When Will Wang Sell The Isles?

It was recently tweeted by Bob McKenzie of TSN that the owner of the New York Islanders, Charles Wang, is in talks to sell his majority stake hold of the team.

And the social media crowd went wild.

Islanders fans immediately jumped to conclusions about what the sale of the Islanders could mean for the future of the franchise.

A new owner with money means this team will sign free agents!

A new owner with money means we will FINALLY be a winning team!

A new owner could mean a new GM to erase the Vanek trade from our minds!

And on and on and on they went, only to hear from Charles himself to quickly extinguish the frenzy of excitement that took over the twitter sphere.

"In recent months, there have been numerous expressions of interest in the purchase of the New York Islanders. As I have consistently stated, I have been and remain willing to listen. However, potential buyers expressions of interest in the team or even my listening to them does not mean that any deal will be reached."

It would make perfect sense for Wang to sell the team at this juncture. Since buying the team, Wang insisted that he would do everything in his power to keep the New York Islanders on Long Island.

Although unsuccessful, that is exactly what he did. Wang attempted to achieve a new, or renovated Coliseum not once, but twice. His Lighthouse Project proposal, which would have been funded out of his pocket, would have kept the team in Nassau County and developed an extravagant and lucrative landscape that would have created jobs and boosted the local economy. But as we all know, it would only collect dust on Kate Murray's desk and ultimately be shut down by the Town of Hempstead.

He then went through the County, organizing a referendum vote in August of 2011 in an attempt to publicly fund a renovated Nassau Coliseum. The vote failed and left Wang with limited options as to what he would do with the franchise that has cost him hundreds of millions of dollars (Photo credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).

Lastly, Wang did what he did not want to do and moved the team. But he chose Brooklyn, a destination that is within reach for the majority of the current fan base and will provide the New York Islanders with a brand new, state of the art arena that should hopefully bring great success and wealth as the years pass by.

For a man that has lost an incredible amount of money year after year, it is hard to blame him for being open to selling the team.

He has done his duty. He helped resurrect a dying franchise in 2000 by opening his wallet and bringing the Islanders back into the playoffs in 2002, largely due to the help of Chris Osgood, Michael Peca and Alexei Yashin; all expensive additions. Their history with the team would prove more negative than positive thereafter, but the effort and desire was there from an owner that wanted to see his team win.

It cannot be ignored that Wang has made many mistakes while owner of this team. His "rule by committee" approach is responsible for the Neil Smith firing, the 15-year DiPietro deal and depending on your opinion, the hiring of GM Garth Snow.

But despite these mistakes and poor decisions, Wang never lost his desire to keep the New York Islanders in Nassau County despite losing countless dollars on a bottom-feeding team year after year.

Selling the Isles as they move to Brooklyn would set up a new owner with a franchise that is stocked with young talent and a new home, prime and ready for a breakout season. This year has been undoubtedly a huge disappointment, but the young talent is evidently ready for a few veterans to take this team back to the playoffs.

Players like Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Calvin de Haan have proven that they are ready to accept prime time roles with this franchise under the guidance of Travis Hamonic, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and their captain John Tavares. It can be argued that this team can return to playoff contention  with an upgrade in goal, added help on defense and another top six forward - all things money can buy.

However, the underlying issue is how much the team is worth in the eyes of a prospective buyer. With the team currently valued under $200 million, Wang has been hesitant to do away with a franchise that has lost him on average of $10 million a season since he bought the team nearly 15 years ago.

Perhaps waiting another year will garnish him a few more bucks if he were to sell the team. Waiting until the team is in Brooklyn could even make the Isles more attractive and higher in value as well.

But at the end of the day, these tweets and quotes have brought us nowhere. The New York Islanders have not been sold, and apparently are not close to being sold either. Could some news break this summer regarding the issue? Perhaps. Could it be a few more years down the line? Absolutely.

There is at least one thing that is certain; this is not the same owner from a few years ago. He's exhausted his options, done the best that he could and is apparently open to ridding himself from possibly the worst investment he's ever made.

Eventually, something's got to  give.

-Rob McGowan



Mike Hrankiwskyj's picture

The fact that McKenzie put this out there followed by Wang's statement tells me this is a lot closer to completion than not. It wouldn't make sense to put it out now if it weren't serious and/or close. I wouldn't be shocked if by summer this was done.