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Islanders not concerned with rumours about arena future

Islanders not concerned with rumours about arena future

NEW YORK — John Tavares has been through this before, hearing talk about where the New York Islanders will play in the future. He prefers to just focus on playing.

“I’m just going to try to get ready for every game,” the captain said Tuesday. “I’ve got enough to worry about just trying to focus on playing and making the playoffs. I think all that stuff will take care of itself.”

In the midst of the Islanders’ second season at Barclays Center, the team’s future in Brooklyn was called into question Monday when Bloomberg reported arena management wasn’t counting on any revenue from the hockey club beyond the 2018-19 season.

Islanders management and Barclays Center both declined comment on Monday.

“They’re reports,” Tavares said. “I haven’t heard anything set in stone. Obviously, whatever happens will happen.”

After spending the franchise’s first 43 years at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders moved to Brooklyn for the start of the 2015-16 season under a 25-year lease that was announced in 2012.

That deal was reached after a failed attempt to secure public financing for a new arena on Long Island and zoning approval was rejected for a privately funded development plan that would have included renovations to the Coliseum. It also appeared to secure the Islanders’ future in New York amid talk the team could move to another city.

The lease with Barclays Center, however, has an opt-out clause with a January 2018 deadline that either side can exercise. If the Islanders choose to leave, they can do so as early as after the 2017-18 season, while either side can terminate the deal effective at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Newsday first reported details of the opt-out clause last September. The newspaper had previously reported Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin had discussions with the New York Racing Authority about the potential of building a new arena at Belmont Park, and had talked to the New York Mets about an arena next to Citi Field.

Islanders interim coach Doug Weight dismissed any impact the reports have on the team’s focus at it chases a third straight playoff berth.

“It doesn’t affect us,” Weight said. “Those things are going to occur in any situation. It really has no bearing on what we have to do. .. As far as i’m concerned, it’ll take care of itself.”

With their 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, the Islanders improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven games and moved within three points of Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference’s second wild card.

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Freelance writer Christian Arnold contributed to this report.

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Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP

Vin A. Cherwoo, The Associated Press

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