This article originally appeared on VICE Sports Canada.
Following several weeks of public complaints from players and others around the NHL, the league is reportedly sending experts to investigate the ongoing problems with the ice at Barclays Center in New York.
The arena in Brooklyn—which houses both the Nets of the NBA and the Islanders of the NHL—has been on the wrong end of criticism for its lack of functionality for hockey. The location is inconvenient, the site lines are hindered, the crowds are small (the Islanders have the worst attendance in the NHL) and the atmosphere is weak. Most importantly, for the players' sake, the ice is bad. Very, very bad.
The extent of the investigation and what can actually be done to rectify things is still unclear, but it's the first tiny step in trying to fix what many feel is a massive problem. Recent complaints from notable Islanders players themselves have highlighted the ongoing issues of the sub-standard ice surface at Barclays.
After a home game against Arizona in late October (a win, no less), Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck didn't hold back when speaking to reporters about the questionable ice surface.
"From about the 5-6 minute mark of the second, you knew it was one of those nights," Clutterbuck said. "You basically couldn't string three passes together, the ice was unplayable."
He went on to say that it was "the worst ice I've ever seen in my nine years [in the league]"
Defenceman Johnny Boychuk, who scored the game-winning goal said, "the ice was real bouncy today so there wasn't much to do but throw it on net." That's just how he scored, taking a sloppy whack at a rolling puck, floating a knuckling piece of rubber passed a confused Coyotes goaltender.
Complaints about the playing surface are nothing new, as players have been airing their grievances with the ice in some way or another since the team made the move from Long Island to begin the 2015-16 season. After a game in late March, former Islander Kyle Okposo shared his thoughts.
"Awful. Can't have it like that." Okposo said, "It's got to change. It's got to be better than that."
The fact that many players aren't happy with the ice has been well noted, but the reasons why the surface continues to play so awful are not so clear. A source close to the Islanders and the situation at Barclays Center recently told Chris Botta that the floor piping system at the arena does not meet the NHL standard for ice-making. Botta further stated that Barclays has PVP piping, while all other NHL rinks have steel pipes. PVC piping, he said, cannot maintain ideal temperatures of 21 degrees for NHL play.
"Only solution is to tear up Barclays Center floor and install proper piping. Not easy, but should have been done in offseason," he continued.
Whatever the experts find is the reason(s), it's uncertain how much longer professionals in the NHL can or should be expected to compete on a surface that is clearly a detriment to the quality of the game. Fans are noticing, too, as the Islanders boasted the league's third-lowest attendance—averaging just 13,626 per game—during the 2015-16 season, their first in Brooklyn. And they drew just a hair over 10,000 for their last home game on Tuesday, a 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay. While the Islanders are off to a slow start, they had a strong 2015-16 season, making the playoffs for the second consecutive year. They were knocked out by the Lightning in the second round.
There's never a shortage of unnecessary drama involving the New York City sports scene, even when it comes to their second-favorite hockey team.