Islanders Owner Charles Wang Sued for Allegedly Backing out of Deal to Sell Team

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIAugust 11, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24:  New York Islanders owner Charles Wang announces the team's move to the Barclay Center in 2015 at a press conference at the Barclays Center on October 24, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

An agreement was in place for the New York Islanders to be sold to NY ICE, but current owner Charles Wang backed out and reportedly sold the team to different buyers. Now the corporation that attempted to acquire the NHL franchise is filing a lawsuit against Wang.   

Barbara Ross and Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reported Monday that NY ICE's Andrew Barroway is suing Wang for $10 million for the $420 million deal that was agreed upon and then denounced by Wang. The report outlined the complete stipulations of the agreement, along with why Wang allegedly reneged:

"Wang was having seller's remorse," the court papers say, "because he believed he had agreed to sell the Islanders for a price too low after hearing the unrelated news that a $2 billion bid was place to purchase" the Clippers.

"The failure to follow through with the sale has caused NY Ice irreparable harm" and if the deal can’t go forward, the firm says in court papers, "NY ICE is entitled to the $10 million 'break up' fee to which the parties agreed" or to be reimbursed for its costs and losses.

The deal negotiated in March called for NY ICE to acquire 100% of the equity in the Islanders and Wang's corporations, CBW Inc. CBW LP and CBW LLC, would get a 25% interest in NY ICE.

Newsday's Steven Marcus previously reported that the two parties had halted talks to trade the team:

Per the court documents, Wang talked to Barroway in private on June 10, indicating that the lucrative sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to owner Steve Ballmer essentially changed the game.

That led to a far pricier demand of $548 million, even after the March 10 handshake agreement was struck. When NY ICE didn't oblige, the deal was off, and Wang informed the corporation he'd sold the team to someone else on Aug. 1.

WCBS 880's Gordon Damer offered his take on the situation, speaking on the internal turbulence the Islanders seem to be facing as an organization:

It does seem as though Barroway and NY ICE have a strong case, considering the court documents outline pretty clearly what transpired.

Wang may be on the road to a difficult, drawn-out legal situation that hangs over an already struggling Islanders franchise. Since the report asserts that Wang sold the team to a different party, there should be news soon as to who it is and how much more lucrative their offer was.

Although this threatens to cast a shadow over the Islanders, there is at least some reason for optimism about the team itself moving forward. Captain John Tavares, who's coming off a torn MCL and meniscus, is liking what he sees this offseason, per's Cory Wright:

It's been a really good summer from a training aspect. It's nice to focus on what I really need to work on, what I need to get better at and to get in the best shape I can for the season.

[...] The competition in camp might be the highest it's been since I've been here. Certainly that's going to push us individually and as a team. Not only are guys fighting for roles and ice time, but it also will help us as a team, bringing us together and pushing one another to be better as a group.

The Islanders could use a positive shot of momentum. In addition to this looming ownership issue, New York missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. That came after a momentous postseason berth in the 2012-13 campaign, so it's important for Tavares to lead the way and help his club bounce back.

Tavares, the 2009 draft's No. 1 overall pick, will hopefully be healthy enough to do so. Young right winger Kyle Okposo led the team in points in 2013-14 and will be integral to the Islanders' success.

However, something must be done to upgrade the Islanders' defense. New York yielded 3.2 goals per game and killed off just 78.1 percent of penalties with success, ranking 28th and 29th in the NHL in those categories respectively.