The New York Islanders took to the ice on Sept. 12, beginning training camp with shooting and skating drills in their soon-to-be home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The on-ice workouts were one of the few customary things the team did during the day. Players, coaches and staff took the 8:51 a.m. train from the Long Island Rail Road station in Garden City to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, which is across the street from the Barclays Center.
LIRR President Helena Williams saw the team off and said having Islanders players take the train into Brooklyn demonstrates how simple it is. The LIRR offers direct trains to Atlantic Terminal and Williams said there would be plenty of trains in service at the end of each game for fans to get home.
“It couldn’t be easier for Islanders fans to use the Long Island Rail Road to go see their favorite hockey team,” she said. “This is really going to be, I think, the beginning of a very exciting new era for the Islanders.”
Last year, Islanders owner Charles Wang announced his team would be moving to Brooklyn once its lease at Nassau Coliseum is up in 2015. After several failed attempts to redevelop the Nassau Hub, in which the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum stands, Wang signed a 25-year lease with the Barclays Center, beginning with the 2015-16 season. In 2011, Nassau County voters defeated a referendum that would have publicly financed a new arena.
Although Wang, who was all smiles after the Islanders wrapped up day one of training camp, said he would be open to playing regular season games in Brooklyn during the 2014-15 season, the team is prepared to complete its lease with Nassau County. “Our plan is to honor the written commitment of the lease,” he said.
The Islanders will square off against the New Jersey Devils in a preseason game on Sept. 21 at the Barclays Center, which will be the first professional hockey game in Brooklyn. The team practiced there for the first time on Sept. 12.
As the players exited Atlantic Terminal, crossed the road and entered the Barclays Center, Bruce Ratner, who developed the arena and was also awarded the rights to redevelop the Nassau Hub in August, and Brett Yormark, Barclays Center CEO, greeted them.