We’ve all heard the heckling Rangers fans send towards their inter-state rival Islanders fans about the potential relocation of the team to Kansas City, Quebec or wherever the NHL plans to move one of its fledgling franchises to. But several New York Rangers players, both current and former, have voiced their support on IslandersPointBlank.com to keep the Islanders on Long Island, and continue one of the league’s best rivalries going for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve been following the story of the issue of the Islanders’ arena and really hope something can be worked out,” said Adam Graves, who had his number retired by the Rangers in 2009. “Anyone who’s had the privilege of skating on the ice at the Garden or the Coliseum can tell you about the special level of emotion that exists when the Rangers and Islanders face off.”
Graves mentioned the storied history of the Islanders, with players like Mike Bossy, Billy Smith and of course Denis Potvin, the target of hecklers from the Garden faithful for the past 30 years. “Everyone knows what the Islanders can be when they are successful,” said Graves. “Personally, I’m rooting hard for the Coliseum issue to finally be settled after all these years, and I’m rooting for the Islanders to stay for a long time on Long Island.”
Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest Ranger of all time Brian Leetch said the rivalry lives and dies with the fans, and that both sides would suffer if the Islanders relocate. “The rivalry is entirely fan-driven,” said Leetch, “with so many Islanders and Rangers fans in New York, that as a player you can’t help buy get caught up in the emotion. We have fans of both teams on the same neighborhood block, fans who go to work together, go to school together. There’s nothing like it.”
Leetch continued to say how Islanders fans have shown they are not giving up on their team unlike other teams around the NHL. No. 2 also said losing the Islanders would be bad for the NHL. “The health of the Islanders is important to the league, I know that,” he said. “It’s disappointing to see the friction over the new arena, but I really hope it gets figured out and the Islanders are able to be competitive for a long, long time.”
The final Rangers legend to voice his support for the Islanders and its new arena was Rod Gilbert. “The rivalry between us and the Islanders is magical,” said the Hall of Famer. “I want to see this situation with the arena finally get settled and I know I speak for the Rangers organization when I say that I want to see the Islanders franchise strong forever and ever.”
Lastly, current Ranger center Brian Boyle weighed in on the issue. “For the players and the fans, our games against the Islanders are the most exciting of the regular season and I Hope some day we’ll battle in the playoffs,” said Boyle, who last week signed a three-year deal to stay on Broadway. “What we have with the Islanders and the Devils, with the teams in such close proximity, is special. I don’t ever want to see that change and I hope the best for the Islanders and their fans throughout New York.”
As much as I dislike the Islanders and- for the most part- their fans, it would be bad for hockey in the New York area to lose a team. New York teams should never fail, those are designated for Connecticut, Arizona, Georgia and other states across the country. Not New York.
I do think this proposed arena will be approved and the Islanders will stay in Nassau. If not, well, then it will be a huge black eye for New York area sports.
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