The ice at Barclays Center has been a hot topic since the Islanders entered the facility to begin the 2015-16 season. On Wednesday, for the first time since sustaining a season-ending left hamstring injury March 31, John Tavares will skate at Barclays in a preseason game against the Flyers.
“I don’t try to think about it a whole lot, I think the more you worry about it the more kind of gets in your head,’’ Tavares said Tuesday at Northwell Health Ice Center. The Islanders captain has described the Barclays ice as soft. “It’s obvious we’re not playing in a traditional rink that was built for hockey,’’ he said. “They’ve done a lot of work just to make it playable for us over the last couple of years, just trying to make the conditions as best as possible with what you can do.
“From the way I’ve been told, the way the system is," Tavares continued, “it’s just never going to be quite like what you’re going to get in the arena that was traditionally built for hockey. Honestly, I don’t really worry about it I just go out there and play.’’
Cal Clutterbuck was upset last season when Tavares, who said his heel got caught in the ice, went down against the Devils. Clutterbuck is expecting a better surface this year. “I think everyone’s aware it’s been an issue in the past,’’ he said, “and I think from my understanding they’re trying to work it out, trying to figure out how to make it better.
“It’s hard to keep buildings cold enough to produce a good ice surface this time of year. The ice at MSG (Monday night) wasn’t great, either. I know there’s a lot of people working hard to try to get that rectified for us (at Barclays),” Clutterbuck said. “They can figure it out and it could be a thing of the past. Last year, it was something we’ve been harping on for two years that didn’t seem to be any improvement. And you’re frustrated when you’re trying to make the playoffs and your super star player goes down because of an issue like that.’’
Tavares added, “Obviously, the ice can be better, it is what it is . . . but I know that they’re working as hard as they can to improve it. as much as they can and make it safe and obviously make it good ice so it shows off our game and why our league is so great.’’
Doug Weight said he has been involved in discussions on how to improve the ice. “They’ve learned a lot, and now they’ve learned they need some constant attention,’’ he said, “and they’ve dealt with that so I give Barclays credit, I give the Islanders ownership credit. We worked on it all summer. It’s important to us and I think it’s important to our players.’’
A spokeswoman for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which manages Barclays Center, said in a statement, “We are working with the NHL and taking all of the necessary steps to ensure that we’re delivering a world-class experience for the Islanders.”