Imagine this scenario. In a year or two, the arena at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush becomes known as "Barclays Center, home of the Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders ... and oh yeah, the Brooklyn Nets."
Don't dismiss it. The Nets are coming off a 21-win season and few if any believe, next year will be much better. Meanwhile, the Isles are in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and looking like a young team on the rise. Moreover, after a season of complaints, chronicled by everyone from arena critics to hockey columnists, Barclays has finally become a home.
Andrew Gross of The Record writes Tuesday about the transformation at the arena and in the neighborhoods nearby.
"The first round was electric because of the excitement of the team being competitive," said MSG Network analyst and hockey historian Stan Fischler, tells Gross. "For the first playoffs in Brooklyn, the decibel count was at least equal to what it was at Nassau. There was the ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ chant. It’s very exciting to see how the fans adapted."
Fischler notes that the move from Nassau Coliseum to Barclays was bound to be difficult. Fans who followed the team were going from urban to suburban, tail-gating to transit, and from an arena, no matter how threadbare, that was built for hockey to one built for basketball. There were complaints about a new horn, new black-and-white uniforms, missing Islander traditions and recently, bad ice.
"It takes about a year to work out the growing pains," Fischler said. "I feel the adaptation has gone faster than I thought it would."
That's a big boost for Brett Yormark, who's taken the brunt of fans' complaints. "It’s clear that momentum is building for hockey in Brooklyn next season."
Will the Nets ever fill Barclays with the ear-splitting noise? If they win, maybe, but as of now, the Islanders' fanbase is more engaged, louder, rowdier (inciting some neighborhood anger). And Barclays, despite its limitations, is more the home of a hockey team.