The New York Islanders‘ potential ownership and lease issues have been on the radar since at least last August, when a vote to fund the replacement of the aging Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum failed among Nassau County voters. The team’s lease at Nassau will expire in July 2015 and current team owner Charles Wang has repeatedly said he will not play a single game in the old arena if nothing happens before the expiry of that agreement. This has led to much speculation that the Islanders could be moving–popular potential destinations include Brooklyn (though the new Barclays Center would be the smallest NHL arena), Quebec City, Seattle and Kansas City.
However, a group of legendary Islanders may be able to help their team stay on Long Island.
According to the New York Post, Pat LaFontaine has reportedly been approached by an unnamed group of European investors about a proposal to buy the team and keep it where it is. Sources say that LaFontaine is interested in the idea.
LaFontaine still lives on Long Island and remains active in area charities. However, he and Wang are not the best of friends. In 2006, they disagreed over Wang’s hiring and firing decisions when he let go of general manager Neil Smith six weeks after hiring him. LaFontaine was slotted in as an unpaid adviser the same day Smith was hired and resigned in protest. He’s been kind of a persona non grata since then, never invited back to the arena or inducted into the team’s hall of fame–even though he’s among the tops for goals and points in Islanders history.
Though the vote to help fund a new arena failed, reportedly there are three builders who are in the running to be named lead developer in creating the site for a different new arena.
Plus, two other Islanders legends are–independently of LaFontaine, for now–trying to help keep the team where it is. Denis Potvin and Bob Nystrom are assisting a Long Island developer who is one of the three auditioning to build a new arena.
If any of these Islanders greats are interested in purchasing the team, though, it is going to cost them. The team has a reported price tag of $300 million.