Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

09/24/2009

Thanks For Playing: New York Islanders

Filed under: Charles Wang,John Tavares,New York Islanders — Joe Yerdon @ 2:46 AM

Last season I did a twist on the customary season preview kind of story.  Instead of painting everything with the forever awesome hopeful brush, I came busting through like the Grim Reaper (no, not Stu Grimson) and tapped five teams before the start of the regular season to tell them that their season was over before it started.

I tried on the black robe once again and it fits great and the sickle is just as menacing as ever and it’s time to go a-reaping.  My goal this year was to pick on five teams that I didn’t touch on last year, barring the possibility of those teams being so piss-poor that it was thoroughly unavoidable.  My five choices last year were the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers.  My only slip up came with the Blues as they powered through last season to find a spot in the Western Conference Playoffs and giving me the finger the whole way.  Thanks guys.

This year after breaking down the teams I was faced with the inevitable task of having to pick on one team because they qualify under my own rule:  The Islanders.

Now as much as I’d like to be a mean-spirited prick, I find the Islanders to be in such rough shape that it’s evtavaresen beyond me to be mean.  I know, feel free to call me names – it’s fair enough, but getting to meet a lot of Islanders fans in Montreal this summer showed me that you guys are tremendously faithful and very eager for the future and for that I don’t blame you.

A trend that you’ll find amongst the walking dead teams in these previews (MAJOR HINT FOR WHAT’S TO COME) is that most of these teams have a bevy of issues going on off the ice that do nothing to help alleviate the fans’ worries about what’s going on with the team actually playing on the ice.  In this case, it’s Charles Wang taking on the Town of Hempstead in trying to build the Lighthouse Project.

The team itself are doing some of the small things to make things better for the future.  In the offseason, the Isles drafted potential franchise savior centerman John Tavares first overall and followed that selection with defenseman Calvin de Haan, an eventual power play quarterback on Long Island.  While Tavares will undoubtedly begin playing for the Islanders this season, de Haan’s near future likely lies back in Canadian Juniors and while he gets to learn there, Tavares will only have the burden of being the main attraction on an otherwise hapless team.

There are nice pieces on the Island.  Defenseman Mark Streit is a true power play quarterback in his own right and as the featured defenseman with the Isles, he’s lifted his game with it.  Forward Kyle Okposo too is a stud but, much how things go with the Islanders these days, he’s hit a bump in the road courtesy of Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

Okposo was likely set to eventually be Tavares’ right wing at some point this season but with a concussion, you can never be too sure when, exactly, you’ll be OK to play.  Looking at the Islanders potential depth chart, the enigmatic Trent Hunter looms as the potential top wing along with Blake Comeau.  Those of you unfamiliar with the Islanders are likely asking, “Who?” and now it’s hitting you as to why the Isles are being featured first and foremost this season.

Another forward who might sound familiar is Doug Weight who had his own unreasonable run-in last year at center ice with Hurricanes forward Brent Sutter, difference being that Weight was on the delivery end of the hit.  Sure, a couple of other names might ring a bell or two (Jeff Tambellini, Sean Bergenheim, Richard Park) but as far as being a big scoring team… Well, the Islanders are just not going to be that.

Defensively, Mark Streit is the do-it-all deity on the blue line and hey, why not, he’s Swiss and that’s pretty fun – isn’t it Roger Federer?  Brendan Witt is the other name you’ll recognize here and he’s also there to be the team peacekeeper.  Outside of that you’ve got the oft-injured Radek Martinek and Bruno Gervais as well as the oft-injured Andy Sutton.  Come to think of it… Those are three guys that are usually banged up.  Thankfully for the Isles and general manager Garth Snow they managed to address one sort of weakness in goaltending.

Goaltending was a major problem for the Isles last season given that superstar Rick DiPietro again found himself shelved with nagging injuries.  In his stead, the team ran with superstars like Yann Danis, Joey McDonald and Peter Mannino in goal.  Goaltending depth shouldn’t be a problem this season as both Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson were brought on board to help steady this ship while DiPietro, again, rehabs from a knee injury.

At the very least the Isles won’t get caught with their pants down in goal but in tcharles-wang_392his case, it’s merely rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic after it’s already at the bottom of the ocean.  Yeah, that’s a bleak outlook but being part of a perpetual rebuilding project often has huge roadblocks, the least of which is an Eeyore-like black cloud looming over the franchise about whether or not their future lies in Long Island or some other place.

All of that stuff will just provide little to no respite for Isles fans who will get to soak in the future stardom and celebrity of John Tavares while watching their team struggle for offense (unless Tavares goes 1980s Gretzky on us) and hopefully avoid the injury bug that’s bitten this franchise for three years running.

Realistically, this team will be one of the five worst in the league which, considering their building blocks with Okposo and Tavares, might not put them in a bad spot for the future.  For now, however, they’ll struggle terribly and being stuck in a division with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins as well as the built-to-kill Philadelphia Flyers.

Enjoy Tavares Islanders faithful and don’t worry about if you get caught daydreaming about the future, you won’t be at fault for doing so.

