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Islander dispute with Nassau County - Could it mean early arrival of NHL club?

Bruce Bennett

The Islanders are committed to start playing in Brooklyn in 2015, but as any Nets official --or fan-- knows, selling tickets to a lame duck franchise, particularly one that's losing, is a very, very difficult task. Since the Islanders' 25-year lease with Barclays Center was announced in October, there have been rumors that the team would love to make a move earlier ... and now that prospect has some traction.

On Saturday, Newsday revealed that the Islanders and Nassau County, owner of the Nassau Coliseum, have been in a dispute over delinquent lease and other payments on one hand and a claim by the Islanders that the county owes them money for repairs made to the 40-year-old arena. The amounts in dispute are in the millions. And its starting to get ugly.

That's led at least one writer to suggest that the stage is being set for an early departure. "Will the team leave the county owned Coliseum before its current lease is up?" asks Paul Wolfle of "In theory, the Islanders could strike a bargain to make good on their debt with Nassau County in exchange for releasing the former NHL dynasty out of their current lease. Will it happen?"

An early arrival, of course, would give the arena and Nets an additional revenue source and prestige in the battle with MSG and the Dolans. The Islanders are currently in last place in the NHL's Atlantic Division, dead last in attendance, league-wide and reportedly losing tens of millions of dollars a year..