Why Are We Here Now? Blame Yourselves

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/31/2011 09:43:00 PM | Comments

Through the long history of NYIFC or Islanders-Sound Tigers going back to 1998, I have never questioned our teams fans much less our loyal readers. This blog has the greatest respect for our fans.

NYIFC has done endless entries on media's role in hurting perception and other items that contribute to poor fan support not only for our team but NY hockey in general.

Today it's time to point that bright light at ourselves as fans of this franchise for over a generation.

This is not personal but a general statement.

One reason why we are here now is because of twenty plus years of being one of the lowest drawing teams in professional sports going back to 1989, some want to live and die by the Milbury card, that's not fair or reflective of what has happened.

The excuses end now, they have to.

Mike Milbury was in a Stanley Cup Final in 89-90, he has a future.

Anyone who has not been at the games deserves a measure of blame.

Of course finances are always tight and a hockey ticket is an expensive luxury regardless of a teams record. Guess what? It's the same everywhere.

28th-30th in attendance has been 28th-30th for far too long.

Tough Reality Check That Is Not Easy To Write:
I took a rare swim in the kiddie pool for a few days. Among those pretending they are selling themselves as some kind of necessary resource or believe it is about themselves playing to audiences, they pointed the finger at everything but poor fan support for the club's current problems.

Good for page views, resume, and keeping popular, however many of the kiddies are very much about making a career for themselves above all and if not with this team perhaps another. They might love the New York Islanders, their personal gain however is the highest priority.

NYIFC was started to help tell the New York Islanders story as fairly as possible, nothing more ever. Punches cannot be pulled about the clubs attendance any longer.

History vs Hard Facts:
After four straight cups, 1987 playoff run and a first place finish in 1988, the fan base was gone in less than a year by 1989. Fan support stopped long before John Pickett began his exit strategy and that was with Bill Torrey and Al Arbour still here.

Not too many fan bases run for the exits that quickly.

Lack of fan support no doubt in my estimation led to a lot of short-sighted, cost-effective and ultimately poor management decisions whether you wish to acknowledge that or not. Pat Lafontaine held out and was traded, Howard Milstein came in and told the fans to fill the building first. Bill Torrey was being booed at the Nassau Coliseum by 1992. Smitty at his retirement ceremony commented on how great it was to see the building full.

You (or our fan base if you prefer) did now show up after 1989, there were empty seats during the 92-93 playoffs. You are not showing up to support Garth Snow’s youth movement.

You (or our fan base if you prefer again) did not support Milbury’s youth movement in Luongo, Palffy, Bertuzzi and those other players and perhaps forced the owner to tell the general manager cut the budget to nothing. As soon as Milbury got permission from Wang’s ownership to spend he saved his job and improved his team by over forty points in one year.

No one complained in 2001-02, you showed up for half a season and one playoff.

We can talk about all of Mike Milbury's trades but our choices as customers were a reason behind those decisions. The team could not continue with less than five thousand people at games, you gave Wang’s 2000 ownership no choice because you refused to be patient or support a youth movement any longer.

Many of you would not support the club last season when the owner dared raise prices to the league average. Prices? Why don't you check out what the public is being charged in Winnipeg to support the Thrashers. ($39 to $129 per game — a season ticket campaign, requiring three to five-year commitments)

How did things get so bad to where winning a playoff series here is some standard of success?

Mike Milbury did his job, he brought the NHL playoffs back to New York under Wang at a time you demanded Charles Wang prove he was not Howard Milstein. It was the only plan to date you showed any sign of supporting until Wang raised prices to pay for Yashin, Peca and again people stopped showing up by early 2003.

Other local teams fans stay away when losing (Knicks, Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Nets) but none are as fair weather as New York Islander fans or have stayed away longer.

Charles Wang’s New York Islanders made four playoffs in five years as owner before his roster took over the title of the NHL most injured team three of the last four years, it's a mediocre result at best, not the train-wreck some make it out to be.

Many NHL teams have done far worse on the ice, none has done worse in the stands for twenty years. We can blame Milbury but we can’t hide from facts our support at games was terrible before and after Milbury.

Don’t blame Snow, Milbury, Maloney or Torrey, start looking in the mirror because Coliseum approval or not, this league is not supporting franchises drawing under 10,000.

