FanHouse's Chris Botta reported Wednesday morning that at least six municipalities are waiting should the New York Islanders begin searching for a new home on Oct. 4, one day after the deadline owner Charles Wang has set for the Lighthouse Project to be resolved.
It goes without saying that the best solution for the Islanders -- and their fans -- is for the team to remain on Long Island. I think we're all rooting for that, but let's just for a second pretend that the worst case scenario plays out, and on Oct. 4 the Islanders are forced to begin listening to offers from other markets. Who might come calling?
Here are some guesses ranging from the logical and obvious, to perhaps the illogical and not-so-obvious. In other words, we're throwing darts at a map.
Kansas City, Missouri. An obvious choice. Kansas City has a brand new, 19,000-seat state-of-the-art arena that is collecting dust as it currently has no team to play in it. It was a potential landing spot for the Pittsburgh Penguins three years ago, and is scheduled to host an Islanders exhibition game against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, Sep. 22 -- the same day as a re-zoning hearing for the Lighthouse Project.
Hamilton, Ontario. In Chris' initial report, he quotes a Jim Balsillie spokesperson as saying "at this juncture, I can confirm Jim's only interest is in purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes and relocating them to Hamilton." But doesn't he have to say that at this point? The bottom line is, until there's a team playing in Hamilton it's going to be mentioned as a possibility -- and will be a possibility -- whenever another market appears even the slightest bit vulnerable. And, let's face it, Jim Balsillie will be a thorn in Gary Bettman's side and will not stop until he gets a team of his own, even if he has to knock on the door of every club in the NHL, one by one. He's already attempted to get Pittsburgh, Nashville and Phoenix. Why not the Islanders at some point, as well?
Las Vegas, Nevada. Why not? Sin City has no professional sports teams, but it's dipped its toes in the pool in recent years by hosting the NBA All-Star game and bringing in the NHL awards ceremony this past summer.
Queens, New York. Could this be the next best solution if the Lighthouse Project falls though? Wang was raised in Queens, the borough has showed interest in the past, and it's located on Long Island. The team keeps its name, Wang gets to say he kept the team on Long Island, and everybody is happy. The problem, as is always the case, is a building to play in. Can Queens build a new hockey arena so soon after the construction of the gargantuan Citi Field?
Portland, Oregon. The only part of the United States that doesn't currently house an NHL team is the Pacific Northwest. The NBA's Trailblazers are currently the only game in town, and the Rose Garden is a relatively new building -- which eliminates the problem of finding a place to play, or funding the construction of a new one -- that can hold over 18,000 for hockey. Another possibility might be ...
Seattle, Washington. There's an opening in the Seattle sports schedule since the Sonics bolted for Oklahoma City prior to this season. The problem, as always, is the arena situation, especially since the Sonics used the lack of a new building as an excuse to skip town. Built in 1964 (and renovated in 1994) KeyArena could still be viable for the short-term, but something new would likely be needed for the long-term. Plus, it's not like the Pacific Northwest is unfamiliar with hockey, even though there's not an NHL team in the area. Seattle is currently home to the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.
Other guesses both in, and out, of New York: Suffolk County, Brooklyn, and the old standbys Hartford and Winnipeg.