Two bits of New York Islanders news today, both of which obviously have a great bit in common with each other.
First is Islanders owner Charles Wang's interview with Howie Rose on MSG Network in which he explains the stakes at hand in approval or disapproval of The Lighthouse Project, the massive mixed-use project (hotel, convention space, retail, apartments) that includes a major renovation of Nassau Coliseum.
Wang continues the tough talk on the project, telling Rose that "we must have certainty on this project, whether we go or we don't go, by the beginning of next hockey season."
That tough talk, combined with the team's exhibition in their arena, has the Kansas City hockey crowd and media salivating. The Kansas City Star writes that Wang will "move or sell" the franchise if the project fails. From the Star:
The Islanders' lease at antiquated Nassau Coliseum, the third-oldest - and smallest - arena in the NHL, expires in 2015. But Wang last week said that an agreement he made with the county in 2007 to renovate the arena and develop the area around it includes language that gives the team an out.
Wang has received offers from politicians in Queens and Brooklyn to facilitate a move to those boroughs, and the Islanders are scheduled to play preseason games next September in Kansas City's Sprint Center and in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where they will be spending part of their training camp.
Wang, in an interview with Newsday last week, said: "If we don't build this, shame on us. This is something that has to be done. If we can't, you tell me no. It's OK. I mean, really, we'll go where we're loved."
Watch Wang's interview with MSG right here. We're sure his quips about Kansas City BBQ went over well with Islander fans deciding whether or not to re-up their season tickets.
From Shannon Shark of Examiner.com. Remember that "Examiners are credible, passionate, knowledgeable writers." It says so right on the Web site:
I don't know if Wang is familiar with the state of the economy or the tax burdens Long Islanders have been faced with the past few years. It's kind of hard to ask anyone to support a new building. Folks in these parts are still annoyed with the Mets and their friends at the bank, and the Yankees and their tax breaks.
I understand losing $20 million sucks. I can't blame Wang.
Maybe the Kansas City Islanders will find happiness. Maybe they'll find the same happiness the KC Scouts did.
Oh you don't know about the Scouts? They moved to Denver for six years and then moved again and now call themselves the New Jersey Devils, and from KC to Denver to the NYC area nobody cares.
Well that a nice glass half-full assessment if there ever was one.
Wang is playing some serious hardball with the county's powerbrokers. He's made noises about deadlines in the summer, and now at the beginning of the season. Newsday reports that "someone in the know" doesn't expect movement on this issue until after Election Day, which would really make things interesting on Wang's end.
All of this is happening in a plummeting economy and in an NHL where the economic fortunes change based on which way U.S. and Canadian currency are headed every hour. Kansas City remains in play because it's an NHL-ready arena with powerful AEG as a backer.
But we believe Bettman when he says that location and expansion at this point aren't high on the NHL's to-do list. At least for now.
The Islanders are yet another NHL franchise where the fans will flock back for a winner. No one wants to see any NHL franchise "die"; it would especially hurt to see one move just as it's young players come of age ... including, one assumes, some dude named John Tavares.