman joined Mike Francesa on WFAN and, during the duration of a 36-minute interview, the two discussed a number of topics in the NHL and surrounding sports. Francesa asked Bettman early on about the status of the Isles and where their future might take them.
“People shouldn’t worry about their future existence,” Bettman said. “Scott Malkin is committed to getting a new arena and he believes as do I that Belmont is the perfect solution.”
The way Bettman made it sound was as if the people at Belmont would be crazy to shoot down the Islanders request for proposal (RFP) submitted in September. If that is 100 percent true, then that’s good news because it should be in favor of the Isles to win the bid. In the event that it’s not true and they lose the bid, let’s just say it will be interesting.
“We’re not focused on a fall-back, they can’t play in the Coliseum, they can’t stay at Barclays long-term, this is it,” Bettman said. “We believe this will work and our hope is that the RFP goes through, they’ll probably build it in the 17.5 range which is perfect for hockey.”
So that’s it, a hope. Bettman “hopes” that the RFP will go through. If only he knew how many hopes this franchise and fan base have had within the last two decades. One thing that could turn the tide, however, is the ownership. For the first time since John Spano (yes, really) the Islanders have an ownership group that really seems to care about the fans and not just business. Co-owners Malkin and Jon Ledecky are a whole new ballgame. Bettman specifically mentioned Malkin, who seems to be more business oriented while Ledecky appeases the fans.
“He’s a great owner, he’s committed, he has the resources, the vision, and has the ability to execute so I believe he will get this done,” Bettman said.
So there you have it Isles fans, it’s Belmont or bust. When Francesa approached Bettman about the possibility of the arena not being ready or approved, Bettman shrugged it off. He reiterated that Belmont is the one and only plan. He also stated that the arena could be done within three years. While that is encouraging, it can also cause some concern.
If the Islanders are to finally get a hockey-first or at least a real multi-purpose arena, do it right. At the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Islanders will have spent three years in Brooklyn. It is no secret that the Isles and the Barclays ownership group, Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, have had their problems and want to go their separate ways. At this point, do it right and make the arena of the future perfect. A Coliseum return is not possible, so let’s get the next best thing. Do not rush it, and do not cut corners.
What the whole conversation really brings is confidence. If Bettman holds that much faith in Malkin and the RFP itself to not even consider a plan B, one can assume there’s a strong chance of approval. However, it’s the Islanders and the whole fan base knows that nothing ever comes easy. Ultimately, everyone just has to wait and see.