After a saga that featured plenty of twists and turns, Charles Wang has finally sold the NHL's New York Islanders.
According to Arthur Staple of Newsday, former Washington Capitals co-owner John Ledecky is one-half of the winning bid:
BREAKING NEWS: Charles Wang has agreed to sell the #Isles to John Ledecky, former co-owner of the Capitals, and investor Scott Malkin.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) August 19, 2014
The Islanders provided a statement via their official website, and Ledecky offered the following comments:
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL."
Wang added: "I'm thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders’ final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. I look forward to a long and successful partnership."
Although the sale did not become official until today, David Pagnotta of TheFourthPeriod.com reports that it has been in place since the beginning of the month:
Mystery group now known. Wang sells Isles to John Ledecky & Scott Malkin, pending NHL approval. Sale reportedly happened Aug 1.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) August 19, 2014
TSN Hockey is also reporting that Wang will remain in place as a majority shareholder:
Islanders Update: Ledecky and Malkin to purchase a substantial minority interest in the team. Wang will continue as majority shareholder— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) August 19, 2014
The full transition will be complete in two years when Ledecky and Scott Malkin officially become majority owners, per Robert Brodsky of Newsday:
New Islanders co-owners Jon Ledecky and London based investor Scott Malkin will transitioning to majority owner in two years— Robert Brodsky (@BrodskyRobert) August 19, 2014
Until then, Wang believes that his partnership with Ledecky and Malkin will be a fruitful one, according to Brett Cyrgalis of The New York Post:
Wang, in a statement announcing #Isles sale: “I look forward to a long and successful partnership.” In 2yrs, he's no longer majority owner— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) August 19, 2014
According to Brodsky, Ledecky has made his intentions for the franchise clear as they strive to become champions:
1/2 Ledecky: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles— Robert Brodsky (@BrodskyRobert) August 19, 2014
2/2 "and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL"— Robert Brodsky (@BrodskyRobert) August 19, 2014
The sale comes five months after the Isles were seemingly sold to Pennsylvania lawyer Andrew Barroway. Per Richard Sandomir of The New York Times, Wang agreed to sell the franchise to Barroway for $420 million, but later reneged.
Barroway has since filed suit and asked for $10 million in damages, but Columbia Law School professor John C. Coffee Jr. believes the lack of a formal contract will make it difficult for Barroway to win, although not impossible, according to Sandomir.
"Bottom line, Wang has the advantage, but it is not a slam dunk if the evidence indisputably shows that he has welched," Coffee told Sandomir. "Barroway might be able to get an injunction against a sale to a third party based on a claim of bad faith."
Are Ledecky and Malkin the right owners for the Islanders?
The financial terms of the sale have yet to be released, but there is no question that Wang will be able to afford a $10 million hit if Barroway's lawsuit is ultimately successful.
Wang bought the Islanders back in 2000, and the franchise has undergone some tough times since then. With that said, he has managed to keep the team in New York, and even brokered a deal that will see the Isles move to Brooklyn and play in the Barclays Center beginning in the 2015-16 season.
The Islanders are coming off a difficult campaign that saw them finish among the NHL's worst teams, but they have one of the league's elite players in center John Tavares as well as plenty of reason for optimism moving forward.
If nothing else, this sale will allow the Islanders to put past failures behind them and aspire to reach the Stanley Cup level they once occupied in the early 1980s. A lot of work has to be done in order to reach that point, but new ownership is certainly the first step.
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