Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Stephen Lorenzo of the New York Daily News,
The Islanders entered training camp in 2013 with some optimism after reaching the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. But after a season in the basement of the Metropolitan Division in 2013-14, the Islanders arrived at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday to open training camp with a bit more fire and a sense of urgency.
“We all want better,” defenseman Travis Hamonic said. “I’m tired of going home and watching the playoffs on TV, man. I’m just real sick of it. I think everybody in this organization, and I think we want to be back in the playoffs and pushing for a championship and it’s something that I honestly think we can do. I’ve believed it for a numerous amount of years and that’s part of the reason I signed my contract (a seven-year deal signed last season) for as long as I did. I think we can we win with this group.”
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Not only was it the first extended layoff he’d experienced during a five-year pro career, but it’s also the longest he’s ever gone between games since taking up the sport. Seven months is an agonizing absence for a rink rat. And with NHL training camps set to open this week, there might not be another player in the league more excited to get back to work than Tavares.
“Oh I’m ready,” he said.
There is certainly reason for optimism on Long Island, where the acquisition of goalies Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson should make an instant impact on a team that was dead last in save percentage last season. Adding forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin will provide some much-needed depth up front.
This could also be the year that Tavares challenges for the NHL’s scoring title.
A lot of signs have him trending in that direction. He is already among the league’s elite offensive players after producing the fifth-best points per game average over the last three seasons — trailing only Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux. Tavares is the youngest member of that group and should just be entering his offensive prime with his 24th birthday coming on Saturday.
from Josh Kosman of the New York Post,
Minnesota Wild co-owner Phil Falcone might quit his hockey-crazed home state to make a play for the New York Islanders, The Post has learned.
The beleaguered hedge fund mogul and former Harvard hockey player has been mulling selling his minority ownership in the Wild with the goal of becoming an eventual owner of the Islanders, sources said.
If that happens, Falcone would invest in the Islanders alongside friend and fellow Harvard alum Jon Ledecky, who last month led an investor group that purchased a “substantial” minority stake in the NHL franchise, sources said.
“[Falcone] is thinking about it,” said a source familiar with the situation.
from Brett Crygalis of the New York Post,
“I think obviously goaltending was a big thing,” Tavares told The Post on Tuesday at an NHL event at a Newark High School, his team having signed starter Jaroslav Halak to a four-year, $18 million deal, and added established backup Chad Johnson on a two-year, $2.6 million deal.
“To have those two guys set and to know that our goaltending situation is settled there,” Tavares said, “it’s really the first time it’s been like that since I’ve been here.”
If that wasn’t enough to make Tavares happy, general manager Garth Snow also added some talent up front to skate alongside him, inking the former dynamic duo from the Maple Leafs in Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, both to four-year deals worth a combined $36.75 million.
“They obviously played really well together,” Tavares said, noting that in the 2010-11 season, while playing on the same line in Toronto, they scored 29 and 30 goals, respectively. “They know each other well, and they have good chemistry.”
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Tonelli, who won four Stanley Cup championships with the Islanders, thinks the addition of Jaroslav Halak and backup netminder Chad Johnson could be huge for the Isles this season as they try to make it back to the playoffs after a disappointing 26th place finish last year.
“I think they made a great move getting some goaltending help. It’s tough for one guy to carry the load and it always helps when you bring in another guy,” said Tonelli, who played in front of the legendary Billy Smith during the Isles’ dynasty days. “Goaltending seems to be the key ... it starts from there, taking care of your own end.”
And dynamic young center John Tavares gives the Islanders an electrifying element.
“He’s just such a pleasure to watch,” Tonelli said. “You know, he’s exciting to watch and he wants to lead by example. He wants to be there. He wants to see the Islanders become a great team. As a former player for the Islanders organization, that’s what it’s all about. We all want it to be there. We all wanted to be part of a great team. I see that in [Tavares].”
from Mark Herrmann of Newsday,
The popular response yesterday was somewhere between "Yippeeee!" and "Here we go again." Islanders fans were ecstatic to hear that finally there was hope because the team will change hands. They are also realistic enough to know they felt exactly the same way when Charles Wang bought the team 14 years ago.
