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Ever so subtly, Nets owner and arena partner Mikhail Prokhorov adjusts his stance on hockey in Brooklyn.
The NBA New Jersey Nets move to Brooklyn has given local media all kinds of new juicy story lines to chase, but the most relevant to die-hard New York Islanders fans is, of course, what they plan to do with that nifty ice plant in the brand new Barclays Center.
To that end, the New York Post's Rich Calder took some fodder from the arena ribbon-cutting presser with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the basketball-obsessed Russian who had previously said a hockey team wasn't in the cards. Now Prokhorov has an ever-so-slightly different tune on the question of bringing an NHL team to Barlcays Center:
"First I need to have a [NBA] championship, so after this I can think — but not before."
Cagey. And also clever, as Prokhorov has also boldly asserted that he expects to have an NBA title by 2015.
2015 ... Two-thousand-fifteen ... now why does that year ring a bel-oh-yes-right, that's the year the New York Islanders become free agents at the conclusion of their 30-year lease with Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The nimble language didn't end with 2015, however. In their Russian cop/developer cop relationship, Bruce Ratner has always been the more vocal of the two about bringing hockey, specifically the Islanders, to Brooklyn's ingloriously sponsored new arena-center-wedge-shape-thing. To that end, Prokohorov deferred to Ratner:
Prokhorov said he only has 45 percent interest in the arena and that arena developer Bruce Ratner "knows best."
"If [Ratner] wants to, it’s great, but it is better for him to make the decision," Prokhorov said.
Naturally it is in their interest, and in their arena's interest, to keep this low-volume buzz alive. No one knows where this saga ends. Two guys own an arena, one of them also owns a basketball team, and a third guy (Charles Wang) owns a hockey team that will need a new home soon.
Until that home is found, the public theater and parsing of statements by musing Isles fans shall continue.
Especially when, well, it's not like there's NHL hockey to watch in 2012.