Thursday, January 30, 2014

Will the NY Islanders Move to Brooklyn Hipster-fy Hockey?

For years, I've been telling everyone how hockey will become a widely popular sport and receive the attention it deserves on network television and in the media, mainly because I wanted more friends to watch games with me (...). Although football and basketball fans still outnumber hockey by a stretch, a recent article states that the NHL is selling out more arenas than the NBA this season. Yes those numbers might be skewed by the NBA's performance, but there are other signs that hockey might be growing in popularity; for one, I've been seeing occasional San Jose Sharks photos in my Facebook and Instagram feeds from unsuspecting west coast hockey fans, and two, Apple decided to include the LA Kings in their newest iPad Air commercial.

Apple approves of ice hockey.

But the true tipping point of my hockey popularity theory will be its adoption by hipsters. In 2011, I sensed the hipster hockey trend as the NHL and Versus' (now owned by NBC) aggressively marketed to hipsters in Williamsburg. Now, with the impending 2015 move of the New York Islanders to Barclays Center in Brooklyn--the hipster-fying of hockey is inevitable. Who wants to bet Pharrell will be sporting a throwback hockey jersey at the 2016 Grammys?

Will Hipsters ruin hockey?
The thought crossed my mind this Monday when I attended an Islanders/Bruins game at the current Nassau Coliseum venue out in Long Island. Stepping inside the Islanders arena was like stepping back into time, as if the arena hasn't changed since the 80s. Of all the NHL hockey games I've attended, this was the first time that prior to the game there was a moment of silence for an original season ticket holder who recently passed away. That and the rowdy Islanders fan section felt pleasantly intimate.

Sean and I are smiling because the Bruins won 6-3
Will the history, family-like atmosphere and camaraderie disappear at Barclays? I hope not. The move has received mixed feelings by Islanders fans, but my hope is the move will inject energy into the franchise while still preserving all its quirks and traditions (like those Ice Girls!).  In many ways, hipsters and hockey is a destined combination--eclectic warmup music from techno to country, beards and swearing. I have high hopes that Brooklyn, NY Islanders fans and hipsters can make it work.

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