Tag Archives: Islanders

Rumored NHL outdoor games snub Citi Field


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

It looks like Citi Field has been “shut out” from an outdoor NHL game next season.

The Sports Network (TSN) reported the league plans five outdoor games on top of the traditional Bridgestone Winter Classic – slated between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day, 2014.

NHL officials first have to ink a deal with the teams before anything is made official.

Yankee Stadium will host two games in New York, TSN reported, with the Rangers facing off against the New Jersey Devils on January 26, and Rangers vs. Islanders on January 29, nearly coinciding with Super Bowl XLVIII, to be played just across the Hudson on February 2.

The Blueshirts played in the 2012 Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park.

Citi Field is slightly smaller than Yankee Stadium, with the latter able to hold nearly 9,000 more spectators. The home of the Amazin’s can hold 41,800; the Bronx Bombers’ stadium can fit 50,287.

But some Queens officials are already calling the NHL off-sides if Citi Field, which opened the same year as the new Yankee Stadium, is iced out of the plan.

Rob MacKay, director of public relations, marketing and tourism at the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), said he was disappointed the league shot for the Bronx, but is still leaving an open net for a future outdoor game.

“So as the biggest Queens fan on this planet,” he said, “I am a bit disappointed that the NHL chose a different, more remote borough for these games, but I still welcome them. Hopefully we’ll see them in Queens soon, as it would be good for the NHL executives, the players, the fans and of course our hospitality sector.”

Queens hotels will already be stacked because of overflow from the Super Bowl, MacKay said, although the game is at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. QEDC is still looking forward to the revenue these additional games could bring to the borough.

There was talk roughly five years ago of the Islanders coming to Willets Point before the team eventually settled on the already-built Barclays Center last year.

Fan group and clothes manufacturer We Bleed Blue – specializing in Rangers gear – is excited just to have outdoor hockey in New York. Founders Brendan Gebert and John Rizzo, while cheering for the same hockey team, vary in their baseball loyalties. Gebert is a Met fan; Rizzo is a Yankee fan.

Regardless, the duo told The Courier any sort of outdoor game within the city will drive more people to hockey and allow for more games of the sort in the area.

“Getting mad at the location would be like getting mad at Jay-Z for having a concert at Yankee Stadium,” Rizzo said.

“Plus we’re willing to bet that if this goes as planned, this won’t be the last time we see something like this in the area. Guess you gotta just ‘save something for tomorrow,’ and the next go around, I’d like to think Citi would get the next one.”

 

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NHL, Players’ Association come to agreement; hockey season could start soon


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

It’s over.

After three-and-a-half months of talks, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) have agreed on a tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that will end the 2012-13 lockout and put players back on the ice.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters around 5 a.m.  today that the two sides had come to a general agreement.

“[Players’ Representative] Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement for the framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement,” Bettman said.

But there’s still some work to be done: “The details of which need to be put to paper. We’ve got to dot a lot of eye i’s, cross a lot of t’s.”

The NHL Board of Governors and the Players’ Association still have to green light the agreement once it’s drafted. In the meantime the league will get to work on making a schedule for the stunted season.

Both sides had until January 11 to reach an agreement before the entire season would have been cancelled. The season was to start on January 19 if a deal was signed by the deadline, Bettman said last week.

The lockout officially began at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, September 15 when the two sided failed to agree on a new CBA by deadline to allow for a full season.

In the meantime, many players have gone overseas to play and make up for the pay lost because of the lockout.

The league and the Players Association are expected to hold press conferences in the days to come as more information comes out.

 

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.

Russ Gompers has the pros in ‘stitches’


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Russ Gompers is a lifelong Mets fan. He’s seen the highs, the lows and the mediocrity in between. He was there when the team reached baseball’s peak in 1969, then again in 1986. He was also there when the Mets closed Shea Stadium with a collapse in the standings in 2008.

But beyond the usual fandom stories that roll off the tongue of many Queens residents wearing orange and blue glasses, Gompers has a special connection with New York’s National League team. One might say that he’s been on the field with them for the last 18 years.

Owner of Stitches in Whitestone, Gompers does all of the official stitching for the New York Mets. And recently, he was given a very special assignment.

After Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter passed away, Mets officials declared that all team jerseys in 2012 would feature a commemorative patch honoring the player known as “The Kid.” And on February 28, Gompers received the delivery — all of the Mets players’ jerseys, along with the Carter patch, a black home plate reading “KID 8.”

“I remember watching Monday Night Football and they announced the Mets got Carter. I said at the time that he was the final piece,” said Gompers. “Everyone should play the game as he played it — as the Kid had fun and played hard all the time.”

Gompers has no problem relating to that nickname himself, as his office resembles the fantasy of every young sports fan: wall-to-wall memorabilia, much of it personalized. A signed picture of Dwight Gooden sits on one end of the cramped space, right across from one of Mike Piazza. And right above a Mets recliner hangs a framed and signed Bobby Valentine jersey featuring three September 11 patches designed by Gompers.

His office above the Stitches warehouse is more than a shrine to his favorite teams — which inexplicably includes the Miami Dolphins — the office is also a tangible memory bank, a place where Gompers recalls standout moments in a sporting life.

It was October 1986. His father had passed away weeks prior and Gompers found himself at game six of the World Series with the Mets about to be eliminated by the Boston Red Sox. With two outs and Gary Carter at the plate, Gompers looked to the heavens and said, “Me and you dad. One more time.” With that, Carter got the hit that kept the inning alive and started one of the most famous comebacks in baseball history.

To find himself now overseeing the placement of these patches on his favorite team’s jersey is almost too much for Gompers to believe.

“It’s really amazing,” he said. “To end up doing work for the teams I grew up rooting for — it’s a dream come true.”

Besides the Mets, Stitches also does work for the New York Islanders, New York Knicks and a host of Little League, high school and college teams. Much of the enjoyment Gompers gets from his job is seeing the faces of young players when they see their jerseys for the first time.

“I tell coaches when they come in — I make them look good, but you have to make them play good,” he said. “But when they’re dressed like pros, it adds a little pep in their step.”

And it adds more recollections — high, low or mediocre — to the sports memory bank of this Bayside man living his dream.

To find out more about Stitches, visit www.stitchesny.com or call Russ Gompers at 718-747-6444.

 

Sports lovers cry foul after MSG blackout


| brennison@queenscourier.com

If a game is played and no one is able to watch it, did it really happen?

More than one million sports fans have faced off with this problem after MSG was dropped from the Time Warner Cable lineup on January 1.

The sports network and Time Warner are more than two weeks into their standoff leaving Knicks, Rangers, Islanders and Devils fans in the lurch.

The dispute is over licensing fees that cable companies pay networks in order to carry their channel.  MSG wants more than Time Warner is offering and Time Warner is not willing to pay what MSG is asking.

Time Warner’s senior vice president, Mike Angus, said the two companies reached a deal last year that was agreed to by both sides — but claimed MSG reneged on the deal.

The network said that Time Warner rejected every offer made over two years — never having a deal in place.

While talks have broken off, Time Warner spokesperson Eric Mangan said the company is waiting for MSG to come back to the negotiating table.

“It’s all propaganda. Obviously in commercials Time Warner and MSG are going to say the opposite of each other. Is it really a 53 percent increase, is it not? Who knows? It’s all slanted one way or another,” said Queens resident Steven Cohen, referring to Time Warner’s claim that MSG asked for a 53 percent increase in their licensing fee.

The cable company called MSG’s demands way out of line.  “We are looking out for the interests of out customers,” a spokesperson said.

“All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers — nothing more, nothing less,” MSG Media President Michael Bair said.

MSG is owned by Madison Square Garden, Inc. which is chaired by Knicks and Rangers owner James Dolan.

The city’s comptroller called a foul on Time Warner for blacking out city sports fans.

“As this dispute continues, 1.3 million city residents are left without the programming they paid for,” Comptroller John Liu said.  “The least they could get is a break on their cable bill.”

Liu sent a letter to Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable, urging the company to rebate $5.95 — the price of the Time Warner Cable Sports Pass.

“I pay all that money for cable so I could watch the Knicks, and now they say I can’t,” said Knicks fan Chris Lerner as he waited for the LIRR in Bayside.  “Going to games isn’t an option because tickets are through the roof. How much money does MSG need?”

“Customers are understandably frustrated that they are forced to pay for channels they do not receive, particularly when many customers do not have access to another cable television provider,” Liu wrote in the letter.