Monday, 1 October 2012

La-la-la-Long Island Owner?

The above image is one that could become very real if the reports out of the New York Post are true. According to the report, European investors have asked Pat LaFontaine to be involved in a bid for the New York Islanders in order to keep the team on Long Island for the foreseeable future. The former Islanders star would be a welcome sight for Islander fans who have suffered through the leanest of years under Charles Wang's regime.

Wang is reportedly seeking a sale price for the Islanders around $300 million - a price tag that is far beyond the $149 million at which Forbes valued the franchise. Honestly, $300 million is a little steep when you consider that the Thrashers weren't sold for that much and the asking price for the Coyotes was much, much lower. I'm not sure how Charles Wang arrived at the number, but we'll run with it for this article.

After LaFontaine stepped down from his unpaid position with the Islanders in 2006 after Wang fired then-GM Neil Smith, the relationship between the Islanders and LaFontaine has been frosty. LaFontaine has yet to be voted into the Islanders' hall of fame, something that's hard to believe considering all he did for the franchise early in his career. This is something that most Islander fans would like corrected sooner rather than later considering how important he was to this once-proud franchise.

By having LaFontaine step in as an owner, he could immediately have one of his European partners induct him into the hall of fame, thereby fixing a major indiscretion under Charles Wang. He also would immediately become the face of the franchise again, following the same path that Mario Lemieux embarked on a few years ago. LaFontaine surely doesn't need the hassle of running a team, but I think he is astute enough to do the job and do it well.

The Islanders would still face the same problem that they do today, though: no new arena in sight. The Nassau Coliseum is, for lack of a better word, decrepit. The city of Hempstead has already voted "no" to a publicly-funded arena with Charles Wang at the helm of the Isles, but would that sentiment change under a LaFontaine-guided franchise?

It's an interesting proposition to see LaFontaine as an owner. If he follows Lemieux's lead, he just needs to hire some good hockey people to run the team day-to-day while he works the long-term goals of the club into a plan. If, however, he turns out to be a minority owner like Wayne Gretzky, I can't see LaFontaine being happy waving to the crowd at promotional appearances. He can do that already for a much smaller monetary investment.

Only time will tell if LaFontaine and the European investors are serious about buying the Islanders, but the fact that the Islanders are making positive waves with their fans this early in the season is a good sign that LaFontaine will be cheered as an Islander once again.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Dr. Pete said...

LaFontaine as Islanders owner sounds like a good idea. Granted, he's better known as a Sabre, but since he's played for all three New York teams, I could see him trying to get some of the on-the-fence fans in New York state to become Islanders fans if he markets correctly.