NY ISLANDERS REPORT: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss



Where to even begin? Let’s do a quick review…


At the same time the Internet and fans were passing around Barroway items as being a done deal that would be announced right after the Stanley Cup finals, what they did not know was that Barroway was already out. He just didn’t know it yet. Charles Wang, besides the desire for a higher valuation, also wanted something else. He wanted someone to first take a minority share and have transition time, something that I had mentioned long before we started down the rumor path. It never changed. He was not ready to let go of the team.


Despite fan derision, Charles Wang has been a very involved party as owner and attentive to the Hockey Operations. If you have noted the Islanders upheaval of business cuts over the years, very few ever gutted the hockey operations. We can debate the ‘cap floor level’, but those on the Islanders argue that spending would only happen once the rebuild was at a consistent playoff level, and point to the longterm contracts doled out to core players as proof positive of willingness to spend for the right things.


TANGENT TIME: In fact, despite that some others, ignorant to the inner workings of the Isles, seemed to allude that the Isles scouting staff was pared down for financial reasons, it was due to another reason altogether. It is the overhaul of the mistakes, miscues and bare cupboard left by the ‘Milbury years’. They now use a new system heavy in analytics that was put in place back in 2006, a whopping 8 years ago. 


Ok, back to our story….
Finally this past summer, the conservative and patient approach by the Islanders had to be adjusted. Where the Isles seemed to hoping that development and maturity would be the guiding factor to the playoffs last season, they were quickly shown that it wasn’t enough. So Garth relented on his conservative approach and got aggressive. Especially feeling the mounting pressure of Charles Wang’s plan to get some sort of ownership options done. Garth Snow needed to push improvement very quickly. He has basically two years to show that now.


Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin first met with the NHL either in late April or early May. Both of them were told that there wasn’t much competition for the NY Islanders, WHICH really does seem to indicate that the NHL was already informed of what Charles Wang really thought of Andrew Barroway.


In fact: the NHL knew that Charles Wang was hanging Barroway out to dry. The high NHL figure reportedly said so to one source before completion of the Stanley Cup Finals. Barroway seemed to be the only one unable to read the business tea leaves, or perhaps just didn’t want to admit the truth. Meanwhile, the rumors kept on coming, taking the NY Islanders frustrated fans for a very unfair and unneeded ride based on months old news that was already dead in the water.


Ledecky and Makin then met Charles Wang.  That process then carried forth with some ups and downs, but finally, it was done soon after the Barroway machine revved up angrily with a lawsuit. A lawsuit that looks far too much like sour grapes based on their own timeline. A lawsuit that shows NO signed contract whatsoever, NOR a Letter of Understanding … a key need if no signed contract, per one source that is familiar with the NHL team purchase process.


“There should have been a binding letter of understanding agreed to before the docs were completed. … (That without it) Don’t think they were as far along as Barroway alleges.” – Source


Now that Ledecky and Malkin are to be installed as minority shareholders with the transition period, let us examine some elements that are not as understood. I have mentioned these on twitter, but will list them here:


  • Charles Wang is not disappearing. Far from it.


  • As goodwill and to begin the “partnership” Charles Wang will begin to loop both minority shareholders into his decision-making process. Just as when ownership shifts, Charles will be then in the loop with them.


  • Once Ledecky and Malkin take the 2/3 majority share in two years, Charles Wang will retain roughly what amounts to 1/3. The basic structure is Ledecky and Malkin are the controlling majority, but Charles remains involved as a key shareholder.


  • In two years: one of the controlling majority will then be given a managing partner: very likely Ledecky.


  • Despite that Ledecky will be in control, he will have two other key voices and significant partners to consult with: Malkin and Charles Wang. Think as a rough comparison of the NY Yankees with the Steinbrenner siblings.


In speaking to someone who knows both Ledecky and Malkin, they quickly gave me this rundown:
“Not Mark Cuban, George Steinbrenner types. Will want to win, but won’t accept losing $$$. Will not bring in retread front office types or former players just because others do.” – Source


So, will fans suddenly see high spending in two years, right? Not so fast…
“The Islanders will not be a cap team (high cap). Spending will stay about the same level. Cost of the team makes higher spending prohibitive.” – Source


Garth Snow’s prospects?

“My guess is if team improves, Garth stays. He has an highly regarded reputation for contract management.” – Source


Fan expectations vs. reality with new ownership?
“(It will be) interesting to see if the new owners get heat  (from fans) when signing core players down the line necessitates moving some key people. Won’t be able to pay them all. So they better win in next few years!” – Source


Sobering thoughts to fans who think that somehow a new owner is a sudden or impending magic pill.


But then again…. Only time will tell. Tick tock.




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About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.

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  1. Nobigwhup says:

    IMO, mgmt will spend where they see fit and will manage to a budget. This is not the Gov’t, but a business. No one is asking for NY Ranger spending. Spent to a budget and work within a budget that maximizes the on-ice product. Players like JT, KO, and the identifed core will get their $$$. Key decisions on other players will be made based on prospects, the cap and what can be gotten based on the short term and long term perspectives.

    They will have cash to work with as the cable rights and lease agreements are attractive. Add the increase of jersey sales and other marketing options which come with Brooklyn/NYC.

    This is a team on the cust of major success. They will ride it, invest where necessary to maintain what they built and we, the fans will enjoy it

  2. Terence Timlin says:

    That is the most intelligent insightful analysis of the inner workings of this franchise.
    People forget that Charles has spent on this team early and made mistakes but I believe we are on very solid footings now and our NHL GM has done some nice work. Time will tell.

    • Clebo99 says:

      Totally agree. Wang did spend early and we had some mild success. He’s not the devil everyone makes him out to be. I think it’s a good time for him to leave but I won’t be dancing on his grave.

  3. Jethro09 says:

    The only thing that matters is that Wang will no longer have final say in 2 years. Wang’s decision-making has been the biggest reason this team has been borderline unwatachable since 2000. Wang has run this franchise like a circus, accepting mediocrity and losing in return for keeping costs down. There has been no accountability for losing and the acceptance of mediocrity under Wang’s ownership has permeated through the entire organization. The numbers don’t lie: Wang has five playoff appearances in 14 seasons, with the other seasons being bottom five finishes. Wang has been culprit #1 behind this team’s shortcomings.

    The removal of Wang having final say is an enormous step to restoring credibility and respect. I will forever be thankful that he kept the team in NY and don’t mind if he’s along for the ride when the new owners take over a majority. However, Wang cannot be allowed to make final decisions on hockey-related matters or else the team will never improve.

  4. OJ says:

    The quote about spending remaining the same due to the cost of the team doesn’t make sense. The money is all being paid to Wang. They are moving to a more lucrative market. Spending will increase above what is being spent now.