The team that traded for Ryan Smyth was in sixth place in 06-07, Ted Nolan was coaching. 12,000+ showed up for the first game after that trade against St Louis.

Perhaps the only template New York fans accept today is the Yankees way, you either buy everyone and spend the most or we are not attending. Msg has tons of phony/announced sellouts, they cannot put out enough ads for available tickets but it's not as bad as here and they have basketball.

The Devils cannot fill a new building even spending top dollar, it's not as bad as here.

Some fans seem to expect a 2012 payroll with 1980 ticket prices here, that’s not realistic.

It's Changing?
It’s changing when 15,000 people show up on weeknights in October and November, and not from giveaways, it's changing when an adult crowd of die-hard fans are making noise like they used to when a Tuesday night game was the rule here.

Our crowds last season sounded like only a bunch of kids are attending and they looked worse than some of those four figure crowds around 7,000.

The New York Islanders under Charles Wang’s tenure spent tons of money and have had mediocre results (making playoffs) but far better than many of it’s NHL counterparts outdrawing this franchise virtually every single year. Charles Wang's payroll was over forty million before any cap or floor.

No, not a Wang infomercial, this goes beyond who any owner is because there is no time left for that. We can no longer care who owns the team or how they are playing, you have to fill the Coliseum now and send a statement the public support is still here regardless who the owner, general manager or players are.

That solves a lot of problems.

Bottom line our fans have to show up or it’s not going to work here. This teams great past is not going to secure it's future. The local government does not see this franchise as the public trust it should have been.

The NHL is not going to support a team that finishes dead last or at bottom every year in attendance a day longer then they have to. The NHL has to put this team on the road for October/November because weeknight games are an embarrassment here, other teams deserve Friday, Saturday home games too in October and November.

The sad truth is the Florida Panthers, who have not seen a playoff game since 2000 had four thousand more customers per game in 2010-11, they have outdrawn the New York Islanders ten years in a row.

Outside of 2001-02/02-03 the Atlanta Thrashers outdrew the New York Islanders, including the final year of their franchise every single year.

And that's all with tons of opposing fan bases at the Nassau Coliseum plus the late season discounts.

We as fans must now blame ourselves for some of what's happened in the stands since 1989. You don't have any more time to look back, you cannot worry about who the owner is or what anyone did a decade ago or longer.

Take a good look at the player comments from Thrashers about fan support and what it means as they depart Atlanta for Winnipeg.

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum played hosts to one of the greatest teams in NHL history, the only hockey dynasty NY has ever known, the longest dynasty in American hockey history, the seats were filled for every game over a decade plus.

It has to be that way again starting next season.

Unless things begin to change dramatically in the stands nothing that happens on the ice is going to keep this franchise around much longer.

You want to stay home and talk about Mike Milbury, who's been gone since 2006 or John Spano, Howard Milstein, John Pickett, Charles Wang or whoever as excuses for not going to games?

It's all your going to have left to remember this great franchise very soon if that's your ultimate decision.

I'm sorry if you don't like reading this, however it needed to be written, someone had to write it. Anyone can write what you want to read.

Folks generally understand those who actually care write (or tell) what you don't want to read (or hear) whether it's a pleasant task or not.

NYIFC was started because I care about this team and wanted to help.

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Perhaps NYIFC Wrong & The New York Islanders Will Leave New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/31/2011 06:11:00 PM | |Comments

“I believe this day will go down in history as a first step and hopefully this is the catalyst that will get us going again.”
-Charles Wang 5/31/2011.

Perhaps my earlier entry The New York Islanders Will Never Leave New York is simply not correct.

5/31 was not a good day for the future of this franchise.

For those wondering the legislature can still stop the 8/1 vote by July 17, which is fifteen days prior to the referendum and may well do that if financial plans are not there from Mangano/Wang or the legislature do not like what they read.

“It’s important that we take this step. Today’s vote is to make sure that the tax payers, the citizens, have the opportunity to decide. That’s all it is. There are a lot of details and we’re working through (them)… but by the middle of June, we’ll have all the details. This is what we’re working towards. Today is a great first day.” -Charles Wang

Today the Nassau legislature confirmed my earlier entries, that the New York Islanders are nothing more than political football depending on what party supports a Coliseum plan vs which one did not propose it.

