I’ve been reluctant to write about this, but for some odd reason, I feel compelled to do so once again. Andrew Barroway is suing New York Islanders owner Charles Wang for 10 million dollars because of they had a “Hand Shake” agreement that Wang would sell the New York Islanders for over 400 million dollars and then Wang backed away from the deal. When was Charles ever quoted in saying he was selling the Islanders?
In April there were news that Charles Wang was listening to offers on the Islanders. Never said anything about selling the team, just listening to offers. That’s like Josh Bailey on the trade block during the trade deadline or during this summer having all of the Isles “General Mangers” trading him for a top 4 defenseman, yet he never got traded. In June it was quoted by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in Newsday:
“He hasn’t come to the conclusion yet on whether he wants to sell — sell all, sell a piece,” Bettman said at a news conference.
Then in a CBS article Bettman is again quoted saying the following:
“He’s very attached to the Islanders. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Bettman said in late April. “He’s looking forward to the move to Barclays.”
So what has changed since June? Absolutely nothing. Usually when a new owner comes in, he/she or they make sweeping changes to management and bring in their own people, just ask the Calgary Flames former General Manager Jay Feaster. Once again, the first red flag for me that Charles Wang was still just feeling out offers but not really serious about selling this team was the announcement of Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano returning for next season the day after locker cleanout. If there was a sale coming during this summer, Capuano would not have been hired so early. Unfortunately, NHL & Isles fans longing to rid themselves of Charles were pulled into an unnecessary drama from Andrew Barroway and just emotionally abused once again. He, like a few before him, went public that he was willing to purchase the Islanders and had many desperate fans wrapped around his finger in the hopes it would be done during the summer and put pressure on Charles to sell.
Here’s the bigger issue that Islanders fans should worry about when it comes to a future owner of the Islanders: If you didn’t like the Islanders on a budget before, you’ll hate it with the next owner. According to a November 2013 Forbes article the Islanders are worth 195 million dollars. Yes, the Islanders moving to Brooklyn will probably increase in their value, but not up to +400 million anytime soon. That lucrative (roughly) 17 million cable deal will not be around for the next 25 years either, so the team will be losing some profit as well. So I believe the rumors that said that Barroway was going on a budget to make sure his investors make money each year, but Islanders fans know what it’s like to see a product on a budget. Different owner(s), same results.
Also, please don’t get into all that “Hand Shake” agreement. Being a former business owner, anyone paying that amount of money should have had something in writing, especially when the team is not even close to that kind of value. This not Oceans’ 13 where Charles Wang “shook hands with Sinatra.” If Sinatra were still alive and Charles shook his hand, Sinatra would be the next Isles owner. Barroway is just miffed because he didn’t due his due diligence and Charles possibly found someone else who is about to make a bigger dumb business decision and severely overpay for team that has yet to move into a new building.
So yes, if Charles Wang can recoup his losses over that past +10 years and either break even or make a slight profit from someone naïve enough to give him that amount, he should sell this team. He will have accomplished two things: First, he did technically keep the Isles on Long Island and second, he and the Isles fans did get a new arena. As for Isles fans, you got rid of the only owner who had any kind of money. Now if another owner comes in and you get the sweeping changes of Islander General Manager Garth Snow getting axed and the release of Head Coach Jack Capuano, there will be that temporary relief that positive change is on the horizon. But if the definition of profit from Isles fans come in the form of wins and playoffs, well, you just got a new owner who spent close to a half a billion dollars, I’d be concerned if you know your Islanders history.
It’s time to refocus. Time to get into this upcoming season because this team is much better than a year ago. It’s the last year of the Coliseum and fans should take in as many games as possible. Relish and savor this season. Don’t worry about Charles selling the team. He wants to it see them succeed just as badly as every Islanders fan. It looks like it could be this year. Granted, it took a little longer than expected, but this is the here and now. It’s time to win. Is it October yet? (Yup, went there)