NEW YORK – The New York Islanders agreed to play a pre-season game against the Los Angeles Kings next September in Kansas City, raising questions about their future on Long Island.
While scheduling exhibition games in other cities is not uncommon, Islanders owner Charles Wang has been unhappy that the team has not been able to get approval for a new arena for several years, and there has been talk he might sell or move the team.
Kansas City recently built an NHL-ready arena and has been trying to lure a team. Officials made an offer to the Penguins in 2007 before the club received funding for a new rink in Pittsburgh.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow told local media Thursday that he was not concerned with the reaction to the choice of locale for the game. The decision was hockey based.
“We always played pre-season games in different markets,” he said. “This is just another opportunity for us to bring this organization and our team to a different market.”
The Islanders, last in the NHL with 28 points this season, have been playing in the Nassau Coliseum – with modest renovations – since the franchise joined the league in 1972. Wang has been trying to gain approval from the Town of Hempstead for a huge real estate development called the “Lighthouse Project,” which includes the arena.
No NHL club has relocated since the Hartford Whalers moved to Carolina in 1997.