Raise your hand if you thought Charles Wang would ever sell the Islanders. If you raised your hand you’re a psychic and god bless you.
Late last night TSN’s Bob McKenzie sent out a tweet that shook Islanders country. One that was years overdue. Charles Wang is in “talks” to sell the team. However, he cautions that nothing is close or might not happen but HOLY EVERYTHING! The day all fans have been wishing for so long may become reality.
I guess it’s a good thing I don’t go to bed “early” (laughs). Just before midnight the news broke and I had to make sure it wasn’t coming from a fake account but it was legit. Folks, if McKenzie or Darren Dreger reports it I would believe it. Call them the Adam Schefter’s of the NHL…they are that good.
Let’s change gears and talk about what this would mean to the management, coaching staff, players and the philosophy of the team.
First up is the management. If Wang does sell, the new owners would likely clean house and bring in their own team who could right the ship. When talking about management, we are talking from the scouting department down to Garth Snow. Between each aspect of upper management they have taken a once proud franchise and turned it into a complete joke. Sure Snow has made some smart moves during his time as GM but he clearly needs to rethink the whole philosophy of putting a team together through the draft and stuck in the never ending cycle of rebuilding.
Next up… the coaching staff. What can I say about the coaching staff. Aside from Peter Laviolette and Ted Nolan the Islanders have employed coaches who seem to falter at the highest level. Dating back to the last few years, more exactly the past few Novembers into Decembers, the Islanders have had very little if any success winning games and essentially end any chance of playoffs before Christmas even starts. A lot of that falls on the coaches to right the ship and change their system and adjust to other teams. Other coaches would sit struggling players or have a general manager make a trade to shake thing up around the locker room but the Islanders just sit back and watch games go by losing one by one until they are so far behind in the standings that nothing could bring them close to the playoffs. You can go under the assumption that when the season ends Capuano and his crew will be let go.
(Side note: Garth Snow is on record saying he would not sit back and watch games slip away…Guess what he did! So much for being a man of his word…actually he has never been one to keep his word.)
Now onto the players who actually determine the outcome of the games. The Islanders have enough talent to win, with the right coaching staff. With guys like Tavares, Nabokov, Clutterbuck, Martin, De Haan, Strome, Lee, Nelson and Cizikas they have a good start to becoming winners again. The Islanders have put too much faith in all of their young players to see that building through the draft doesn’t always work. Clearly noted. Just look at Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson and Josh Bailey. Garth Snow was hell bent on declaring these players, among others, to be the future of the team, not so much anymore. Poulin and Nilsson both have struggled mightily and Josh Bailey looks to have lost all of his confidence and ability to play the game of hockey. Again, there are other players that need to be mentioned but this post isn’t about players who have regressed.
If Wang was to sell and I find it hard to believe he won’t, the philosophy of this team changes substantially. Without Wang at the helm this team can start to look like a real NHL team instead of a minor league team. It would also allow the Islanders to attract free agents and become relevant once again. The general manager and his staff would be able to create a team that can compete on a daily basis. Not like I’m stating the obvious or anything but this team has been in need of a major overhaul for years, and now it might finally come.
I’ll start to wrap this post up shortly but first I want to just throw a few ideas out there of where and who Wang could sell the team to. The most logical scenario would be to sell the team to Brooklyn and Brett Yormark and Mikhail Prokhorov. I don’t just say that because the Islanders are set to move to the Barclays Center after next season, but because I truly believe that regardless of what happens this team will stay in New York for a very long time. Also, if you look at Prokhorov’s previous work with the Nets, his reputation of building a winning team bodes well for the Islanders and their fan base. The other thing it offers the Islanders aside from the team moving to a new state of the art facility, it also makes a great selling pitch to free agents. The other thing to remember here is that if the Islanders where to move out of New York the fan base practically ceases to exist.
Let’s talk about the possibility of moving the team out of New York. While it is an option, it is hard to imagine that this scenario would play out. Two reason I think that; 1) they have an ironclad contract with Brooklyn and 2) the Islanders belong in New York. Obviously, any contract can be broken under the right circumstances though it would be very hard to pull off. Hypothetically if you move the team out of New York where are they going? Seattle? Quebec? Kansas? Where? Personally, if Wang was so desperate to sell the team out of state I would imagine he would have sold the team a long time ago. One thing I will say about Wang, and you will never find me defending him, is that he stood with the team and lost more than his fair share of money, and like they say though money doesn’t grow on trees. The scenario of leaving New York seems unlikely but not out of the question. Also, let’s not forget who we are talking about here. Knowing the Islanders recent history anything can happen. One last thing, if the Islanders were to move out of New York, the new city would have to do their homework and decide if their demographics would support a franchise that has in essence failed Long Island since they won four straight Stanly Cups in the 80’s.
Click the link for an interesting short article from TSN regarding the situation.
I’ll leave you with that, but rest assured this offseason just got a whole lot more interesting between this breaking news, free agency, potential trades and the draft…
Stay tuned this will be fun!
NYI owner Charles Wang in talks to sell majority stake in NHL franchise. Nothing done yet, no telling if it gets done, but talks underway.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 28, 2014