Tag Archives: gary bettman

Clothing line lets fans express frustration with NHL lockout


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of We Bleed Blue

The ongoing NHL lockout has many hockey fans angry as talks between the league and the players’ union have ended in a series of contract talks breakdowns.

For We Bleed Blue, an independent apparel line that primarily makes Rangers clothing, this means sending a message to the league via the shirts they make right in Queens.

Weeks after the 2012-13 NHL lockout began on September 15, We Bleed Blue founders Brendan Gebert and John Rizzo designed a T-shirt that called for the ousting of league commissioner Gary Bettman. The message on the blue tee is simple: “Fire Bettman.”

Gebert explained that this is the third lockout since Bettman took over the league in the early 1990s. “We decided it was time to unite the fans and let our voices be heard,” Gebert said in an email. “What better way then to make a ‘Fire Bettman’ shirt. We understand that it is not entirely Gary Bettman’s fault, but at the same time there have been three lockouts during his reign.”

The T-shirt has been a big seller since it was introduced by the online-only clothing line. And while they say sales of league-approved merchandise has gone down as a result of the lockout, We Bleed Blue has gotten the support of Ranger fans, the founders say, because they would prefer to shop with them than the NHL.

The line’s biggest holiday seller was “The King of New York” design to honor Rangers goalie and incumbent Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist. The design features a goalie mask with “King” as the mask’s top, and “New York” as the mask’s bottom.

Defenseman Ryan McDonough and winger Carl Hagelin have also recently been featured in We Bleed Blue apparel. Gebert said the Swedish-born Hagelin tweeted a picture of himself wearing his “Swagelin” sweatshirt while he is back in his homeland.

Support from the players has been one of the proudest facets for the owners. “We go to games, purchase merchandise, and spend a whole lot of time supporting these guys. It’s nice to see them support us and what we are doing here,” Gebert said.

If and when the season begins this year, or next, Gebert and Rizzo said they’ll be at Madison Square Garden for the first puck drop.

“We are all frustrated with the lockout and ongoing negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA (National Hockey League Players’ Association), but we refuse to turn our backs on the league,” Gebert said. “Some fans may say they will not return. We will be at MSG opening night whenever they decide to come to their senses and get a deal done.”

Islanders moving to Brooklyn beginning in 2015


| brennison@queenscourier.com

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Heather J. Chin

Amid rumors of the New York Islanders fleeing the area, the team announced their moving 20 miles west.

Islanders owner Charles Wang, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Barclays Center majority owner Bruce Ratner and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz announced that the Islanders would be heading to Brooklyn beginning with the 2015-16 season. The lease is for 25 years and the team will remain the New York Islanders.

The Islanders have played at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum since their inception in 1972.

“Not long ago I think its fair to say the idea of a big league sports team coming to Brooklyn was considered little more than a pipe dream. Now, not only does Brooklyn have an NBA team, it also is now about to get an NHL team,” said Bloomberg.

The announcement comes just days after the Nets played their first basketball game in the arena.

Wang said his goal was to remain in Nassau, but “unfortunately we were unable to achieve that dream.”

The Town of Hempstead and the Islanders failed last year to reach an agreement on the Lighthouse Project, which would renovate Nassau Coliseum and develop the area around it. Wang told reporters the team would explore looking for a new home when the lease at Nassau expired in 2015.

“We’ve said this for many years, there comes a point where you need to make a decision because there’s not enough time to build a new arena,” Wang said.

The Islanders consecutively captured four Stanley Cups at the Coliseum from the 1979-1980 to 1982-1983 seasons; but fans and NHL critics in the last few years have called for a new home, or updated one.

“Our goal from the outset was to have the Islanders to play in a local world class facility that possessed the amenities our fans deserve,” said Wang.

The Barclays can currently fit about 14,500 fans for a hockey game though officials said they expect another 1,000 to be added to that number before the Islanders move in. The Nassau Coliseum can hold 16,200 fans.

The 2015 season will serve as a reunion for the Nets and Islanders. When the Islanders broke into the NHL in 1972, they shared Nassau Coliseum for a five year period with the Nets before they left for New Jersey.

Willets Point was rumored in 2010 to be a new destination for the team, and the Wilpon family, owners of the New York Mets, were said to be considering buying the team from Wang, who became a part-owner in 2000. Newsday reported amid the rumors that the potential Wilpon purchase was endorsed by Major League.

Wang was also said around 2009 to entertain the idea of moving the team to Kansas City, which hasn’t had a professional hockey team since 1976.

The move comes in the midst of the second player lockout in less than a decade. The NHL Players Association (NHLPA) and the league failed to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) by September 15, and pre- and regular-season games were subsequently canceled.

NHLPA officials appealed for talks with league execs today, but Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league would only meet if to work on its proposed 50/50 revenue sharing agreement.