On these very pages back then, one fan was quoted as saying, "What does this mean? Hope." Another said, "Things can only get better."
We all should be wary, but for the life of us, people here can't help feeling that way again. Yes, yes, we remember the "Gang of Four" and "the Millstones" and the incomparable John Spano. Wang was supposed to make us forget all of them. Sometimes, he made us wish we had them back.
Fact is, it just has not worked out. It has not worked out for Wang, what with reported losses of $20 million a year. And it sure has not worked out for the team, with its embarrassing streak of not having won a playoff series since 1993. They have flirted with the worst fate a pro team can have: appearing irrelevant in its own market.
Things can only get better. For once, they just might.
The one huge reason is that this time, the buyers know they are getting only a hockey team and not a real estate bonanza.
UNIONDALE, NY (August 19, 2014) – The New York Islanders announced today that a group led by former Washington Capitals co-owner Jon Ledecky and London based investor Scott Malkin has reached a definitive agreement, subject to NHL approval, to purchase a substantial minority interest in the team. Under the terms of the agreement, Charles Wang will continue as majority shareholder and Governor of the Islanders, with the Ledecky/Malkin group transitioning to majority owner in two years.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL,” Mr. Ledecky said.
“I’m thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders’ final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” Mr. Wang said. “I look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
There will be no further comment until the NHL completes its franchise ownership transfer process.
added 1:49pm, from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
Charles Wang has agreed to sell a minority stake in the Islanders to Jonathan Ledecky, a former co-owner of the Capitals, and investor Scott Malkin, according to a high-ranking NHL source. Ledecky and Malkin will assume majority control of the team in two years.
from Dave McCarthy of TSN,
After a solid debut season in the Ontario Hockey League as a 16-year-old with the Windsor Spitfires, finishing fourth on the team with 44 points, Ho-Sang followed it up this past year by leading his team in points (85) and assists (53) while tying for the lead in goals (32). But despite a quick and productive start to his OHL career, Ho-Sang was overlooked for Team Canada's Under 18 team in the spring, was not included on the 2013 U18 team to play at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and was not invited to Team Canada's World Junior summer development camp roster this year.
He asks, why?
"The fact that I haven't been invited to a camp, it's insulting," Ho-Sang said frankly. "I've done nothing to them (Hockey Canada). It's not like they invited me to U17 and U18 and I messed up at all that stuff. I haven't been invited back since my first year in the OHL in December. It's been a year and a half; I haven't been a part of any Hockey Canada stuff."
But he has a philosophy as to why invites have not been coming his way.
"They can't invite me to that stuff because they're afraid," he said. "If I go there and do well, then they have no reason not to put me on the World Junior team." Asked directly why Hockey Canada wouldn't want him on that team, Ho-Sang, looking puzzled, responded, "I don't know."
from Richard Sandomir of the New York Times,
Wang knew little about hockey and made some bizarre decisions, including elevating Garth Snow, a backup goaltender, to general manager, according to Mike Milbury, a former general manager, and wanting to get rid of the team’s scouts. Milbury recalled two years ago that Wang had wanted to try out sumo wrestlers in the crease.
Wang inherited a losing team, and experienced some improvement, but he still has a losing team.
That Wang still owns the team is surprising. He banked on the Islanders’ being in a new or refurbished arena long ago, but no matter what the plan, it never worked out.
He did not move the team to possible getaway cities like Kansas City, Mo.; Quebec City; Hamilton, Ontario; or Seattle. Maybe he should have picked one and made some of his money back.
In 2003, he let me read documents that pegged the team’s losses in his first three years of ownership at $52.2 million. “It’s uncomfortable to lose money having worked so hard to make it,” Wang said at the time. “I’m investing, in one sense. The team has to be self-sustaining. This is not a church that will stay open forever.”
But it has. By 2009, Wang told Newsday that his losses had climbed to $209 million. The total is probably close to $300 million by now.
Patience has only brought Wang fiscal grief. It’s time for a new owner to try to lose less money.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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