I did not think seven members would be willing to risk killing a plan that may well decide Wang's future interest in owning this franchise even before step one.

They were.

I do believe this plan will ultimately be rejected, but Wang's hotel is going nowhere and that was really what I staked my belief on that the club would never leave, with the simple fact the Nassau Coliseum has to be replaced or repaired and someone eventually has to pay for it.

For a long time here I have been pushing the notion, no one entity or side wanted to be the one to say no and take blame whether it be Suozzi, Mangano, Wang, Murray, TOH.

Now the public can do that for everyone thanks to Ed Mangano.

An easy out to lose the team without getting blamed.

Maybe if this passes on 8/1 the legislature kills it anyway just to defeat Mangano/Republicans so it could go that way with one side getting blamed.

Obviously if this passes 8/1, the democratic legislature will challenge the legitimacy of the vote being done in August as a built-in excuse to reject it or the hundred foot wall called NIFA will kill it for sure.

Perhaps reading all the comments out of Atlanta about low attendance, poor fan support shook me a bit because I have never seen the NHL abandon a market in a modern facility this quickly. This was not Bettman's call (his BOG can only approve/reject a sale/relocation which they will approve to make relocation fees) because the NHL does not own the franchise (unlike Phoenix) but this does open the proverbial box which sets future trends.

I feel so horrible for those folks in Atlanta. ASG was not some individual who simply could not afford to operate a franchise, they simply only wanted to run the Atlanta Hawks, to relocate that team this quickly sets a horrible precedent.

As for the New York Islanders, a franchise near the bottom in attendance for twenty plus years, with no home media support, an owner approaching seventy, in the NHL's second oldest facility, who had every plan rejected to save the team who may finally have his plan rejected by the public themselves?

Sure the teams history should have made them bullet proof for the same reasons NYC never let the taxpayers decided any other teams future.

At that point it's more than fair for Charles Wang to say I've done all I can, the people have spoken and the support is simply not there for this franchise to have a future here.

Mangano made the Islanders future a public decision, so once he has his out why would he drag himself back in or force Wang to stay?

Sure the opposite can happen, Charles Wang digs in even harder, takes his Comcast/NBC/Winnipeg Relocation money and see if a new CBA brings him revenue sharing?

Still, Wang may come to realize why am I bothering if the public support is not there for my efforts and hundreds of million lost on a team I did not even follow when it was winning Stanley Cups?

I'm not entirely sure on Smg lease, Wang is on record he will honor it, but who knows if Mangano lets him out if this fails. Until I read otherwise this is also Scott Rechler's Smg lease to manage the Coliseum until 2015.

I know the LH Project gave Wang an immediate lease out if Nassau could not reach a lease agreement after TOH/Lighthouse approval, but that's not the current plan.

I want to believe my earlier entry a rejection will lead to the eventual compromise that will produce an arena agreement. I'm not sure I can after today because the legislature was ready to stop this before it even began.

Do these politicians care enough to even bothering looking ahead to seeing what the loss of this franchise means? I's obvious we would not be here today if they did.

Keep waiting, push vote back, let others bid on land. Same junk as late 90's, except Judy Jacobs is now on other side.

Today was just a terrible day. Hopefully Charles Wang sitting there had a good reason to be smiling that none of us know about.

Next entry for the first time is going to put the spotlight on our fans and the teams support, no punches will be pulled.

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Clarification on Kessel/Gregoire Signing Deadlines

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/28/2011 01:18:00 AM | ||Comments

Just to clarify an error on this, the deadlines for Blake Kessel/Jason Gregoire to be signed are thirty days after they submitted letters intending to turn professional.

There are no compensatory draft selections awarded to the Islanders because they are not first round selections.

This is the rule under which Blake Wheeler left Phoenix and the loophole both players opted out under here.

Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, any player who does not remain a college player through the graduation of his applicable class, must submit a letter stating his intention to turn professional. Upon submission of that letter, the drafting club shall have 30 days to sign the player. If the player and team cannot reach an agreement within that 30 day period, the player becomes a free agent. Wheeler submitted his letter of intention to turn professional on May 8.

THN.com & several outlets in 2008 reported Wheeler's date of UFA was 6/8/2008.

