Islanders fans have been through a lot in recent years. Bad personnel decision after bad personnel decision has mired the franchise in mediocrity for decades. Any time the team showed a glimmer of hope, it has been swiftly followed by disaster.
One step forward, two steps back. Rinse, repeat.
This has not been unique to current owner Charles Wang, but you’d never know it by talking to anyone in that passionate group that sits in one section of the upper bowl. As the rest of the arena serves more as a mausoleum of past glory than any sort of coliseum, they chant derisively at Wang to sell the team, among other things.
Well, it appears they may be on the verge of finally getting what they want.
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
It’s rather harsh treatment from many of the same people who gathered at rallies just a few years ago at the Uniondale Marriott in favor of Wang’s Lighthouse Project, his plan to revolutionize not only Nassau Coliseum and the Islanders, but a major part of Long Island as a whole.
Harsh indeed for the man who has sunk well over $200 million of his own cash into the team since regretfully buying it in 2000, just to keep it afloat. That report is five years old, by the way. Do you think he made any of his money back yet?
Wang, who has very little historical ties to the team or Long Island, refused time and again to move to greener pastures such as Kansas City, Quebec, Toronto and Seattle. His connection with Long Island and love for the community grew exponentially as he fought tooth-and-nail to keep them in New York. Ultimately, his plans were deemed too grandiose, too ambitious, too unrealistic by Nassau County’s governing body.
This process took years. But Wang never stopped trying. Does this sound like a man worthy of the ire of a small, yet passionate, fanbase? Ask an old Hartford Whalers fan what you should think of the situation. They’ll slap you across the face.
When all else failed, including having a proposal voted down by Nassau County’s very residents, he was left with no choice but to move. But unlike the Thrashers or Whalers, who up and moved to places far outside of the fan’s reasonable reach, he still opted to stay local.
The team is set to move to Brooklyn after the 2014-15 NHL season, where they will play at the Barclays Center. With a stop already built in on the Long Island Railroad, the loyal fans Wang cares so much about wouldn’t have to go far to watch their
misguided beloved Islanders.
Now, nobody is saying the man is a hockey savant. His undying loyalty to Long Island extends to his general manager and friend Garth Snow. Snow was hired despite a glaring lack of experience in 2006. He has run the team into the ground a few times, failing to emerge from a rebuild full of highly-touted prospects and early-round picks. Since then, the Blackhawks, Bruins, Penguins and Kings have all won the Stanley Cup with rosters largely made up of players they drafted. The Islanders have made the playoffs just twice, winning a combined three games.
It’s right to be upset if you’re an Islanders fan. It’s right to want change if things aren’t working. Snow has made a mockery of a once-great organization. Jack Capuano’s tactics and methods can hardly be described as adequate. One could argue that a regime change is prerequisite to success at this point for the franchise. And that starts at the top, I suppose.
But let’s not pretend here, folks. Charles Wang isn’t considering selling the team to make it better. He’s selling the team because he’s had enough. That love affair with Long Island, the pride of getting his hands dirty and making the Islanders a global product, it’s all gone.
The feeling, quite obviously, is mutual. As a result of frustration with the laughable on-ice product, fans want heads to roll, including his.
That’s kind of a funny way of saying “thank you” for allowing them to still have a team to be upset over in the first place.