05/21/2009

Charles Wang Wants To Flex His Nuts

Filed under: Charles Wang,Kate Murray,New York Islanders,Relocation Radar — Joe Yerdon @ 6:03 PM

Everyone’s pretty well consumed with what’s going on with the Coyotes but there’s another team to get on the radar, a team whose owner has already warned the locals about his plans to get out of town (well, he’d take a look around at least) should they not work with him to improve their facilities.

Get your relocation radars prematurely locked in on the New York Islanders.

We know that Charles Wang is a loose cannon and that his trust in people is sometimes bizarre and greatly unwarranted, take a look at Rick DiPietro’s contract and Mike Milbury’s tenure on the Island for examples.

Give Wang credit where credit is due, however. He’s been battling the Town of Hempstead and more pointedly the town supervisor Kate Murray. Two of the NHL Blogosphere’s biggest Charles Wang backers are B.D. Gallof at Islanders Independent and Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank.


Strange things are afoot at the Lighthouse.

Chris Botta offers the perspective of a guy who has worked for the Islanders as a PR man for Charles Wang’s operation. Botta’s name came up in the news today after it was announced the Islanders were mysteriously letting go of Corey Witt, the PR man that replaced Botta. As is mentioned over at Islanders Independent, it’s curious that Wang’s operation would do this as both Botta and Witt are perfect PR people for the organization since they’re local homegrown guys that genuinely love the Islanders.

The thought presented at II is that strange things are afoot in Long Island and none of them mean good things if you like the team where it’s currently located.

Sue me for jumping to conclusions, but this organizational change is just another indication of why I am just about convinced that the Isles will not be in NY (much less LI) very much longer. I won’t list my “indicators” here, but I have been pointing them out on Logan’s blog for about 3 months now. (No anticipated free agent signings, failure to secure or even make an honest attempt at Mr. Hobey Baker, etc etc) Greg describes Corey Witt as a lifelong, born and raised, love LI til he dies, Islander supporter. Not much different than what Chris Botta brought to the Wang Organization. Botta is gone…and now so is Witt…..Another “home grown, ties to the community, press and media relations” guy. Someone that Wang WOULD NOT want involved in certain details about the long term plans of the organization……if those plans were dark.

Now that’s the kind of tinfoil hat talk I like. No, seriously, I dig it a lot.

Aside from drumming up more of your own bad public relations, what’s the point of letting go of people with strong local ties to the Islanders and have been life-long fans? You know, the kind of person you’re ideally looking for to fill that position.


Strap it on, we’re going deep.

OK so Charles Wang made sure to say that if the Town of Hempstead doesn’t get something done to allow him to build his impressive and paid-for-with-his-own-money Lighthouse Project that he would begin to look for other options on where to go and whether or not he should sell the team.

And this, to me, shows that in this era when sports teams are busy yelling at locales to build them a new arena to sell luxury boxes in and getting the cities to pay for them it’s stunning to me that Charles Wang, a guy people don’t realize is solely responsible for the Islanders remaining on Long Island, is willing to plunk down his own money to build this sprawling and, honestly, incredible project in Hempstead.

Yet the town wants nothing to do with Wang’s money or development seemingly citing the lack of support the Islanders get as their reasoning for not allowing an eccentric millionaire to build what he feels the team needs to survive and help draw crowds to see the Islanders once again.


Dear Hempstead: LET ME SPEND MY FUCKING MONEY ON YOU!

This is where I question Kate Murray and her seeming vendetta against the Islanders because what are people coming to Hempstead, New York for in the first place? If you were to believe Hempstead’s website for tourism, the Islanders are one of the main attractions.

Well then what the fuck gives?

Charles Wang isn’t a totally crazy guy and he can tell when he’s not wanted and with the Town of Hempstead continues to dick around with him, as is detailed at Islanders Point Blank:

And so it goes with the Town of Hempstead and the Lighthouse Project, the development of Tom Suozzi’s HUB that Nassau County has tried for decades to get off the ground. So it goes for the revitalization of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as set forth by a Request For Proposals by Nassau County and approved by a 16-2 margain.

Wang, who is said to be completely satisfied by the stewardship of the proposal by Suozzi and the County, has set a October 3 deadline for Town approvals for obvious reasons. The Islanders lease expires in 2015. A “transformed” Coliseum would take four off-seasons to complete. The math is simple. Wang has to decide if he’s finally done losing at least $20 million a year with no development deal in sight.

So, there’s a method to all the madness here for Charles Wang – who’dve thunk it? So much for being an eccentric millionaire if you’re not going to just haphazardly make deadlines and want to spend loads of money on something a town doesn’t even want to bother with.

So what if there’s nothing in place by Wang’s October deadline to get things started?

Just like Islander Independent said: Start lining up ownership prospects and new locations.

Sure, if Balsillie’s attempt to land the Coyotes fails (and there’s virtually no doubt in my mind that it will) he’ll make a move on the Islanders and for that, all I ask is a seat in the board room at that meeting between Balsillie and Wang.

