Could Pat LaFontaine Become The New Owner Of The New York Islanders?
It's been difficult to find any glimmer of hope when it comes to hockey these days. The NHL recently stated that both the players union and the owners are "taking a step back from negotiations" after three straight days of talking. But all this means to the common hockey fan is one thing: more waiting. (Photo Credit: hockeymedia/Flickr)
Impatiently waiting to hear when the 2013 season will actually start (if it ever does) as the October 11th season opener for several teams inches closer to cancellation. The Islanders are still set to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, October 12th before taking the ice for their home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers the following night, Saturday, October 13th. But let's face it. Those games aren't happening.
In fact, this is one blogger who will be shocked if any hockey fan gets to chant their usual "Hoctober" rally cry for the first puck drop of the year. (But hey, Gretzky thinks that there will be hockey by January! Woop-de-doo!)
But some news leaked today that could spark some interest for Islanders fans. It might not exactly be the glimmer of hope that everyone is waiting for, but it is definitely news worth looking at.
TSN released a story today that claims that former Islanders forward, Pat Lafontaine was contacted by European investors about buying the franchise from Charles Wang and keeping the team in Nassau County. TSN credits the New York Post for the original story.
Wouldn't that be something? One of the best Islanders in team history stepping in and standing at the helm with a group of European investors providing him the cash flow he would need to add some good players to a relatively young lineup.
Imagine if this group of investors, plus LaFontaine, could find a way to get a new arena without the political nonsense and headaches that Charles Wang has faced since the dawning of the Lighthouse Project over ten years ago?
But let's put on the brakes here...
LaFontaine has only said that he is "intrigued" about the possible idea. Decisions like these aren't made over night. If this is the first we're hearing of the story, it's likely that we won't hear anything substantial for some time - and that's if it ever comes to that. LaFontaine may want nothing to do with running this team. He hasn't exactly been mentioned much at Nassau Coliseum over the past few years..
Many of you may remember that Pat LaFontaine was part of Charles Wang's "rule by committee" team that started with GM Neil Smith, head coach Ted Nolan and included former players like Bryan Trottier on the board as well. The committee didn't last very long though, as it quickly fell apart. Neil Smith was fired after only 40 days on the job, and LaFontaine stepped down just a few hours later. Since then, LaFontaine has not been really mentioned in Nassau Coliseum.
The 2012 season saw the Islanders honor four players by inducting them into the Islanders Hall of Fame in their 40th anniversary season; Eddy Westfall, Ken Morrow, Pat Flatley and Kenny Jonsson. All four were deserving candidates, but you have to wonder where the man who scored the game-winning goal during the Easter Epic would sit on that list. LaFontaine, who is tied for fifth in goals all-time and sits sixth in points all-time for the Islanders organization, has yet to be inducted to the Islanders Hall of Fame.
LaFontaine also still lives on Long Island and is very active in youth hockey and is constantly doing charity work for many organizations.
I can't say if there is exactly a bruised relationship between the current Isles owner and this NHL Hall-of-famer. But knowing that there hasn't been a visible relationship between the Islanders and LaFontaine makes me wonder if he would want to actually buy the Islanders, or if Wang would even sell him the team.
Wang reportedly values the Islanders at $300 million, whereas other reports, such as Forbes magazine, have them slated at $149 million.
That right there could be enough to make any selling discussions tense.
However, the idea of one of the best Islanders of all time to take over and save the franchise from possibly moving after 2015, something Wang has indicated by stating that the team will not play in the current Nassau Coliseum once the current lease expires, is an interesting piece of news that doesn't involve labor disputes and CBA nonsense.
At the very least, it's good to know that people are still working towards keeping the Islanders in Nassau County.