I was asked by several people for my take on an online fiasco involving that the Isles might be for sale under $100 million dollars. For those who didn't catch this last week, Hockeybuzz's main guy Eklund heard some chatter that the NY Islanders MIGHT be for sale.
The straight dope I gave to all who asked was I didn't believe it. I questioned if someone was floating something in order to press on the Town of Hempstead because all this would do is enrage fans. Enrage it did, much to Eklund's chagrin.
Now despite my previous connections with Hockeybuzz, since I am his Islanders' blogger (on leave till next season), his post was rather innocuous. But, many took it and reacted to it like he dropped an atom bomb on their Hooter's wings and beer.
However, in knowing Isles' fans, he should have known better. Furthermore, this is really not the season—with the standings or the Lighthouse Project being stuck in molasses—to really piss off Isles fans.
But upon face value, moving away from all that drama, could this be another missile into a media scrum that has developed on LI? To be honest, this was my first reaction when hearing about it. I thought to myself: Good god, some people are now using the hockey rumor people to push on the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County!
Chris Botta, of the excellent www.IslandersPointBlank.com, the former 20-year PR honcho of the Islanders, immediately responded from his own vacation in a cantankerous mood as if he was Christian Bale on a movie set.
He insinuated that Eklund launched a rumor capitalizing from a large long island readership on Hockeybuzz and because "His Bottaness" was out of the country.
No, I don't lie. He actually said this. Ok, he did not use the term: "Bottaness" but it did have that kind of pomp and circumstance.
Botta then bubbled up a litany of issues that he must have written down in a little black book that he was allowed to keep from when he worked for the Isles. It was fascinating in vitriol, where he seemed to be coming from, swooping in as protector to the Isles' fans.
To be honest, Botta had good reason to bark. Eklund has been lambasted on his site many times over rumors that he had shot down. The former PR flack and anonymous blogger seem to have a pleasant enough relations in a official capacity, but privately, well you can get the gist in a blog. One doesn't quite like the other, even if they both depend on page views. Funny. Because both sites probably went through the roof today.
I don't try to get involved with rumors and innuendo. It was never my thing. But what I will do is debunk it to the nines, because providing some clarity and giving my own perceptions to fact or fiction IS my thing.
I've poo-poo'd on an Eklund rumor even when a blogger on his site. I lampooned him on HFboards back even before that. I will say it here when applicable. I don't buy internet chatter.
I think most, even ex-players and those connected, are...in most cases, idiots who haven't a clue of what they are talking about. They think that they are profound and the oracle because they can hold a stick or hold water for those who hold a stick, and think they have inside info on all that goes on—most, not all. There are a few gems out there.
So let's take on the rumor itself: $100 Million or Less for the Isles?
As Kevin Schultz of the excellent www.BarryMelroseRocks.com site already showed, there is an issue of numbers almost immediately. Under $100 million to a team priced in Forbes at $140 million?
Maybe, but the price I heard that is making the rounds in the mill is $75 million. That is almost less than half and seems very hard to believe—recession or not. So the numbers simply don't fly.
Now, one can wonder and several already asked this of me:
"Could Eklund have been trying to get the Isles' fans back that left when you left, BD?"
I couldn't tell you. But if there is chatter on the Isles being for sale, their top know-it guy for the Isles just screamed no they ain't!"—internationally. So, chances are, it ain't happening.
Now, we can all be fooled and have it blow up in our faces, as was the reaction to Tampa rumors until suddenly...oops, Tampa was sold. People bashed away on that too. But rumors about team sales is serious business, and Ek knew or should have known what he was getting into.
But to most around the Isles, the rumor seems off. The NY Islanders are the set linchpin to the Lighthouse Project. They make it sound like, without it, there is no project. Therefore it is an impossibility. They might be right.
HOWEVER an argument can be made with the former Continental Arena, who post-Devils, is making more money than ever. Why? No professional team scheduling conflicts or issues. In fact, Newark, the new home of the Devils, is now upset because the Meadowlands is still able to clean house. They assumed the place would be dead in the water.
They assumed wrong.
So, could the Lighthouse Project survive without the Isles? Yes. Despite a "no comment" by them on my question to them, there is no doubt it would. But it would be anathema for Charles Wang who was behind that project, but then would not have a home for the Isles.
As for the Brooklyn supposition, forget it. Brooklyn is not a hockey town and will never be one. I was born there and went to college there. It is a hockey burial ground. Is anyone stupid enough to put a team there?
To be honest, as I said here, even KC does not have a very good chance of being a place that the Isles would move to. In other words, let me say it plainer. The Isles have zero chance of going to Kansas City.
The lease and the fact there are far cheaper and more attractive teams in worse shape make this a load of crap. It was always a load of crap, even when it was all over your newspaper.
The Crux Of The Matter
YET, this KC rumor really set the table for all of this. A rumor which was not denied or addressed by those aforementioned because it was a rumor that the Isles themselves let fester...
This allows others in hockey invariably to make their own conjecture—projecting or promoting what they hear.
Ahhh, the chickens coming home to roost perhaps? I mean, didn't they all open this Pandora's Box before Eklund dropped his blog today?
The KC rumors and after-effects got a jovial Chris Botta actually typing LOL as if he was a giddy schoolgirl on his T-Mobile Fave Five. Except instead of blowing it down, he was helping it stand-up.
As a fan and former PR honcho for 20 years, I'm obviously hot on the subject. What fan wouldn't be? Look at today's hodge-podge of emotion.
But, it seems to me that a game is played by those who vilify on one thing (the latest fiasco), but then don't bash another. After all, did anyone bash Newsday for all that KC talk? Not a chance. They PROMOTED IT, added to it, and fanned those flames.
Why? Because the Isles made that one up themselves by their preseason pick and training camp choice.
All in all, strange things are afoot in Isles' Country. Some rumors they like. Some they don't. They are a fickle bunch to be sure. Don't buy all the dramatic music. There are sure hands on the strings to the violin.
That's my take.