Imagine that pow-wow. Amazing.

Outside of that, perhaps Bruce Ratner gives Charles Wang a call since the roadblocks in his development of his Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn appear to be falling and construction may begin soon. Why not add another tenant to join the Nets in what would be a huge piece to revitalize Brooklyn?

Then again, maybe Wang will be thoroughly tired of dealing with being unappreciated and asinine politics in New York and just look for the first readily available green pasture that wants to have a hockey team.

I don’t know, maybe that pre-season audition they’ll get against the Los Angeles Kings in Kansas City is a nice way for the folks at AEG to shmooze it up with Wang to show him everything the Sprint Center can offer the Islanders.

I know this was all theorized before when the game was scheduled (as is proven by that TSN link) but with Hempstead’s seeming disdain for anything and everything Charles Wang tries to do perhaps he’s left with no recourse but to aggressively start looking for a new place to call home.

It’s easy to be critical of Charles Wang, he brings it upon himself quite easily by playing outside the norm and operating his team like a maniac but in his dealings with Hempstead in trying to revitalize the Nassau County Coliseum and develop the area around it and turning it into a place people will want to go to…

Well, perhaps Charles Wang is just the alchemist the Islanders need.

06/15/2008

Alexei Yashin & Charles Wang – BFF 4EVR

Filed under: Alexei Yashin,Charles Wang,New York Islanders — Joe Yerdon @ 6:28 PM

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

Alexei Yashin is drawing interest from the New York Islanders.

OK so you’ve stopped me, fine. Be that way.

But this story is actually new. So now you’re curious, the way someone is curious when driving past a fiery wreck or when you see someone trip and fall.

Initially, you feel concerned but deep-down you want to laugh.

Out loud.

And point.

It’s time to just not be concerned here folks, the time for concern is over. This is point-and-laugh out loud time.

Yashin’s agent, Marc Gandler told Newday he spoke with Islanders’ general
manager Garth Snow on Thursday but no agreement was reached.

“We’ve had discussions,” Gandler told Newsday. “But it’s been very slow
because I told them in the beginning how much I wanted. They’re obviously not
happy about that. But clearly, they missed him. They didn’t have a first line
last season.”

Oh, the beauty of being an agent – you get to mangle with the truth!

In case you’ve forgotten, Alexei Yashin is a former Hart Trophy winner with the Ottawa Senators and he’s the father of the obscene Islanders contract. You know, before Rick DiPietro signed for 15 years, Yashin signed on with Wang’s Islanders for 10 years and $87.5 million dollars.

It could be argued pretty easily that Yashin’s contract (along with Bobby Holik’s Rangers contract of 5 years $45 million) are Exhibit’s A and B as to why the NHL Owners needed to be saved from themselves and help ruin the final shreds of relevancy – but then Charles Wang went and gave Ricky D a 15-year deal after the lockout. Go figure, idiocy continues unchecked!

What’s incredible is that Yashin is taking the season he had with Yaroslavl, a Russian professional team, and using that to try and convince the Islanders that his scoring touch, in a league that’s a little bit lacking compared to the NHL is good enough mind you, is back.

Amazing!

The fun doesn’t end there from Yashin’s agent – a true spin doctor if I’ve ever seen one.

“If we can’t get anything soon, we’re going to take the offer with
Yaroslavl,” Gandler told Newsday. “I think they’re interested, but I’m not sure
they’re comfortable with the amount.”

That’s right Islanders, you’re on the clock until July 1st to decide if you want to bring back the face of failure to the franchise. The best part of all of this is Gandler’s insistence that the only thing keeping the two sides apart is MONEY.

Really? You mean to tell me that the Islanders are gunshy about giving up a ton of money to a guy that was, for all intents and purposes, a colossal failure on the Island. Being an agent must be the most ridiculous and fun job on earth for all the nonsense you get to come up with and potentially get away with.

The saddest part of all this is that the Islanders could use a guy with some scoring touch. The Isles were brutally inoffensive last season. Mr. Hillary Duff, Mike Comrie, was the team’s leading scorer with 49 points and Bill Guerin was the leading goal scorer with 23. Ouch. The unrestricted free agency options for scoring are mostly lacking and going the restricted route is most dangerous and unexpected.

Is an older Yashin the answer for the Isles? No, but if the options are slim, and chances are no one is going bonkers trying to play for the Islanders, the Isles and GM Garth Snow might want to take a flier on Yashin just because.

To think that Yashin is going to want a ton of money from them is laughable, especially considering Yashin is still on the Islanders books from being bought out before the start of last season.

He’s on the books until the 2012-2013 season! Unreal.

Believe me, Alexei Yashin is a bad guy to have on a team. He’s selfish, doesn’t much care for the success of the team and looks to fill out his own scoresheet above everything else – and I was a big fan of Yashin’s while he was in Ottawa. That said, I can’t help but feel we’ll see #79 on the ice again for the Isles, mainly because they’ll have no other options left to fill out their ranks with talent.

Let’s just hope Charles Wang is smart enough to not give him more than a two-year contract.

Powered by WordPress