4/16/08

Mr Wang's Town Hall Meeting 2/14/01

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/16/2008 10:53:00 AM
Only seems fitting given tonight's meeting at the Coliseum that we look back at a meeting long ago Mr Wang was a part of during his first season.

No, I'm not reposting this to rehash Mike Milbury's tenure or go negative on anyone, just more of a look at how a past fan forum format went with the owners involvement and the ramifications. This meeting was held in season before a game at a time the philosophy were far different at another time in club history.
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Wang: "We're Going to Turn This Around"
From the Islanders website:

Uniondale, NY (February 14 2001) Islanders co-owner Charles Wang made
himself available to a banquet room full of Islanders fans before
Wednesday night's game against Philadelphia to hear their questions,
criticisms and support regarding the current state of the team.

In a 40-minute Town Hall-style meeting, several fans fired questions
at Wang on topics including the status of GM Mike Milbury and coach
Butch Goring, potential free agent signings this summer and plans for
a new arena for Nassau County.

Last week's declaration by Wang that Milbury would return next season
was, not surprisingly, the hot-button issue of the night for the
fans. They wondered how Wang had come to that decision. "Well, he's
bigger than me," said Wang, lightening the mood. "It's a done deal.
He's coming back, guys. Milbury starts at ground zero with me. So
let's support the guy and make him feel loved. We're going to turn
this thing around. It's going to take time.

"I believe he knows hockey and I'm going to give him a shot. Whether
it works or not, I have no guarantees. He obviously worked under
different circumstances. Working with me, I told him, `Here's what
we're going to build on. Here's what it is.' He gave me a plan.
Without all these injuries and the chemistry not being right, we may
be better. But we're not, and that's a fact. Still, let's give him
his shot."

Wang also revealed that the fate of head coach Butch Goring was
strictly in Milbury's hands. "We have made no commitment to Butch,"
Wang said of Goring, who has one year remaining (after this season)
on his contract. "We are not going to make any statements other than
that. It is totally Mike's call."

In preaching patience to the fans, Wang used the Ottawa Senators as
an example of how a team can build itself up to be competitive. At
that point, one fan pointed out that Ottawa was an expansion team
while the Islanders are playing in their 28th season. "We're worse
than a new team sometimes," said the brutally-honest Wang, drawing
laughter.

This Town Hall was in stark contrast to the Fan Forums of previous
ownerships, in which since-departed managements told the fans they
had all the answers, only to set themselves up when they didn't back
up the bravado. Wang didn't always tell the fans everything they
wanted to hear. He didn't sugar-coat anything and was not interested
in winning a popularity contest. Wang just gave his team's loyal
supporters the facts.

Wang was feisty, fun and frank throughout, at one point telling the
golden-haired fan more commonly known as Ziggy, "Sit down and shut
up," when the fan hogged the stage after the owner already had
addressed his topic several times. When one fan said the Milbury
issue might result in the team losing ticketholders, he said, "You
can give them up if you want. I'm sorry if we lose you as a fan, but
we have to make the tough decisions and stand by them." When fans
shouted out names of people who should be considered as coach or GM,
he said, "Yeah, guys, I know who [former Sabres coach] Ted Nolan is."
"Ziggy" proceeded to give his exclusive scoop– but false urban
legend – on why the talented Nolan hasn't received a second NHL job.
Wang and the fans groaned, and the subject was changed.

The crowd of approximately 70 die-hards touched on other topics, such
as restoring organ music in favor of taped music, signing some key
free agents as well as re-upping current Islanders whose contracts
will be up at the conclusion of this season.

Wang said he hopes a new arena for the Islanders will be built within
the next four to five years. He stressed the importance of Nassau
County developing the area around the Coliseum, possibly including a
convention center.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Wang spoke individually with some
fans and personally thanked them for their support. "I want to be
able to get together again like this," he said.

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Of course on 3/7/01 after Butch Goring was fired he had a few words about that meeting and what transpired (above) in this Daily News Article from Peter Botte, a few days later Mr Wang and Butch Goring did meet and things were settled down for those who remember and he was offered a job with the organization.

Most of the blame from Butch Goring in the article (below) was on Mike Milbury for misleading him on running a prospect team that was expected to lose and many of the veteran player.

Anyone who wants the full article please e-mail or ask in the response section.
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Islanders-Daily News 3-7-2001
GORING RIPS MILBURY, PLAYERS OVER FIRING

"I really felt my days were numbered, particularly after Charles'
open forum," Goring said of a recent fan gathering in which Wang
talked repeatedly about former Buffalo coach Ted Nolan. "I don't
think there's any question my credibility with the players was hurt
with those kinds of statements."
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