It’s not often that Hockey Night in Canada involves (or even mentions) the Islanders. But on tonight’s installment of the show’s Headlines intermission roundtable, reporter Elliotte Friedman and color analyst Kelly Hrudey discussed Arthur Staple’s recent report of the team’s owners’ search for a new executive.
Their focus was less about the position itself and more about Ledecky reaching out to NHL types looking for opinions, advice and information that he can use to help his team. Friedman mentioned agent Pat Brisson and Brad Richards, but not Pat LaFontaine, who Staple also had Ledecky talking to.
You can watch the full video here, but Sportsnet doesn’t want us to embed it for some reason.
And if you don’t feel like watching it, here’s a transcript. Warning: repeated use of the phrase “Make [something] great again” is ahead.
Friedman: What Jonathan Ledecky, the new owner of the Islanders is doing, is meeting with a ton of people to get ideas on what he should do with his franchise. Jonathan Ledecky is very close with Wayne Gretzky, they have a good friendship. Wayne Gretzky’s not going to the Islanders, but they have met, for example, to get Gretzky’s opinion. Luc Robitaille, who’s very tight with Pat Brisson and who works for the Kings, they have talked about it, although I don’t think Robitaille is interested in leaving L.A.
Also, guys like Pat Flatley and the alumni, Kelly, I think he is just trying to gain any possible opinion he can on what he should do with the team longterm.
Hrudey: Elliotte, why I think it’s important that he went to Luc, is that Luc has done that with the Kings alumni. He’s make this franchise great again, the Kings. Dean Lombardi has done his work for the ice product, but Luc has done a wonderful job behind the scenes. So when you go to that, it makes sense to me. The other thing is, just as a former Islander, I’ve received three emails from Ledecky personally about making this franchise great. All of us have. He wants input, he wants us at the games. I think that’s a wonderful first step in making that organization great again.
As intriguing as Staple’s original report was, I found this info pretty encouraging about Ledecky’s plans. He (and I’m assuming Scott Malkin, who every journalist other than Staple seems to forget about), wants to know what people think about the Islanders and what they need to do to get back on track. So it sounds like he’s trying to put together a kind of loose focus group of insiders to gauge their opinions.
I’ve love to be a fly on the wall for some of these meetings (can’t imagine how many times Ledecky has heard, “Move them back to Nassau” before replying, “uh..., that’s complicated”), but it sounds like a pretty smart idea. The drawback is, if you’re looking for a quick fix, this might not be one.
A lot of this echos what Ledecky said last summer about being a steward of the franchise. He spoke about wanting to draw more alumni back, making Barclays Center feel more like home, and creating a, “world class organization.” That process apparently starts with asking the hockey world what it thinks makes an organization world class.
What nobody counted on (aside from the many, many internet commenters who tell us all day every day how they knew all along) was the team starting so poorly this season. That certainly changed the conversation and put pressure on everyone to DO SOMETHING. Although it doesn’t help the Islanders on the ice as of now, it’s clear Ledecky is working behind the scenes to improve his club in the future.
The next question is, did Kelly Hrudey return Ledecky’s emails? He never says. And, if he did, did he do so wearing that sweet headband he used to as a player?