Today's topic is an old one but a good one.
Why is it the New York Islanders in a market desperate for hockey attention decide to get away from it all again with this year's training camp scheduled for Ted Nolan's former team in Moncton from September 14Th thru 23rd?
I know these things are scheduled as much as a year in advance.
I understand why Yarmouth, NS and Moncton want to host Islander training camp and this is not meant as any knock against those places or Lake Placid or any other place the Islanders have picked for camp in the recent past. Having an NHL team in these places is great for hockey there and good for business in those towns and will bring attention to the club. The Islanders will play the Montreal Canadians in a
pre-season game on September 19Th in Moncton.
That said, this was a club last season that during the season invited fans to come to the Coliseum and purchase seats, meet the coach, gm, players, Bossy and staff, full access tours. Anything to get the fans to become interested after a good start did not fill the seats in a market consumed with baseball in September and October.
Mike Bossy at the time said this would have been unheard of back when he was a player to give fans this kind of access in his blog because hockey and the Islanders were so much more popular.
But that was then and this is now. Hockey cannot compete on any level with baseball, football or basketball for fans or coverage but leaving town for camp sure does not seem like a good idea.
Why not change that process beginning with camp in 2008-09?
Hold it not at Ice Works but at the Nassau Coliseum and let the public see everything. Create more local interest, sell more tickets, bring in more media. Not every paper will go to Moncton, not every paper will go to Nassau Coliseum, but the more fan exposure and local interest and more people will buy tickets and become interested.
I can understand why the organization does not schedule more than one home exhibition game. The season ticket holders have to pay for it and prices are high enough and a lot of teams pick other locations to make up for it and fans in those places who cannot see NHL hockey can watch a game. The idea to schedule a game at Harbor Yard (Isles will play Devils there this pre-season) is a good idea.
Mr Wang's idea of having the kids in for a second Nassau Coliseum Cool-School Day Game was a great idea, why not bring that back for next season?
This is another reason why hockey season always starts slowly here, the opener will likely sellout, but once you hit that first weeknight game, it's a tough sell because it's like starting up cold after virtually no buildup that should have begun in September and can if the club would only allow it.
Granted I have not considered Smg or Nassau Coliseum's schedule in this, but feel the Islanders as the primary tenant would have control over this.
In a market so dominated by other sports, mid-summer prospepct camp scrimmage games at IceWorks fill the stands, the teams meet and greet before the season begins usually brings out solid numbers and many remember the September-October 2002 rally where a reported 8,000 people went to Eisenhower Park.
The fans are there but more has to be done to get them to turn their attention to Islander Hockey earlier. The Havoc Energy Zone was a big hit but is also a big hit to the club to give up those seats at only twenty dollars after not getting fans interested from Day One.
Training Camp at Nassau Coliseum in the opinion of New York Islander Fan Central would be a good start for next season's Day One.