Islanders move game-day practices back to Long Island
New York Islanders' Brock Nelson, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
NEW YORK (AP) Midway through their first season in Brooklyn, the New York Islanders are changing their routine and moving their game-day practices back to Long Island.
For home games this season – New York's first since leaving Nassau Coliseum after 43 years – the Islanders had been taking the Long Island Rail Road to Brooklyn for a morning skate at 10:30 a.m. at the Barclays Center. After about a 30-minute practice, the players held their open media session, ate a team-provided meal in the locker room and then took afternoon naps at a nearby hotel.
That routine wore on the players, who still live on Long Island. They asked to move the game-day practices to their facility in Syosset, where they work out other days.
''We're just trying to get a sense of it all,'' Islanders captain John Tavares. ''There's the ups and downs of the season. Just because you go Brooklyn twice on the train in the morning (in the preseason) and stay in a hotel and it feels great, now in January it may not feel that way. We're just trying different things. I don't think it's anything to read too much into.''
Spending the day in Brooklyn meant players would leave home in the morning and wouldn't return until close to midnight. Now, they'll take the Long Island Rail Road into Brooklyn in the afternoon for night games.
''Just long days,'' forward Anders Lee said. ''Being out all day, I think it got a little long. This way we're home – can eat around (there) and go in a little bit later for the game.''
Islanders coach Jack Capuano said the change in the routine – with started Thursday – was not necessarily permanent, and it could return to spending the day in Brooklyn.
''We're going to give this a try and see how it goes,'' Capuano said. ''We will do this for the next two games and maybe the whole month. … It's something we discussed in summertime in our meetings. Whatever it takes to make the guys feel comfortable and be prepared for 60 minutes, myself and the coach staff will adopt anything we have to do.''
The Islanders, in second place in the Metropolitan Division, are 13-7-2 over their first 22 home games of the season. They lost 4-1 to league-leading Washington on Thursday night and play six of their next eight at home.
Freelance writer Allan Kreda contributed to this report.
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