Ownership change is always an exciting moment in franchise’s history. It’s a passing of the torch, a new voice for an organization.
I remember when Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar purchased the New York Islanders in 2000. Alas, I was only 10 years old, but I remember skimming through Newsday (yes, I actually read the paper when I was 10) and feeling as if it was an every day occurrence—the change in ownership, that is.
For the fifth time since 1996, there had been a shift in the Islanders ownership group. For all I knew, it was a revolving door. Like coaches and general managers, owners bought hockey teams to “get fired.”
But here were are, 15 years later. Wang still owns the Islanders and, whether you like him or not, he gave the franchise a form of consistency they hadn’t had. Ever.
I know there are a lot of people who don’t like Wang, but I think, at the end of the day, he’ll leave behind a legacy of doing what he could to keep the team in Nassau County and, eventually, in New York. Two more seasons of Wang being “the guy” and then a new era begins.
Anyways, the 10 things I think I think heading into the weekend…
1) I know many bashed a lot of the moves made under Wang in hindsight, but I’ll never forget the excitement that 10-year-old Chris saw when he acquired Alexei Yashin from the Ottawa Senators. I still stand by that move. While he was certainly overpaid and the Islanders certainly gave up a lot for him (again, in hindsight), his contract came during a time that there was no salary cap and the Islanders had been BAD. The Islanders made the playoffs four out of the five seasons he was here. Until John Tavares collected 81 points, it was Yashin’s 75 in 2001-02 that stood as the highest total for an Islanders player since Zigmund Palffy’s 90 in 1996-97.
2) Don’t get me wrong: Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin should be a nice change for the Islanders. My only fear about the two-headed monster ownership group? It usually never works out in business. Egos get in the way. Remember that time, recently, with the Tampa Bay Lightning? When Oren Koules and Len Barrie bought the team and basically disagreed until they almost destroyed the franchise within one season of owning them? Koules and Barrie hired Barry Melrose to coach the team and almost traded Steven Stamkos to the New York Rangers. I just don’t want that happening in Brooklyn.
3) Islanders prospect Joshua Ho-Sang is famously known for being outspoken. Earlier this week, he was in the news again after he called Hockey Canada’s decision to leave him off its summer developmental camp “insulting.” Good. Just keep lighting the fire underneath him, Hockey Canada.
4) Also noteworthy is that Ho-Sang said he wants to be better than Tavares. Hey, if Ho-Sang can achieve that, I’m all for it. Some say he’s cocky, but I see it differently. I see Ho-Sang as a kid that will use everything to motivate him. Go for it.
5) Oh, and Ho-Sang’s shootout goal the other day? Oof. I know it barely means anything, but he has a ton of talent.
6) The Islanders released a new patch to be worn in commemoration of their final season at the Nassau Coliseum. I like it, but no Spongebob? I kid.
7) Did anyone else hear Howie Rose the other night on the Sports Zone podcast? Phenomenal stuff on the team and its final season at the Coliseum.
8) Darryl Belfrey trains many top NHLers in the offseason, including Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The other day, he says both players are at the best “he’s ever seen” and he expects the duo to take another step forward. That’s encouraging, especially following Tavares’s injury back in February.
9) Does anybody else hope Rick DiPietro is eventually an adored figure by Islanders fans? The other day, he tweeted that his “biggest regret in life is not bringing the Cup to LI.” I still believe that. When he was healthy, he was an All-Star. His body broke down on him. Maybe I just have a soft spot for Ricky, but I hope his legacy goes down as a player that would have done anything for this team—a player that wanted to be here when nobody else did.
10) Less that one month before training camp. Come on!