About two hours ago, Darren Dreger of TSN posted an interesting story regarding the state of the New York Islanders and hockey in Kansas City. According to Dreger, the Islanders and Los Angeles Kings have agree in principle to play an exhibition game next year at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. He went on to say the game could be "a veiled threat" aimed at Long Island politicians, specifically those in the Town of Hempstead.
And he's completely right, if in fact the team is thinking about playing an exhibition in Kansas City any time soon.
Islanders' owner Charles Wang -- who bought the team in 2000 -- is a Long Island native. He has not made any public threats to move or sell the team if his Lighthouse Project to revamp the Coliseum and surrounding area falls through. Most admirably, he is refusing to use any kind of scare tactics. Ask anyone in or around the organization and they'll tell you the last thing Wang wants to do is move or sell the team. They're completely right.
The situation is too fishy, even if the Islanders are simply looking to take their kids on a field trip.
Question that should be unsettling to Long Islanders #1: If you're the Islanders, why in the world do you bother spending the time and money to go to Kansas City?
Question that should be unsettling to Long Islanders #2: If you're the Los Angeles Kings why, out of all the NHL teams, would you pick the Islanders to play against?
If I'm the Islanders and my intentions are to stay on Long Island and not freak out my fans, I don't even think about playing this game. In this economy, I don't see any reason to spend the money. Given the situation, I don't see any reason to play at a neutral site that has been linked to relocation (i.e. Hamilton, Kansas City, Las Vegas -- although Vegas, given that it is Vegas, may not apply). Assuming the usual pre-season trips to NYC, New Jersey, Boston and Philly, I don't see why going halfway across the country is on the radar.
To answer the second question, this looks even fishier from the Kings point of view. Tim Leiweke, the CEO of AEG, the company owns the Sprint Center, is a governor of the Kings. Naturally, we can assume that he has some interest in moving a team -- any team -- to KC.
In this situation, Leiweke and the Kings are likely to be doing one of two things. They're either looking to put on a nice show for the folks in KC or they're holding tryouts for teams interested in moving there.
If you believe it's the former, then there are 27 or 28 better options out there than bringing in the Islanders. Kansas City has an Islander fan base of roughly zero and the Islanders have about zero stars that will sell tickets (if you assume Rick DiPietro is injured). And, oh yeah, they're also the worst team in the NHL this season. For comparison, last year the Kings squared off against the St. Louis Blues in KC, an obvious draw given the location.
Now, let's say you're Leiweke and you're interested in holding a tryout for teams interested in moving to KC. The Kings are a shoe in, given that he's high ranking. They're not moving, they're just doing him a favor. The list of opponents for the Kings is a very short one: Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Long Island, Florida.
Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. Maybe the Islanders do, in fact, want to have a nice little pre-season get away for the youth that is currently on their roster and make a couple bucks. Maybe being that they are after all the Islanders they, you know, didn't think this one through. Or maybe Charles Wang is as smart as well all believe him to be, thought this one through, and is giving a subtle nudge to the Town of Hempstead to 'hurry the heck up' with the Lighthouse Project.
An Islander Game in Kansas City Should Be a Wake Up Call for Long Island originally appeared on NHL Main on Thu, 15 Jan 2009 13:21:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.