UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The new owners of the New York Islanders have a bold goal for the fallen franchise.
“Fifth ring,” Jonathan Ledecky said.
Ledecky and Scott Malkin were introduced at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum, about three weeks after the sale was approved by the NHL. The pair will spend this season and next as the franchise’s minority owners, then transitioning into the majority owners starting in 2016-17, with current owner Charles Wang taking a minority role.
Surrounded by reminders of the team’s four straight Stanley Cups in the 1980s, the new partners spoke of a better future for the team that is headed to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center next season.
Despite consecutive losses, the Islanders are off to a 4-2-0 start, buoyed by the acquisitions of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, and forwards Cory Conacher, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin. They augment a roster which includes John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Travis Hamonic.
“(Majority owner) Charles (Wang) and (General Manager) Garth (Snow) made a huge effort to put a strong young team on the ice,” Malkin said. Both he and Ledecky were joined on the dais by Wang and Snow.
“The vision Charles has created of the team, the new arena, the strength from which to build, was very important to us,” Malkin said.
Wang will spend this season and next mentoring Ledecky and Malkin into becoming NHL owners. Malkin has never owned a NHL franchise, while Ledecky partnered with Ted Leonsis to purchase the Washington Capitals in May 1999. Ledecky sold his stake in 2001.
Wang bought the Islanders in April 2000 with Sanjay Kumar, and became majority owner in 2004.
“It’s the right thing, to do a transition,” Wang said. “I wanted to continue with them after meeting them and knowing them, better and better. It was obvious. I wanted to find the right partners that I want to be proud of and be a part of, and that’s what we did.”
Ledecky and Malkin will be the eighth ownership group in the franchise’s history, as the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the franchise on Sept. 30.
Last week, Forbes magazine reported the sale price at $485 million. The magazine had valued the franchise as being worth $195 million in November 2013.
Throughout the press conference, Ledecky and Malkin stressed the importance of the franchise’s relationship with the community at-large as being a key component to the purchase.
“I think we both have a great love for hockey,” Malkin said. “Life has its moments of opportunity (where one can) decide to step forward, and Charles gave us that opportunity. It was a privilege to be in that position. For us, we saw this as a moment where we could embrace things we believe in, and embrace the Islanders and what they stand for.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was expected to attend the press conference, but had to cancel due to the shootings in Ottawa, according to Wang. The league announced earlier in the day that Wednesday night’s Toronto Maple Leafs-Ottawa Senators game was being postponed.
ISLES CALL UP ANDERS LEE
The Islanders recalled forward Anders Lee from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old Lee had three goals and two assists in five games this season for the Sound Tigers. The former Notre Dame player had nine goals and five assists in 22 games for New York last season.
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