Betrayal: The Charles Wang Story

Vinny, our man on the Isles beat, unloads. He reloads, and unloads again. His target? Isles owner, Charles Wang. Keep your friends close, Vinny, and your enemies closer.

“Charles Wang came to us in the new millennium, a harbinger of a better tomorrow. That better tomorrow, though we’ve seen glimpses over a decade, has yet to arrive. Hope is the most powerful of all emotions. Without it, we are adrift. That is where Charles Wang has left us, adrift in the tumultuous seas, bereft of hope. It didn’t have to be this way. Alas, it is.

Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar took over at the urging of former NY US Senator and long time Kingmaker, Alfonse D’Amato. They road in on the backs of the ne’er do wells, cheapskates, liars and criminals who had profiteered from this team’s legacy since Roy Boe left. The Computer Associates Co-Chairs would flaunt their hockey ignorance, vowing to stay away from Hockey Ops and let their hockey staff make the decisions.

Unfortunately, the person they trusted was Mike Milbury.

Milbury knew he was on borrowed time given his track record of SUCKING under previous owners of ill refute. Milbury acted quickly, shuffling off Luongo and in DiPietro.

That year sucked, but when Mike swung for the fences and we finished 1 point off a division title in 02 thanks to Yashin, Peca, Osgood and the criminally underrated Adrian Aucoin, the long lost spirit of Islander country soared. We haven’t seen it since. Since Milbury canned the coach who orchestrated the turn around (Peter Laviolette), we have steadily regressed. Laviolette, Stirling, Shaw, Nolan, Gordon, and Capuano.

That’s THIS DECADE of Islander head coaches. After our initial growing pains, we had one coach from 1974 to 1994. [Note: Terry Simpson took over while Arbour was briefly retired]. Now it’s a yearly carousel, and it’s disgusting. The coaching position has become the position to offer sacrifice to a pissed off fanbase while nothing actually changes.

Meanwhile, the GM chair, has seen other than a one month laugh riot with Neil Smith as a figurehead for Wang’s “committee”, exactly one change: Milbury out. Snow in. Yes, we fired a Stanley Cup winning GM 30 days into his tenure to hire our backup goalie. This is the exact sort of shit that has become commonplace on Wang’s Island.

Garth Snow

Nonetheless, Snow pulled one out of his ass, sending three bags of dirt to Edmonton and landing Ryan Smyth to set up the improbable 2007 Playoff run, punctuated by 4 wins in 6 days including the season ending shootout winner with a Dubie poke check as an exclamation point. But that was the high point of his tenure. To be fair to Snow, he’s under orders to keep the payroll a pubic hair above the salary cap floor. He’s done a good job of stockpiling assets and turning our system from a Milbury authored dearth of talent to a legitimate top 5 farm system in the NHL. That’s a good thing.

The fact he is unwilling to dip into that cultivated pool of talent and add veteran pieces to his promising young NHL core is infuriating. Snow has proven a shrewd drafter, yes, but that was under the assistance of Ryan Jankowski, who was banished for daring to have GM dreams of his own. By himself, Snow seems to be able to assess his teams needs and address them in the talent pool via draft and shrewd waiver wire plays. As far as adding legitimate top line NHL talent via free agency, he has whiffed.

They’ve publicly courted the big names, and failed. Then they’ve parlayed that into the sympathy card of ‘no one will play here because of the arena’. That’s widely known to be bullshit. I’ll tell you the dirty little secret of their free agent ‘strategy’: Back loaded contracts. No elite NHL player wants a BACKLOADED contract.

This is Wang’s end game. Appease the fans with offers that have no freaking chance of being taken and then offer veterans on the way to retirement incentive laden contracts that they will never achieve.

Thus, you have “courted” the big names and failed. That engenders loyalty from your fanbase and a ‘us against the world’ mentality while banging the NEW ARENA drum. Then, while you give out these incentive laden 35+ contracts and Entry Level contracts to amass a nice few million over the floor with bonuses, in reality you are icing a team TEN MILLION DOLLARS under the cap floor.

So, Charles Wang, SAVIOR OF THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS, has brought us this, in over a decade: 4 playoff appearances. A TOTAL of 6 PLAYOFF WINS. 4 failed Arena proposals, and the absolute bastardization of our hallowed logo and name.

