As the Islanders are about to enter an era of transition with a move to Brooklyn looming in 2015, it sounds like that might not be the only change coming. Late Thursday night, Bob McKenzie of TSN dropped this nugget:
NYI owner Charles Wang in talks to sell majority stake in NHL franchise. Nothing done yet, no telling if it gets done, but talks underway.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 28, 2014
Chris Botta of Sports Business Journal and a former Islanders employee got Wang on the record to confirm he is having talks to sell the club.
Charles Wang confirms Isles sales talks, says nothing is close. Long way to go, folks. Make no assumptions.— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) March 28, 2014
Wang further clarified in a statement released through the team on Twitter.
"In recent months, there have been numerous expressions of interest in the purchase of the New York Islanders," Wang said. "As I have consistently stated, I have been and remain willing to listen. However, potential buyers expressions of interest in the team or even my listening to them does not mean that any deal will be reached."
Islanders fans' ears probably perked up a bit after hearing that news. Charles Wang has been involved with the club since 2000 when he became part-owner. In 2004, he bought out his partner to become majority owner of the club. The years since have been one disaster after another from bad contracts to unsuccessful bouts with local government to a lot of losing hockey.
The club has made the playoffs just twice in the Wang era and has been hemorrhaging money, an estimated $10 million per season. The club is also due to repay a $75 million loan at the end of this season according to the New York Post.
The 69-year-old owner certainly hasn't had an easy go of it over the years, some of that being self-inflicted. However, with a bright prospect pipeline, a budding star in John Tavares and the pending move to Brooklyn, the Islanders may not be so terribly unattractive to potential buyers. It's not an easy sell, but possibly not as tough as a few years ago.
Wang has talked about selling the team in the past, but it sure seems like a distinct possibility this time around with a new home secured. Even if there is a long way to go as Wang says, there's movement.