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First Round Will Be at Coliseum; Rest of Playoffs in Brooklyn [updated]

Gotta love the Friday evening bad news dump.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at New York Islanders
Better than nothing, right?
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it’s officially official, and I can’t say that I’m too happy about it, but I guess we’ll have to take it.

The Islanders, should they qualify for the playoffs, will play the first round’s home games at NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but only the first round. Should they advance, they will play at Barclays Center.

From the team’s announcement on their website:

Following consultation with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, the New York Islanders and BSE Global have announced that should the Islanders qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, any first round home playoff games will take place at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Should the team qualify for further rounds of the playoffs, any home Islanders games will take place at Barclays Center, reflecting that the Nassau Coliseum does not qualify as an NHL major league facility.

This agreement has been approved by the NHL, with the understanding that the scheduling of games will be in accordance with usual League practices.

While it’s impossible to disagree with the fact that the Coliseum is no longer an “NHL major league facility” by capacity, it is still the better building of the two to watch a hockey game, and I think the players would say it’s their preferred place to play.

Home ice advantage is real, and though Barclays Center is a more modern arena, it is further removed from the core of the Islanders fan base. And like so many arenas built since the mid-1990s, it is steep and cavernous and ultimately quiet. Playoff hockey is a different animal, of course, and it will draw enough fans from Long Island to fill it up, but it doesn’t get nearly as loud as the low-ceiling Coliseum, especially given how loud the Coliseum gets come playoff time.

I give to you Exhibit A:

And Exhibit B (sorry to link the Traitor):

Barclays Center makes plenty of noise when the time calls for it, as you can clearly see — or hear, I should say. But you could argue that the Coliseum registered more decibels for a penalty shot in Game 4 than Barclays did for a 2OT game- and series-clincher.

From my own experience, having attended playoff games at both arenas, chants take off much quicker at the Coliseum, and are certainly more deafening. I’m sure that, on the whole, opposing players tend to ignore the noise as best they can. But the Coliseum makes such a task more difficult, more frequently throughout the game.

At the end of the day, it probably comes down to money — hell, it definitely comes down to money, and Barclays dwarfs the Coliseum in terms of luxury boxes, which is where the biggest money is made. Ticket prices at Barclays, at face value, are generally more expensive, as well, and will be during the playoffs. And there are more seats at Barclays Center. Never count on the NHL taking less money to help out the fans when given the choice.

As has been intimated elsewhere, it’s also possible that the Coliseum’s still antiquated broadcast infrastructure - which was upgraded as part of the $6 million renovations this past year - still wouldn’t be up to snuff when more media start showing up for games deeper in the playoffs. Local broadcasters and media handle a team’s first round games.

At least we’ll have some at the Old Barn, but especially in light of what Bob McKenzie spoke of the other night, I had really started to hope and believe all the games this season would be at the Coliseum. Tomorrow night was supposed to be the last Islanders game at the Barclays Center this season, and possibly ever if they decided to nix playing at Barclays altogether next season. If things work out in the Islanders favor this spring, they’ll be back there again. And so will we, even if it’s not the ideal situation.

Newsday’s story on this contains quotes from players about both arenas, but maybe Jordan Eberle has it right:

“Logistically, the Coliseum works out a little bit easier for us,” right wing Jordan Eberle said. “The consensus here is guys like playing at the Coliseum. Wherever it may be, we’ve just got to be ready.”