This means both Gregoire and Kessel have different signing deadlines that are not exactly clear (but cannot be 6/1/2011 unless they filed 5/1/2011) because there is nothing out there definitive from professional media on what date they actually submitted a letter.

News of Jason Gregoire's departure broke on 5/18 which by that date would mean on June 17th, he must be signed.

Blake Kessel news was from 5/24 so if he filed at that time or a few days earlier his deadline would be around 6/23 or a day or two earlier.

Until we know the specific filing dates, it's unclear what date they submitted letters to start any thirty day period. NYIFC earlier comments of a 7/1 deadline would not be correct in any instance.

Casey Cizikas deadline is 5/31, he will play for the Memorial Cup Championship on Sunday.

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Updated: Anders Nilsson signed/Islander Notables/Looking Ahead

Updated 6pm:
Islanders website: Report goaltender Anders Nilsson has been signed to a three year entry level contract.

See twitter for link: Nilsson received a max contract, the highest awarded since lockout ended for a third round pick, and will be in North America next season per his agent.

NYIFC Comments:
That puts Nilsson, Koskinen and Poulin in Bridgeport with Montoya, Nabokov and DiPietro in New York. A lot of surgery/injury among current Islander goaltender ranks, but a signing that had to be done this summer or rights of a high draft pick would have been lost.

ITV: Released Doug Weight's complete press conference.

XM: Had an interview with Kyle Okposo on his new contract, Doug Weight and other items.

Will be toning down blog entries or posting them via twitter. NYIFC is supposed to be more of a blog that's an extension of it's twitter page. It has been a very busy stretch so more has been written here lately.

Setting the agenda:
NYIFC is a hockey blog, not a political blog. Entries have been written on the politics behind this, so from here on we're not going that deep into the political end of things, the recent/past archives have plenty on the Coliseum issue.

The order can suddenly change depending on sudden signings, trades or organizational changes. Bridgeport needs a head coach. RFA/UFA have to be signed or qualified and prospects have to be signed.

Seems every day something is happening, it was not this active during games.

1. The Memorial Cup and Casey Cizikas has to be signed by 5/31. St Michaels Majors plays semi-finals Friday night against Kootenay.

Toronto Sun: Terry Koshan had his usual issues with the Islanders, but Casey Cizikas comments on signing with the club on Wednesday.

2. 5/31 is the next Nassau County legislature chance to vote for a referendum vote happening in August, after last week who knows if that will be delayed again?

Instead of waiting on twitter updates/articles from this blog/wherever go to NassauCounty.ny.iqm2.com and simply watch meeting/hearing/vote live for yourselves.

3. After that no doubt more financial articles and spin in Cablevision's newspaper and a ton of rhetoric both ways. You know where this blog stands on these items, Mangano/politics/ect.

4. Draft updates/possible signings or qualifying offers to RFA or UFA. NYIFC has opened it's draft sections here and at the prospect blog.

As for UFA The Province: Zenon Konopka's comments on Trevor Gillies, and other subjects.

It's great the Islanders locked up Grabner, Okposo and likely will do so with their other RFA. The backloaded contracts speak a great deal to Charles Wang's time as owner whether a Coliseum referendum passes and receives approvals or not.

Charles Wang may not be around to pay those players for a lot of reasons, he will be seventy two come final year of those deals.

It also has to be written who is going to buy this team from him if he becomes in effect, the next Smg with a lot of the property/hotel revenue going to him? It's obvious around the NHL simply owning the building and getting all event revenue is not enough to make owning a team self-sustaining, even when it's new.

When details come out from credible media (source free) with direct quotes regarding financing there will be more to read, not before.
My initial reaction was taken aback when Doug Weight was assigned assistant coach/assistant to the gm. I wanted a reaction from Jack Capuano, who is now the full time head coach who has Scott Gordon's staff. Sometimes a general manager/coach relationship goes south which could be a problem for someone in that mix if Weight is in the middle which his role clearly suggests.

Doug Weight is as visible and respected a figure as there is in hockey. If there was an issue he would be outspoken so I do not foresee a problem here. Weight will not pull punches.

