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Report: Charles Wang exploring options outside of New York for Islanders

Feb 13, 2012, 12:51 PM EDT

Charles Wang Getty Images

The New York Islanders are busy looking for a way to stay on Long Island with their lease at Nassau Coliseum coming to an end in 2015, but owner Charles Wang may be starting to look elsewhere for a solution to a new arena.

Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank reports that while Wang has long said he’s dead set on keeping the Islanders in New York, he’s letting his eye stray elsewhere.

Wang does not want to leave Nassau County, and staying put remains his first choice. But when I asked top executives to confirm that Wang will only consider overtures from municipalities within the New York metropolitan area, I could not get a promise on or off the record.

“I can’t guarantee that anymore,” said one source on high. “They are looking at options inside and outside of New York State. It would be misleading to say New York only.”

So there you have it.

After Wang wasn’t allowed to build his Lighthouse Project and after getting his arena referendum shot down this summer, it’s easy to see why Wang is frustrated with the situation. There is the Barclays Center opening in Brooklyn in the fall of this year, and while the Isles will play a preseason game there in October, the building wasn’t constructed with hockey in mind.

While the folks in Brooklyn may want the Islanders to make it their home, with a capacity that’s smaller than what Winnipeg has going on, the team can’t clean up on tickets there and Wang is assuredly tired of losing money.

Only thing for sure out of this, people in Quebec City, Seattle, and Kansas City are suddenly a lot more curious about how the Islanders are doing.

  1. benshroyer - Feb 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Call me crazy, but with nowhere for the Coyotes to move at the moment, Seattle talking about having a building constructed around 2015, and Islanders lease running out also in ’15 we might see this

    • benshroyer - Feb 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM (forgot my snarky photoshop)

  2. bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Hard to know how reliable Botta is as a source for what is really going on with the Islanders. Hopefully his highly placed source is full of hot air. Hopefully the Islanders make a statement publicly denying the Botta claim and affirming their commitment to staying in NY.

    In any event, I don’t see Bettman and the NHL approving a sale of the Islanders out of NY. They will not want to give up on that presence in this market with the Islanders’ history and future potential.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Feb 13, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      long island has about as much hockey history as the Minnesota North Stars did. Except they won the Cups. Minnesota is a hockey hot bed and they let him walk to Dallas…

      • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        Excuse me? “Except they won the Cups”? The Cups are what being an NHL team is all about.

        The islanders are the last team to win 4 straight championships in any sport, the only team to ever win 19 straight playoffs series. Saying the Stars, who only even made it to the Finals once and were crushed there by–wait for it–the New York Islanders have as much hockey history as the Islanders is an absurd statement.

      • terminalcityhockey - Feb 13, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        Well… To be fair, the North Stars lost to Pittsburgh in the finals as well… But yeah.

      • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 4:26 PM

        OK, my bad. But in both those cases, they were a cinderrella team and, in fact, had a losing record in 1991.

        Point is being in existence as long or longer doesn’t equate to historical relevance. Martinsburg, WV was founded about 30 years before Washington, DC and its a lovely place, but no one in their right mind would suggest that it has the historical importance Washington has. Whats more I suspect that the Stars would still be in Minnesota if they had the kind of success the Islanders had in the 1980s.

  3. bigtganks - Feb 13, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Salt Lake City?

  4. newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 13, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Joe Yerdon has to be one of the laziest people ever to reprint garbage. Wang’s Lighthouse project? Wang’s referendum?

    The Lighthouse project was Scott Rechler’s project with Charles Wang, the referendum was Ed Mangano’s idea and plan, Wang is only a tenant running the Coluseum until 2015 via a 17m dollar sublease agreement.

    Failed former media relations coordinator no longer has a blog, it’s now run by another failure who got dumped by AOL Fanhouse with him a year ago.

    He’s now Dolan’s writer selling Dolan’s team daily, so why is he making up more sourced based gossip that tells us nothing new when Wang made it clear he would speak or listen to anyone long ago.

    Last thing Wang said on the subject was he is honoring his lease and the team is not for sale. He owns the Marriott, spent 90m dollars for it and owns it permanently past 2015 and bought the management rights to Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport for the Sound Tigers and per last month are profitable per Wang’s President in Ct, Howard Saffan.

    Enough lazy sourced based rumor and gossip from failed former employees with a grudge unless you want to find some to talk about Dolan’s failed teams and operations.

    • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      Don’t disagree with your points, but I still feel that it would be wise for the organization to make an unequivocal statement about staying in NY. Better yet, it would be great if the Isles aggressively pursued an offer from Brooklyn or Queens and then set a deadline for Nassau and ToH to act. The longer this stays unsettled, the longer Garth cannot land the best FAs, the longer these stories keep popping up, and the herder it is to rebuild the fanbase.

      • newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 13, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Charles Wang is not the kind of owner who disrupts his teams hockey season, or is going to take the focus off games. This is not reality television and he will not permit it to be a distraction with statements that force his players to comment or make it like Phoenix.

        He did his October deadline a few years ago and that was with Rechler and Suozzi in his corner.

        That’s his history, the puck drops, the talking stops, many owners never speak he was at the Lighthouse Tournament with the kids a few weeks ago, the third jersey party, Streit’s naming as captain.

        Why is Charles Wang going to move his team away from a hotel he spent 90m dollars for and bought out Rechler’s share to own entirely and renovate?

        No one lands the best free agents anywhere unless they give someone a 10-20m dollar check for the first year. That’s what front-loading is and what 20 teams (including Toronto-Montreal) will not do. That has nothing to do with the Coliseum.

        As long as Dolan runs Newsday and hides games on Msg+2 there will be no New York hockey fan base for a sport mostly invisible with the publc. He’s driven away all major media in baseball’s town with NJ football.

      • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 3:43 PM

        I am talking about a hard deadline–as in we will sign a lease in Brooklyn or Queens by such and such a date unless we have a commitment from Nassau and ToH.

        I am sorry but I don’t buy your argument about the NVMC having no role in FA decisions. FAs do not want to commit here because they do not know what or where this team’s future will be. Until that gets resolved, landing the best FAs will be very difficult even when the team starts winning.

        There was a strong fanbase for this team in the 1980s before a series of poor owners ruined it. Unfortunately CW has been unable to get the team back on track although Snow has made great strides. A pity that CW kept Milbury on as GM, but water under the bridge.

      • newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 13, 2012 at 4:14 PM

        No team owner anywhere has given hard deadlines, that’s not realistic and horrible business practice.

        My argument on free agency is no top free agent in this era has signed anywhere without a fat front-loaded contract and a 10-20m dollar check in hand.

        The New York Islanders and 20 other teams have never landed such a player because of this problem in this cba era. Snow has to sell the building angle for his boss, but reality is Erhoff could not get a 10-20m dollar check from Vancouver for 2011-12 so he was traded. Same thing with Wisniewski, who Columbus also massively front-loaded.

        You think players with a cba expiring want to lose money in givebacks or escrow. Cash up front is the draw, it’s not a New York Islander/Coliseum issue any more than it’s an ACC issue in Toronto. No 20m immediately, no signing.

        The 1990s are long gone, the Milbury era under Wang with four playoffs in six years is over.

        As for Charles Wang he spent his money on Tavares, Okposo, Grabner, Bailey, Nielsen, Steit, Moulson and many others and all of them seemed very happy to want to be a part of his organization.

        Trent Hunter the day after he got traded before his buyout with every reason to be bitter did nothing but praise Charles Wang and said he’s been here as long as Wang.

        Peca, Osgood, Yashin all these former players have done nothing but praise the organization.

        As for these stories, Ryan Smyth said it best, who’s Larry Brooks?

      • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 4:38 PM

        You mean the Milbury era when the team’s future was mortgaged to get 4 one and done playoff appearances? Yes, that’s done and thank God for it being done!!!

        Michalek’s deal wasn’t frontloaded at all and Martin’s and Hamhuis’ only slightly. The Islanders future as well as prospects for Cup contention were the bigger factors. Ehrhoff was a unique situation.

        I’m talking about convincing players who aren’t in the organization to sign here. I do know that Garth has done a solid job of hanging on to players who are here that he wants to keep–with the glaring exception of Smyth who probably wasn’t staying no matter what Garth did.

      • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        Oh and other owners arent in CW’s situation. They dont have the local jurisdiction beholden to local fat cats that has been in power since before Lincoln’s presidency stonewalling a new arena or renovation. They don’t have an arena deal being held up for years with no apparent end in sight except the end of a lease in 2015 and all manner of stories like this one about the team leaving the area when the lease expires.

  5. newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 13, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Failed former media relations coordinator selling rangers:

    Joe, do me a favor, put this on your site, I need pageviews and to get people linking to my former site, no one notices me and I cannot write anything about the Dolan’s Rangers that’s not fluff or I would be out of hockey and my friends like Brooks would never have my back again.

    Joe Yerdon:
    Slow day, no problem let’s slop anything against the wall to get some attention.

    For the more astute Islander fans following this fiasco, Ed Mangano’s get developers to develop the Hub with or without the Coliseum has been scheduled for 2/14 for well over a month.

    No one needs a former failed former media relations coordinator to dredge up rumors and gossip for his own profile to know that already.

    • newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 13, 2012 at 10:48 PM

      Are you honestly telling me Milan Michalek, Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis are top free agents? Those are not franchise star talents that require a massively front-loaded contract.

      Hamhuis got traded from Nashville to Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and even Comcast would notoriously front-load could not sign him. Same with the Devils and Paul Martin.

