The press conference was short and was missing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was busy attending to the league's role in the much more pressing and tragic situation in Ottawa.
But in a little over 15 minutes, new Islanders minority owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin showed enthusiasm, patience and confidence in their latest investment. The very soft-spoken Malkin and the constantly smiling Ledecky repeated a few talking points, including their working relationship to Charles Wang and the nature of their gradual transition to majority owners.
From NHL.com's write-up:
"It's Charles' vision. It's Charles' team," Malkin said when asked about the extended transition. "What I've realized even in the few short weeks that we've been owners is how much we still need to learn. What I admire greatly about Charles' approach is that he's focused on what's best for the team, the future of the team; a smooth transition and a partnership lend themselves to that.
"I'm learning every day from Charles, and I see how valuable this kind of transition is."
Wang says the pair wanted him to stay on to show them the ropes of being an NHL owner. At the same time, Wang, who has owned the team for a franchise-long 14 years, wanted to complete his mission, one that used to be centered around a new Nassau Coliseum that never happened. From New$day's Jim Baumbach:
Their willingness to wait two years before taking over the Islanders gives Wang an exit strategy he was comfortable with, considering he felt he still had unfinished business running this team.
"I wanted to end the lease in Nassau County because that was my commitment to people here and I wanted to start the first year in Brooklyn," he said. "I wanted to do that."
Describing the process of trying to get a new arena as "a little bit of hell," Wang said he still harbors some negative feelings about what could have been here in Nassau.
"I'm angry because they could have done something for Nassau County," he said. "That's unbelievable. We all know it. But it wasn't done. And you can't keep looking in the back-view mirror. Life is such [that you] look in the front-view mirror and move on."
TEAM OF THE PEOPLE
Ledecky, known as a philanthropist, was very focused on the team's place in the community and was vocal about eliciting input from fans by embarking on what he called a "two-year listening tour." From the Islanders official site:
"I feel very strongly that a team is a community trust. Scott and I will be - along with Charles - stewards of that trust for many years to come," Ledecky said.
"We are going to be on a listening tour for two years, listening to the fans, listening to what we can do to enhance the experience for hockey fans as we move to Brooklyn," he added. "I don't want to lose one single fan of the New York Islanders. I want them to come and migrate with us if at all possible, and we need to be doing things that are effective to make that a reality.
]"For me, it's all about community service," [Ledecky] said. "I think that a team is the fabric of a community, and you can do things through a sports team that are difficult to do otherwise. There's so much that a team can do to forward a community's agenda. It's a place where fans of all different economic strata can get together and come together in a community.
"For me, it's an opportunity to do good, do well and put a winning team on the ice."
The move to Brooklyn was the hot topic, as it's been all season so far, and Ledecky said the plan is to make the trip to Barclays Center a smooth one that Long Island-based fans will want to make. From Mark Herrmann in New$day:
"I think the fans will follow us if we follow them," he said. "That's the most important thing. We have to make sure that behind the scenes, we're working with all the different authorities to make it a breeze to come from this part of Long Island to Brooklyn. If we do that, then the fans follow with us. I think we need to be doing things that are effective to make that a reality."
[Ledecky] added that fans have been sharing their feelings, ranging from "I remember my dad buying me a Klondike bar to I caught a puck during practice when I was 10 years old."
Yet all he chose to say about the team's future connection with its 43-year home was to offer this advice to fans: "Bring your kids to Nassau Coliseum one last time, or many times, as we try to put a competitive team on the ice. Have that memory."
For two guys with enough money to buy a hockey team, both men came off as being down-to-Earth and stable, but progressive and aware of what lies ahead of them. The fancystats community got a special shout-out from Ledecky, who talked about what's different between the time he was a co-owner of the Capitals in the early part of the century and today. From Islanders official, again:
"As I've told Scott, so much has changed in the 15 years since I last was in the NHL," Ledecky, a former part-owner of the Washington Capitals, said. "It is a process for us to learn once again. So many things have happened in the league both player-wise, player conditioning, statistical analysis, things that weren't prevalent in 1999 when I first came into the league. I think we do have a lot to learn. This process of being a minority owner first really gives us a chance to get that transition underway and to hit the ground running when we're fortunate enough to become the majority owners."
More than anything, Ledecky and Malkin sound like they know the team they're buying and what their fans (a.k.a their new paying customers) want to hear. Yes, this is a business deal. But they already know it is always about showmanship. From the New York Post:
The franchise is not one without a storied history, having won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83. So the new ownership wanted their goal to be made clear to the fan base.
"A fifth ring," Ledecky said, and the press conference ended.
Full video of the press conference.
And their media session following the formal Q&A: