It’s over. Sound the bells and let the villagers know it’s safe to come out: the witch is finally dead.
Okay, calling him a witch might be a little on the strong side, but Charles Wang hasn’t exactly been the most endearing person in the world since taking over as owner of the New York Islanders way back in 2000.
The embattled owner has finally sold the team. Former Washington Capitals co-owner Jonathan Ledecky and investor Scott Malkin have agreed to purchase the team from Wang. Financials have yet to be released and the sale is still pending approval from the NHL’s Board of Governors.
Ledecky is a co-founder of Lincoln Holdings with current Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and sold his stake in 2001. Malkin is the founder and chairman of the UK-based Value Retail. The duo will take on minority shares for two seasons before assuming full control of the team in 2016.
From the Islanders:
“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.”
Wang had made quite the mark on Nassau County and the Islanders. For nearly a decade, he had been embattled in a dispute over the conditions of the Nassau Coliseum and had lobbied for a new state-of-the-art arena to be built, only to be rebuffed by the county.
On top of that, he had signed two of the most embarrassing contracts in NHL history, inking Russian center Alexei Yashin to a 10-year, $87 million deal and goalie Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5 million deal. Neither came anywhere close to living up to their ridiculous contracts and both were eventually bought out. Yashin’s buyout ends after this season and DiPietro will continued to be paid to sit on his couch for about the next decade.
His latest headline-making actions involved being sued by hedge-fund manager Andrew Barroway. Barroway had been negotiating with Wang in regards to buying the team when negotiations suddenly ended. Barroway then filed a $10 million lawsuit claiming the Islanders owner backed out of a handshake agreement to sell the team.
Fortunately for Ledecky and Malkin, they are getting a franchise with a bright future. The team will leave the Nassau Coliseum for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning with the 2015-16 season. They’re also getting a team on the rise on the ice. John Tavares is already an elite player and the team has a great crop of highly-touted prospects on the way. Combined with the new ownership situation, the future on Long Island is very bright for a franchise that has been in the dark since the early ‘90s.