People talk about the dark ages before Wang without understanding the reality of the situation. Prior to Wang, our playoff drought was 6 years. It will be 5 after this season. We are where we were before, with another dozen years wasted. I will concede, the homegrown talent here is palpable. There would be many reasons for optimism, would this motherfucker one day wake up and invest a goddamn dime in the team. There have been plenty of chances to give Tavares, Grabner, Okposo, Hamonic, McDonald et al the support they need to get to the second season. They haven’t even tried. 38 year old Steve Staios is a bandaid on a bullet wound. Ditto for Brian Rolston. It’s patently absurd. It’s beyond revolting.

And when the owner gets on his soapbox and spits out the same old lies “our only goal is to keep the Islanders here and bring the Cup back Home”, “We spend roughly in the middle of the road in terms of salary”, “there are no financial estrictions”, the fanbase gives up hope.

We are being lied to, and we know it Charles. Why? Because we’ve been through it before. We expected better of you. You were to be the savior. The chosen one.

Instead, you’ve been another blight upon our proud tradition, who not only stymies our present, but threatens our very future at all.

Today, you continue to play a game with Nino Niedereitter, 5th over all last year. You sit him, not for performance, but because he can’t be allowed to reach his bonuses. But you can’t send him down because you need his salary to reach the floor. We see it, Charles. It’s transparent. It’s disgusting. It wounds us. The kid has no idea what he did wrong, and you stymie his development to save cash.

Congrats, Charles.

You went from being the one to save the franchise, to among a history of mad men, tyrants, thieves and frauds, King of All Islander Scumbags.

And for that, I offer you a sincere F U.”

Follow Vinnie on twitter, if you dare: @RoseTintedVisor

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8 Responses to Betrayal: The Charles Wang Story

  1. R.J. says:

    I had no idea all of this was going on behind the scenes. He’s nearly as bad as the NBA’s Donald Sterling, which is saying a lot.

  2. Anthony says:

    Great artice Vinnie. You put it perfectly. Now everyone can see why us Islander fans are so pissed off all the time, and why we get happy at every minor victory.

  3. Dominik says:

    re: Nino — It’s a fun theory, but it’s incorrect. If you look at the CBA (page 260) and see what performance bonuses are actually possible on an ELC, you’d see that there’s almost no way Nino would hit any of them even if he played all 61 remaining games. His injury, and his likely debatable readiness for NHL hockey, assures of that. And that’s without even knowing which of those is actually in his contract (e.g. 35 assists is a *minimum* threshold as outlined in the CBA, but that’s just the starting point).

    On the contrary, if Nino lasts past 9 NHL games played this year, he’ll make quite a bit *more* dough from the Isles than if they sent him back to juniors.

  4. Dom, the thing is this: Nino was just an example. There are plenty more, you know them as well as I do. Charles Wang is cheating the Salary Cap floor. The Devils were punished and embarrassed for cheating the ceiling. Why isnt Wang held accountable?

    • Dominik says:

      As far as Devils at floor vs. Wang at ceiling, I honestly think the NHL cares far more about keeping teams from circumventing the cap ceiling rather than the floor because it wants to rein in salaries and never imagined that the floor would rise this much. The league’s profitability basically rests on five-six teams who rake in the majority of revenues, and those five-six teams’ revenue growth has pushed the payroll range far higher than most of the league (small market teams and de facto small market teams like the Isles) ever imagined.

      Of course it sucks for Isles fans that Wang is one of the owners keeping expenditures at the floor for whatever reason, but I think it distracts from your argument to say, “You sit [Nino] not for performance, but because he can’t be allowed to reach his bonuses,” since that’s certainly not what’s going on with that player.

  5. Zee Executioner says:

    As a person who has followed the Islander franchise for 30+ years, this post did my heart some good. I agree with Dominik, and believe the post would be an absolute em, if you end it after, ”Instead, you’ve been another blight upon our proud tradition, who not only stymies our present, but threatens our very future at all.”

    Otherwise, your post is spot on and is the very reason I see them in Quebec in 2015-2016 with new ownership.

  6. Zee Executioner says:

    sorry. I meant to write gem in the above post.

  7. rick says:

    you bastard wang somebody will knock you out for totally decimating our beloved islanders, f ing a hole F u

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