Hockey’s Latest Relocation Threat: NY Islanders

July 27, 2009
Home of the NY Islanders... for now

Home of the NY Islanders... for now

By Ryan Mojo

Doesn’t it seem like every year a different hockey team threatens to move? In the past 10 years the Sabres, Senators, Thrashers, Oilers, Penguins, and Coyotes have all threatened to move from their respected cities for financial reasons. All these situations have included long legal debates between team owners and local governments. The debates are always about the very best issues in sports, funding new corporate arenas, tax revenue, avoiding bankruptcy… Ya know!? All the things that made you fall in love with sports in the first place.

Now it’s Long Island’s turn at the carousel as the long suffering Islanders are now trying to remodel the Nassau Coliseum, not to mention turn the surrounding area into a state of the art commerce center. This project is being proposed by Charles Wang, the man who turned Computer Associates into a corporate giant, and retired just before his partner Sanjay Kumar was indicted and later charged for fraud and obstruction of justice. In a nutshell, Charles Wang did what George Bluth couldn’t. Despite selling his ownership in CA, he still kept the Islanders. Wang truly cares about the team, and he’s been very active in the organization. Perhaps  even too active for a guy whose never even learned how to skate. Despite numerous front office moves that will boggle any hockey fans mind, he has been a terrific owner. And his main goal has always been to keep the Isles on the Island forever.  His project,  called the Lighthouse,  will include a newly renovated coliseum, a minor league baseball park, housing, hotels, shopping center, a fitness center, and a 30 story office building that will resemble a lighthouse and is an expensive and bold undertaking much of which Wang and his partners will cover.  Nassau County has been pushing this project and has given Wang their full support. However the Town of Hempstead is being a true pain in Wang’s ass, specifically town supervisor Kate Murray who has expressed concerns about infrastructure and traffic related implications of the project .

Until recently she has been absent from any meetings or events related to the lighthouse and always declining to comment on the positive impact it could have on the town. She made a huge beef about the environmental assessment and slowed negotiations to snail-speed because she doesn’t think it’s that important. Government officials are never sports fans in these situations, that’s a fact. Lately she has started to get more involved in the negotiations, but she really needs to give this thing her complete attention if it is ever going to get done. As for Wang and the Islanders, they have to have plans in place regardless of what the town does. This season the Islanders will play a few pre season games in Kansas City.  KC has been jonsin’ for a hockey team for a long time, They tried hard to get the Penguins, they will trey even harder this time to get the Islanders. Wang reportedly looses an average of 23 million dollars a season as owner of the Isles. Crappy team, crappy arena, and crappy attendance will do that. But he still has no plans of selling the team as of now, and he is 100% dedicated to keeping the team here. The lighthouse project is simply the only way he can move forward with the franchise on Long Island without continuing to lose millions.  Islander’s fans are very lucky to have an owner like Wang,  because if anybody else owned the team, they would already be gone.

The Islanders might suck, and have sucked for a long time. But the potential is still there. And Long Island supports this team well. When the Islanders have a shot, there are very few places like the coliseum. But this is the first time a New York team has considered leaving since the Giants and Dodgers. They left because of City officials and old stadiums that were infested with rats, sort of like the Islanders and the coliseum.  The saving grace in this situation is that the Islanders are locked into the Coliseum until 2015, a lease extension that Wang himself pushed for when he took over the team in 2000. There is time to get this Lighthouse deal done, but it would save everyone involved a lot of stress and money if it gets done soon. These things do have a knack for lingering until the last minute. In my personal opinion, the Islanders need to stay on Long Island. They are part of the local fabric; everyone on Long Island has fond memories of the Coliseum. I believe Jordan and Brandon saw their first pair off boobs at an Islander’s game, and I was almost killed by a drunken tattooed biker for wearing a Rangers jersey. We can’t lose the Islanders. This story is still yet to fully develop, is still very early in the process,  but it will be gaining more and more attention as we creep towards fall.  But this is Long Island. Even if the negotiations go well and the ground breaking commences, the whole thing can blow up in their face once a couple of LI housewives complain about the increased traffic on Hempstead Turnpike. If you thought the town supervisor was a bitch, then your in for a real surprise.

I’ll be checking back in soon Sports Fans, don’t you worry!



Boston Will Host Winter Classic

July 18, 2009

Editor’s Note:  Ryan Morley is a guest blogger, and close friend of ours, who will drop in randomly from time to time to speak his mind on the NHL. We hope to have more from Ryan this fall as the season gets underway.  Take it away Ryan!

Hello Everybody!  This, is going to be a good one!

The Bruins and Flyers will play at Fenway Park on news year’s day for the NHL’s version of the Winter Classic . Originally I had hoped that they would hold it in New York at the new Yankee Stadium, but the fact is, the Rangers just aren’t the biggest draw right now. Despite inking Gaborik to a juicy long term deal worth big bucks, I’m still not convinced the Rangers can score more than 2 goals a game, which is not what the NHL wants.

The Islanders did the right thing and behaved themselves on draft day; picked 18-year-old prodigy Jonathan Tavares, but for now they don’t deserve to be on television.

The Devils on the other hand would be a safe bet, star goalie, fun team to watch, Tony Soprano, they would work well. But people from Jersey would have a very rough time getting up for a 1:00 puck drop on New Years Day;  Jersey fans don’t care enough to brave the cold winter weather.

The other choices were Denver and Beaver Stadium in State College, PA, home of Penn State’s Nittany Lions. But the Avs are terrible, and the league wants to keep the Crosby bromance to a minimum for now, we got the full dosage last season.

So Fenway it is, and I could not be more excited for this one. The Bruins are tough and exciting to watch, as are the Flyers. I am not a fan of either of these teams whatsoever, in fact I have partaken in many chants during my life, expressing the suckitude of these teams and the cities they represent. But I digress. This match up is perfect. These teams are not as crazy and coked up as they were in the 70’s, when the cops had to get involved in their brawls.

But I wouldn’t be shocked if there are a few on ice felonies on January 1st .

It’s ironic, the NHL loves telling the public how they don’t condone fighting and it should be phased out of the game (which is completely insane by the way, its part of the game people). Yet, they are going to have the 2 most physical and fist clinchin’ teams go at it LIVE, on nation television… in a baseball stadium. Little contradictory isn’t it?

Truth is, its a marketing based approach, and it’s the correct one. The NFL loves taking this approach. You will hear Roger Goodell tell the public how he is focused on taking care of the players well being, and disciplining them to act like professionals on the field. But even he knows, if players don’t act like psychopaths on the field, then his product is less entertaining, and less popular, Trust me, when Ray Lewis dances like a maniac after he crushing Sage Rosenfels neck, Goodell will be dancing in his office. It’s business. He knows if your that crazy on a field, you are going to be at least a little wacky off it as well. So Gary Bettman and the NHL will take a page from the NFL’s playbook and do something similar. Your going to see some old time hockey in this one.

This will be great TV, Fenway will look beautiful with an ice rink in the middle of the field, and the stands filled with black and gold. Let’s hope its ten below and snowing. The teams have big stars such as Jeff Carter and Danny Briere on Philly and Zdeno Chara and Phil Kessel on the B’s. Boston also boasts goalie Tim Thomas, last years’ winner of the Veniza trophy. Good teams, good players, great venue, a ton of beers, and a pro sports league that pushes violence with out saying so. My kinda game.