The New York Islanders might become the next Hartford Whalers, or the next Montreal Expos or the next Seattle Supersonics if the bond referendum to be voted on on August 1, 2011 goes poorly for the team. It is that bond referendum that will determine if the Islanders are going to get a new stadium next to the Nassau Colliseum and if the vote fails to pass the new debt, then the Islanders will be forced to look for a new home – or so the scare tactics will teach us. The belief is that without a new stadium, the team will no longer be able to compete in the NHL and will have to move. Although I don’t know how a new stadium will suddenly make the team more attractive than it is now.
The question is, where will the Islanders go? Quebec is having continuous problems getting funding for its own arena. No team wants to move back to Hartford since the corproate base is too small and the rights fees are too complex with the Bruins and the Rangers. Maybe Cleveland, Kansas City or Seattle? Seattle might make the most sense geographically, since it would automatically create a rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks (who I’m sure are chomping at the bit to create a bitter rivalry) but would lead to even more realignment as the Winnipeg Jets move to the Western Conference this year. Cleveland might make sense since the team would stay in the Eastern Conference. But with a team right down the street in Columbus? Probably not going to happen.
Kansas City is not a viable choice. The City has failed to support most of its professional teams except for the Chiefs, since this part of the Midwest is tied to football. It will likely be just like the Oakland A’s who first moved to Kansas City in the 1960’s after 60 years in Philadelphia.
One possibility may be Houston. The former WHA standout the Houston Aeros proved that professional hockey can thrive in Texas despite Dallas having a team as well. Hoston is a huge metropolis with numerous opportunities. Perhaps this is the place that the team should look at if they are forced to leave Long Island.