Islanders moving to Saskatoon?


At the All-Star break, halfway through the season, the two teams with New York on their jerseys are heading in opposite directions.


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NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - At the All-Star break, halfway through the season, the two teams with New York on their jerseys are heading in opposite directions.

The Rangers, one of the NHL’s "Original Six" teams and for years the big shots of New York hockey, are looking to make the playoffs for a third straight year and challenge for the Stanley Cup they last won in 1994.

The team is second in the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division, with 28 wins and 16 regulation losses plus two losses in overtime and two more in shootouts (for which teams earn one point). The 60-point total is exceeded by only the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils in the East.

In contrast, 30 miles to the east of Madison Square Garden in the commuter-land of Long Island, the Islanders are toiling.

The team that won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83 has the worst record in the league this season, 13 wins in 47 games for 31 points.

The Islanders are also struggling to replace goaltender Rick DiPietro, who has the biggest contract ($67.5 million over 15 years) in the league and is ruled out for the season due to knee surgery.

Adding to the misery on Long Island there is media speculation the team may move to Kansas City or Saskatoon, Canada.

Islanders owner, computer executive Charles Wang, will not disclose his plans but has pushed unsuccessfully for the local council to build a new arena to replace the ageing Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum, where the team has played since joining the league in 1972.


Speculation of a move was fueled when the team said it would move its training camp from Moncton, New Brunswick to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in hockey-mad Canada.

It also said it would play a pre-season game in September in a brand new arena in Kansas City.

The Sprint Center was built with the intention of becoming the home for an NHL franchise but, after failed attempts to land the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators, the next target could be the Islanders.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said the Islanders are not looking to relocate but a source familiar with the planning of the exhibition game told the Long Island newspaper Newsday it was "a showcase" for Kansas City.

"Such a game benefits Kansas City because it gives the people and the arena a chance to publicly woo the Islanders, even if they’re not actively looking to move," the paper said.

Bettman, speaking on his own radio show last week, urged local officials to approve a project to develop the land around the Coliseum, where the Islanders’s lease runs out in 2015.

"At some point the rubber has to hit the road and this project has to move forward," he said. On the ice, the Manhattanites continue to rule the roost over their hated rivals in suburbia, the Rangers winning 2-1 on the Island last week.

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