Whenever the New York Islanders become a contender again — and they're not that far away if they can beef up the blue line — there's going to be an outpouring of romantic nostalgia for the Franchise That Fell From Greatness, much like there was for the Chicago Blackhawks in their renaissance.
Of course, there was another facet to the Hawks' resurgence: a change in ownership, from Old Man Wirtz to Cool Son Wirtz.
Islanders fans hope they see that day come for their organization; that it might involve a beloved, now-ostracized ex-star player would be like a hockey fable.
The New York Post reports today that Pat LaFontaine was contacted by a group of Nigerian princes with stockpiles of gold … OK, check that, "European investors" that hope to buy the Islanders and keep them in Nassau:
LaFontaine, who starred for the Islanders for eight seasons and is in the top six in goals and points in team history, is intrigued by the opportunity and may look to put together some sort of bid, sources said.
Islanders owner Charles Wang, who is seeking a new arena and has vowed not to play a single game at the aged Nassau Coliseum beyond the July 2015 end of his lease, has quietly let it be known that he is willing to sell the franchise if the price is right, sources close to the NHL said.
Unfortunately for LaFontaine, who still lives on Long Island and is active in charities there, that price is said to be a sky-high $300 million.
So could this all come together?
B.D. Gallof of CBS Sports, who has followed the Islanders' arena headaches for years, thinks the $300 million figure could be accurate because if Wang wants out, he wants to recoup losses.
"Nobody will pay that price. They know this," wrote Gallof on Twitter.
Oh, you know those sources. The alleged asking price is around $300 million, which, if you were to maybe look into putting some sort of interpretation together, is another way of saying: "No, I'm not interested in selling, but I'm fine with the proverbial 'sources close to the NHL' conveying that that's what a franchise is worth these days."
As we move toward the expiration of the Coliseum lease in 2015, look for more and more of these types of stories. Every source, especially ones unnamed, have their reasons for talking. You don't have to question the validity of the reporting -- the "LaFontaine could join group to buy Isles" story is as old as his Hall of Fame ring -- but you should question the motives of any sources feeding them.
"Post story was designed to inflate hopes with lack of real definitive info. Will be one of many. I am told NOTHING to it."
Why? First, because he doesn't believe the team is for sale — yet. But mostly because he can't fathom someone paying double what the franchise was valued for by Forbes last year ($149 million) without there being any arena deal in place; or, for that matter, substantial hope that one could eventually be built in Nassau.
Brooklyn, here we come? (Even though the arena's seating for hockey and location away from the fan base would make turning a profit rather difficult?)
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