      Ehrhoff and Wisniewski are not unique situations, they are the newest versious of grossly overvalued players and if they can their biggest portions of their money early they will take it rather than forfeit it in a buyout like Drury or wind up like Redden who was grossly overpaid and stuck playing in the AHL.

      Why do you think Ryan Smyth did not sign here besides wanting to play on the West Coast? The Isles could not front-load his contract, Colorado did and got stuck with him. Once he got the bulk of his cash he became tradable which is how he went to the Kings now the Oilers. This is how it played out with Jason Blake, Scott Gomez, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter.

      Cash up front, not about an arena.

    • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      They are absolutely unique and Hamhuis has numbers very comparable to Ehrhoff even though he spent his entire career in Nashville before signing with VAN. I’d prefer him to Ehrhoff and I’d prefer any of the defensemen mentioned to Wiz. Smyth’s was location, not money. The Coliseum issue is a huge factor in attracting FAs.

      • newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 14, 2012 at 12:53 AM

        You keep writing the Coliseum issue is a huge issue, Garth Snow said a few years ago it was one factor.

        Maybe if enough people keep writing the same thing that means perception becomes reality for them. The only difference between the 1972 Nassau Coliseum vs the 1968 Cablevison Garden is the massive front-loaded contracts.

        No one signs at Cablevsion without front-loaded money or a huge overpayment. Richards got a 20m dollar check to play on the fourth line there this season, he receives another ten next year.

        What top UFA has the Nassau Coliseum cost this franchise when the money was equal and NOT FRONT-LOADED?

        What top free agent picked Toronto or Montreal? They will not front-load and cannot get any top free agents to sign there same as here. About 20 other teams have the same problem and have never landed such a player.

        Yes, the market and the system is that bad Erhoff and Wisniewski will get those kind of front-loaded offers. Most teams are bleeding red ink and cannot hand anyone ten million dollars on signing day.

  6. newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Joe Yerdon, why don’t you impress us?

    This is a blog supposedly for what is now Ed (Smg) Snider’s Comcast Flyers who bought controlling interest with former Msg part owner, NBC, kicked out Dick (Msg) Ebersol who was a garden salesman.

    NBC sports is now Flyer owner, Ed Snider’s toy and #1 team, Tim Panaccio is his salesman at Csn Philadelphia.

    Spent some money.

    Pick up the telephone yourself. get an on the record comment from Nassau County Executive, Ed Mangano or his man, Rob Walker, and then call the Islanders and request a comment from Michael Picker.

    No sources, rumors, direct quotes only and no failed former media relations coordinators with an agenda. Comcast has the money based on Snider’s Smg running the Coliseum and Igloo into the ground with their management’s all these years to afford a phone call.

    Impress us, break some of your own news.

  7. 2qswing - Feb 13, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    wishfull thinking from a Jackets season ticket holder. Mr. Wang, move them here and combine them with the Jackets. Between your 8-10 NHL calibre players and our 7, you have a legit team. Nationwide is a great facility and hosting the all star game next year.
    OK I can wake up now

  8. quizguy66 - Feb 13, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Hartford would be the geographically closest option outside of the NYC-metro area. Still would hate to see the Isles leave LI much as I’d like to see the Whalers return.


    • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 11:15 PM

      Don’t agree. If the Isles were winning Stanley Cups, they’d be filling the NVMC every night and there’d be a lot more public pressure to ensure they stayed.

  9. blitzthepig - Feb 13, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    No Islander fan here, just a hockey fan who appreciates greatness. The Islanders were once a great franchise. How many teams can say they’ve won 4 straight cups? This is not about hockey on Long Island, that its all about politics. Dems vs Republicans and visa versa. It is without a doubt the Islanders will leave Long Island and leave behind a horrendous building in area going nowhere. The political powers at be can’t or don’t want to see the immediate aftermath of the Islander departure. What a shame. The Mets, Devils,Nets,Jets,Giants and of course the Yankees all got new buildings. Why not the Islanders? Just ask Kate Murray and her minions. They have all the answers. Ciao Islanders, nice knowing you.

    • bcisleman - Feb 13, 2012 at 7:41 PM

      It is just possible that when Wang finally does get a deal to move to Brooklyn or Queens that Nassau and the ToH will make a last minute effort to keep them. Of course, if the Isles were winning as they were in the 1980s, this conversation wouldnt even be taking place. Nassau and ToH have felt no pressure because the team has been struggling. A nice playoff run this year could change things.

      • newyorkislanderfancentral - Feb 13, 2012 at 10:52 PM

        This team could 82-0 win the Stanley Cup in sixteen games and Nassau County officials would not attend one game. Mangano’s too busy celebrating the NJ Giants and all the other teams.

        It could be 1980-1983 and Nassau County would act exactly the same.

        Charles Wang is not moving his team away from his 90m dollar hotel that he owns on the property permanently.

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