Mon May 10 04:47pm EDT
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has a piece Monday that chronicles how many NHL teams might be for sale now or in the near future.
It's provocative and insightful, and more than a little depressing when you recall the lockout hell we went through for the sake of "cost certainty," only to see billionaires losing enough money to hit eject as NHL owners.
One passage near the end, however, struck us as really curious:
Another situation that bears watching is the New York Islanders. Reports that owner Charles Wang is ready to walk away from the franchise appear to be a little premature, but there is little doubt he is running out of patience. The Lighthouse Project, which would have given the Islanders a new arena and revitalized the area, looks like it will be scaled back considerably if it even sees the light of day.
Wang has lost millions over the past 10 years and might not be willing to wait another 10 years to get a new building. Waiting in the wings is New York Mets owner Jeffrey Wilpon, who could buy the team and move it to a new arena near the Mets' new Citi Field.
Now, granted, we don't follow the details of the Islanders' plight the way others do, so the notion of Wilpon potentially buying, owning and relocating the franchise was new to us. We knew the Mets were keen on hosting the Winter Classic at Citi and have what's been described as a "good relationship" with (former? current?) Islanders fan and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
But owning the Islanders?
Turns out that last year the Borough of Queens made public its desire to have the Isles move near Citi. From the Daily News:
"This is the time to aggressively go after this," said Jack Friedman, the chamber's executive vice president. "It's time to bring Lord Stanley back to Long Island, and Queens is on Long Island."
Friedman, whose plans to lure the Islanders were first reported in the Queens News in February, has suggested the team move to Willets Point, a maze of auto body shops slated for a major overhaul near the Mets' home, Citi Field.
But no word in the article about Wilpon buying the Islanders. We'll leave that clarion call to Joe McDonald of NY Sports Scene, who wrote last year that the pairing made too much sense:
With a purchase of the Islanders, who are valued by Forbes at $154 million, the Wilpons could use the second franchise to create synergy with the Mets. Since both franchises share the same fan base, the Isles could use the publicity the Mets generate with capacity crowds at Citi Field. And although the television contract is enslaved to Cablevision, the Wilpons could still use SNY for Isles news coverage until they eventually get the games.
Campbell may just be connecting the dots here, or there might be something more concrete. The Lighthouse Project is where it is, after all. Any of the Islanders fans/readers/bloggers/loyalists know anything more about this?
All we know is that this chatter brings us closer to finally having Billy Smith Night for the Mets and for Garth Snow to be advised by Omar Minaya on all transactions.