Previous assistant's to Garth Snow seemed very peripheral or not much detail was brought out or confirmed by articles vs what was advertised. If Weight will be behind the bench for every game we will see. Weight's efforts regarding pp at end of last season failed as someone behind the bench with a lot of injuries in a limited body of work.
If a job is available elsewhere for Scott Gordon, he should be let out of his contract immediately. If one is available here, and he wants it, he should be retained.
Put no stock on players invited to draft party who are UFA, some can be retained, others let go.
The silence is deafening out of Atlanta and very sad for their fans. If ASG can own and pay for the Hawks, they can pay for and operate the Thrashers, it's not the NHL's call until they have a sale to approve or reject.

Bill Daly's comment about Seattle were unexpected for a deputy commissioner who is usually guarded with his statements.
Tsn.ca: Absolutely hit a home run adding former referee, Kerry Fraser. His work is fresh, ground-breaking and comes from a hockey viewpoint few can relate to. I loved his story about Al Arbour and every entry is very good where we learn things.

No, that site does not have hockey centric rss and badly needs a redesign.

Tsn.ca: On the other side of that coin is Scott Cullen, who refused to acknowledge the Islanders 600+ man games lost to injury when we discussed them, but defended the Blues, John Davidson for not spending and cited injury several times when going through players.

NYIFC Comments:
All I ever ask is the playing field be level for all teams in viewpoints. If Scott Cullen wants to do thirty team reviews and he writes the Islanders season was over by the time Andrew MacDonald got hurt, of course I'm going to point out the club was 4-1-2, in first place when he got hurt in October.

If that bothers him to where he is defensive about it, that says something about his viewpoint not being informed, fair or objective.


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Doug Weight Announces Retirement, Senior Advisor & Assistant Coach?

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/26/2011 11:51:00 AM | |||||Comments

The Islanders website live streamed the press conference, it will be made available later in full with Doug Weight, Garth Snow, and Charles Wang's comments.

Former Captain Bill Guerin was in attendance with many of the current players.

Islanders website: Report Islanders Captain Doug Weight has announced his retirement as a player and will remain in the organization as an Assistant Coach and Senior Advisor to the General Manager.

“It was an honor to be a member of the NHL for the 19 years I laced up my skates,” Weight said. “I have a lifetime of memories from playing this game and cherish them all. I am excited to begin this next phase of my professional career and help the Islanders continue to climb the ladder to winning the Stanley Cup.”

“Doug is the ultimate leader,” said Islanders General Manager Garth Snow. “He has taken our young core of players, over the past three years, and helped elevate their game to a point where we now see our franchise competing with the top teams in the league. On behalf of the organization, I’d like to thank Doug for his commitment to the New York Islanders and we are excited to have him join our Hockey Operations Department in seeing through with our goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”

Islanders website: Released an article with comments from John Tavares, Travis Hamonic, Josh Bailey and separate features where former Islander Bill Guerin, and several past teammates over his playing career along with honoring families efforts in community.

Per Brian Compton's twitter: Weight will be behind the bench for every game next season. Snow clarified he is not replacing Scott Allen or Dean Chynoweth.

NYIFC Comments:
Today is the time to praise Doug Weight for an outstanding career. Obviously the future leaders of this team by their own words/actions have nothing but respect for Weight, his continued role will be an asset to the players and staff.

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Kyle Okposo Signs Five Year Contract Extension

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/25/2011 05:09:00 PM | ||Comments

Islanders website: Report Kyle Okposo has been signed to a five year contract extension, with comments from General Manager Garth Snow.

NYIFC Comments:
Will be interesting to see if Okposo's deal is backloaded as Grabner's was. Either way another in a long-ling of classy/quiet negotiations from this general manager.

Do not read a great deal into the players invited to the draft party (announced on teams website) who are unrestricted free agents.

The long spring continues Thursday with Doug Weight's 11am press conference.

Casey Cizikas/St Michaels Major have their finals rematch Wednesday night at Memorial Cup with his signing deadline 5/31.

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5/24 (now 5/31) Only One Of Many Critical Steps For New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/23/2011 07:36:00 PM | |||Comments
Updated 2:15
Apparently this must be in legislature for seven days before any vote can be taken so change all dates to 5/31.

UNH Wildcats: Report Islander prospect Blake Kessel has decided to forego his senior season to play professionally. Kessel was a sixth-round pick in the 2007 National Hockey League entry draft.

