Gov. Dannel Malloy invites Islanders to play in Hartford amid Barclays Center doubt

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has invited the New York Islanders to play in Hartford amid reports that the team's future in Brooklyn is in doubt.

Malloy, in a letter written Friday, suggested that the Islanders consider Hartford's XL Center as "an option for your interim use" and also as "a long-term solution to your needs."

The letter, which was obtained and published by CBS affiliate WFSB 3, also noted that Hartford has "more Fortune 500 companies than many NHL cities including Columbus, Raleigh, Buffalo and Nashville."

Malloy's letter was co-signed by Hartford mayor Luke Bronin and was addressed to Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin. Hartford was home to the NHL's Whalers from 1979 until 1997, when the franchise relocated to Carolina.

Malloy wrote that the Whalers' fan base "is still ranked as one of the NHL's most energetic" and also noted that the Islanders' AHL affiliate is in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

"This is a ready market anxious for an NHL team, eager to fill seats, buy merchandise, and support your team," Malloy wrote.

The Islanders ownership released a statement Friday evening:

"The public letter that the Connecticut Governor's office released earlier today was the first we had heard of the news. We are thrilled to be playing this season in front of our passionate New York Islanders fan base at Barclays Center, with the goal of making the playoffs. We look forward to another great year of New York Islanders hockey at Barclays Center next season."

The Islanders are playing their second season in Brooklyn's 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, when both the Islanders and Barclays Center can opt out of the current lease.

Islanders management and Barclays Center both declined comment earlier this week on the Bloomberg report.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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