The Islanders open their first regular season as Barclays Center tenants on October 9th and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't plan on watching it on TV.
While attending the Beyond Sport United conference at the Prudential Center on Wednesday, Bettman told Neil Best of Newsday that he'll be in the crowd to watch the Islanders take on the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks that evening. A game, by the way, that might not have been simply the result of the luck of the scheduling draw.
When it was suggested to Bettman that the game should be extra enticing because it will be against the reigning Stanley Cup champion, he laughed and said, "You think that was an accident?"
We have plenty of evidence that Bettman grew up an Islanders fan. The Long Island native says as much in Kevin Connolly's 30-for-30 film on John Spano, and Jonathon Gatehouse's book The Instigator says the future commish gravitated to following expansion teams from Day 1 rather than joining long established bandwagons.
In Best's article, Bettman sounds like a lot of fans who are looking forward to the short trip to Brooklyn from Manhattan, as well as one anxious to look past the arena's... quirks as the Islanders start their next era in their new home.
Bettman said that when he used to attend Islanders games during the week, he would leave his midtown Manhattan office at 5 p.m. and perhaps make it for the opening faceoff.
"The three or four times I've been down to the Barclays Center, from my desk, it's 22 minutes," he said.
Bettman added, "I think everybody's very excited about their future in Brooklyn . . . It'll be different but it's a nice place to go and the Nassau Coliseum was and is past its due date and so the Islanders needed a new facility. Was [Barclays] built especially for hockey? No, but it'll be great."
If you're at the opening game, take a look around the concourse and maybe you'll see a VIP who's really just like you: hockey fan, working in NYC and zipping over to Atlantic Avenue at the end of the day. So what if he's 200 times richer than any of us?