New York Islanders owner Charles Wang is in talks to sell a majority stake in the team, according to the real Bob McKenzie (not the many imposter versions that pop up on the web each trade deadline season):
NYI owner Charles Wang in talks to sell majority stake in NHL franchise. Nothing done yet, no telling if it gets done, but talks underway.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 28, 2014
Bombshell news, with all the obligatory caveats that nothing could be done, all in under 140 characters.
This has always been the unknown variable in Wang's nearly 15 years owning the club as the last of a long and checkered line of owners who tried to find a replacement for Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Wang is the owner who held on the longest, and held on the last. With the lease expiring in 2015 and the politicians of Nassau not agreeing on anything, Wang signed an agreement in 2012 to move the club to Brooklyn in 2015.
The next question, then, was how long the Long Islander would hang on to the team after the move. Further, would the budget and expenditures match a rising salary cap (and floor) once the team moved to a potentially more lucrative situation, even if in a shared building?
There's also the much-speculated financial situation, which TSN (McKenzie's employer) notes in its brief on this story:
The franchise loses an estimated $10 million per season and it has been reported that Wang and the Islanders face a $75 million loan repayment at the end of this season.
Future leasemate Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, is always a logical connection when this comes up, though publicly he's always been said to have no interest in owning the hockey team. Still, until people here another name, Prokhorov will long be a suggestion if for logic alone, as it was back in 2012:
"Charles got offers to move the team out of our state, very good offers," Ratner said today. "Charles wouldn’t do that. Charles Wang is the real hero today. He has kept this team in New York State."
The move might be a precursor to a change in team ownership, according to former Madison Square Garden President Bob Gutkowski. It makes the most sense for Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov to buy the hockey team known for its four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83, he said in a telephone interview.
"The best deal is for the owners of the Nets and Barclays to buy the Islanders," Gutkowski, a partner in Lake Success, New York-based Innovative Sports & Entertainment, which advises private equity in sports, entertainment and media company investment. "And if they can’t do that, they need to work out some kind of equity deal."
For now, it's just a tweet, albeit from a very respected hockey insider. Meanwhile, 2015 and Brooklyn approaches ever closer.
Many long-suffering fans have long wanted a sale, a new owner, anyone to invest more in the team than Wang, who increased payroll when he first bought the team but has operated a cap floor team in the salary cap era. Of course, as those who have been around sports long enough know, the next owner often becomes the next villain.
With #isles luck, next owner will be either LexCorp, OsCorp, Roxxon Oil, Cobra or SPECTRE.— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) March 28, 2014
But we'll deal with that when it comes. If it comes.