A footnote about tonight's game against the Washington Capitals, but something worth watching in this first season for the Islanders in Brooklyn, is where they held today's morning skate: Back at their traditional practice facility, Iceworks in Syosset.
Much has been made of how the team would, and has, handled a changed routine this year with their home arena now about 30 miles (and a good hour or more, depending on car or train) away from Nassau Coliseum. Most of the players live out on Long Island -- we'll avert the geographic vs. cultural debate of "but Brooklyn is on Long Island" for this piece -- and were accustomed to driving to the Coliseum for morning skates.
(We'll also avert, for now, the on-going debate, which varies team by team, about whether there is even a need to do morning skates. The answer to that is probably "sometimes but not always," which is why teams occasionally skip them, as the Capitals did today.)
Thus far this season, the Islanders players have been doing a morning commute to Barclays Center, then staying in hotel rooms for the hockey ritual gameday nap. Despite the inconvenience, that probably made sense even if just to get accustomed to traveling to the new home, period. But they've been doing that drill long enough to work out the kinks through the first half of the season and form an impression of what works and what doesn't.
And they're ready to try an alternative. John Tavares explained to reporters (NHL.com | Newsday | Times):
"It's obviously been a big change this year going to Brooklyn and we're trying many different things to see what works best," Tavares said. "This allows you to spend more time at home, to feel like you are at home when we are playing at home. And I think mostly that's what it's about, to reduce some of the travel."
"It's our first time through the process this season. We're working out the kinks and trying to see what works best. At this point in the year I think as a group this is what we feel will be good for it."
Not only do the players think it's worth trying now; they're intending to stick with it:
Capuano told reporters at IceWorks today that #Isles will hold AM skate there on Tuesday and likely beyond. Players requested the move.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) January 7, 2016
[Update] That doesn't mean each player is foregoing the hotel in Brooklyn, however:
Heard that a few #Isles came to BK early and stayed at hotel. Think AM skates on LI give every player flexibility to do what he prefers.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) January 7, 2016
To Syosset, for now, and beyond?