NYIFC Comments:
To best of my knowledge he can also go UFA thirty days after submitting a letter declaring his intention to turn professional via Blake Wheeler route. Is his pro cache that good or are the Islanders going to announce his signing?

To correct an earlier tweet or blog, only first round picks signing elsewhere via Blake Wheeler rule bring a compensatory pick. Gregiore, Kessel sign elsewhere after thirty days Islanders receive nothing as compensation.

Cablevision's Newspaper gave George J. Marlin, a director of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority Authority three pages Monday night to write about these projects basically not making money.

Regarding Monday's events at the Coliseum color me apathetic, but less so than our so-called television partner and Newspaper carrier.

Islanders used their only media resource available that they own and that was the teams website.

Ironic to learn Tom Gulotta's 1996-98 Goodwill Games Swimming Pool that could have bought out Smg long ago needs another thirty million or so of repairs.

We are all going through these machinations on 5/24 (the 31st Anniversary of New York's First Stanley Cup) 5/31 and perhaps later on August 1st because Ed Mangano would not put himself on the line for the New York Islanders.

NYIFC 5/11 entry Press Conference Over: Mangano Takes Easy Way Out On NYI Future no point being repetitive.

Mangano if he was doing his job could have saved Wang and/or taxpayers election money, a ton of drama and future rallies, by simply announcing that he, Wang, Legislators, NIFA, TOH, Nassau were meeting until an agreement was hammered out even if it meant locking everyone in a room.

That's how it's going to play out if it clears Tuesday, August 1st and the legislature a second time in August begging the question why not just get to that point now because the Coliseum must be renovated or replaced.

I believe that's how it will go even if 5/31 legislature vote fails or at some future point.

Tuesday Charles Wang, Garth Snow are expected to speak, if the vote fails on 5/31
you can bet Wang finally will be forced to play hardball as was done in Edmonton, Pittsburgh and issue threats.

Our fans are going to have to deal with that and I suspect Wang will be forced not to pull punches.

My take is it's sad our fans again have to be dragged to more rallies, they are tired and worn down from this fight between meetings, focus groups, rallies for well over a decade.

Ed Mangano made it necessary to take this route.
You can bet Charles Wang is tired too.

If it does fail 5/31 I expect (after a lot of yelling) an eventual agreement will be done without a referendum at some future point, but even if there is an approval on 5/31 for an August vote we will all get a good idea how many legislators were ready to kill this at step one.

NHL.com reports Doug Weight will have an 11am press conference on Thursday, where it's likely he will announce his retirement.

NYIFC Comments:
I don't wish to minimize Doug Weight's announcement at this time with comment.

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Islander Notables

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/22/2011 12:19:00 PM | Comments

A little 1980 celebration header for 5/24.

Quiet Sunday (Casey Cizikas at Memorial Cup) before the latest spam storm of negative local Coliseum coverage, sure seems anything positive receives only a sentence or two?

As usual, New York Islander Championship history this time of year just becomes a story-line of every Stanley Cup Playoff nationally, just not in New York.

A history that really no team outside of Montreal comes close to, from comebacks, to the great players/games/records set.

The New York Islanders are New York's Championship Hockey tradition, greatest American NHL dynasty, arguably the greatest dynasty in NHL history.

They set the standard.

In baseball city USA, that does not count for much. In Pittsburgh, it means Bryan Trottier receives an interview today (see twitter feed) because there is no longer a baseball season in Pittsburgh.
Starting to get foolish reading non-sense about how the Islanders should unload Nabokov to another team automatically when the question should be about the best goaltender starting here.

If Nabokov is supposedly the Flyers goaltending answer he should be the answer here.

Of course, the reality is right now Nabokov is a significant step lower than Biron was when he signed here from Philadelphia. He had a brutal summer last year, San Jose dumped him, he priced himself out of the NHL, then ran away from a signed contract in Europe and did not report when claimed off waivers. Frankly by his own admission he was not ready to play or in condition or knew who was calling him when he was claimed on waivers.

His brief WC performance and subsequent injury did nothing to change any perception about his last year being the exception.

Having written all this there is just as good a chance Nabokov comes in, wins the starting job and resigns here. It's never as personal as some make it out to be until the team, player or agent say so. Nabokov wanted a chance to play for a club in contention and for all his statements he also made clear it was not personal against the NY Islanders.

Next season this club has every chance to be in contention with Nabokov starting or any of the other five goaltenders.
I have nothing but great things to write about Steve Yzerman, who grew up following Bryan Trottier, wanted his number and has been a class act his entire career.

That written please stop selling us any concept that Roloson, Bergenheim, Thompson, or MA Bergeron are star players Steve Yzerman identified with some kind of incredible management skill.

MA Bergeron's great pp shot produced 6g/21pts/23games when Garth Snow brought him here. Without him the Islanders do not make the 2007 playoffs and that trade was made at a point Bergeron had far greater potential. He always seems to end up in the playoffs on a teams backline, plays a big part in that clubs success and then moves on because his defensive play outweighs his great shot.

Dwayne Roloson/Bergenheim numbers were better here than in Tampa before the playoffs. I'm thrilled for all of them including Nate Thompson, Eric Brewer, Wayne Flemming and would love to see them win the Stanley Cup together.

Whether they do or not can the rhetoric please be toned down just a bit because Yzerman did not rob Snow. Roloson took Edmonton to a final, he was a quality goaltender in several places and everyone who followed the Islanders the last two years knew he would help whatever team he went to.

Ty Wishart is a first round pick with some ability, who looked good here.

Point is it should not be a winner/loser thing with this kind of trade.
For those scoring at home the three hundred or so Atlanta fans that turned up for a last minute fan rally Saturday to support the club was about two hundred plus more than those who showed up for a month long organized Ranger fan rally (on a game day) to show support for firing Glen Sather.

Kind of like during the lockout you would see all the media in NYC from Canada covering meetings packed in streets, while NYC media ignored it entirely.
The reality of Atlanta-Winnipeg is simply this.

Will NHL BOG (board of governors/team owners) want to quickly replace the ASG ownership with one that have not reportedly been vetted financially to make extra revenue if two outside parties make a sale agreement?

We saw this game with John Spano, who was lining up to purchase Dallas, Florida and was never checked out financially when he closed a sale here.

This is not Gary Bettman's call, who serves the BOG, not the Canadian media with their own agenda.

My preference (which means nothing) is the BOG forces ASG to either file bankruptcy or continue a search for local ownership during the next year, not dump a modern building in a strong TV market, which has not had a fair chance to see a winning product.
Those who believe Wang, Vanderbeek, ask their television partner to hide their teams off television all summer raise your hands?
Has Ed Snider re-branded OLN/Versus to be called Flyers plus with NBC to be called Flyers+2?

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Wang Will Have To Start Threatening Soon

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/20/2011 08:25:00 AM | ||Comments
The public meeting will be May 24th regarding Nassau Hub for those with long memories of what that date means in team history.

Political Football 101.

It's time for little hardball.

NYIFC blog entry 7/2010 has Oilers owner playing hardball and now he has a framework for his new arena where taxpayers will contribute without any referendum vote.

At the time I wrote it will go there for Wang sooner or later.

First things first. The New York Islanders should publicly request every Nassau/TOH member of their legislatures (including NIFA) purchase full season tickets for the 2011-12 season and donate the tickets to charity if they cannot attend the games themselves. If there is a draft party they should be in attendance to show their pride for the local team.

The players go above and beyond to make appearances, the teams local politicians should do like-wise wearing New York Islander colors.

It's also long overdue Charles Wang talks about how much he has spent on hockey players (whether they worked out or not) for a team that had a 14m dollar payroll under Howard Milstein. That he was a man with no hockey background in a rich community where a generation of people saw arguably the greatest team in league history and did nothing to purchase it.

That he was the one who brought the alumni back several times and respected the teams past by hiring several former players or retaining many before his tenure.

That he was the one to settle all litigation with Smg, that he was the person who saved another Islander-related franchise that Roy Boe could not pay the bills for and gave this franchise an AHL affiliate after years or sharing.

That he/and or Scott Rechler currently running the Coliseum was no parting gift, handed down from Tom Suozzi, it came with a 17mil price tag on top of millions spent on Lighthouse development.

That he has been the teams most visible owner in New York Islander history, and in the community when previous owners did nothing.

He also has to continue to hammer point he had done several times during Lighthouse discussions, that this is doing something for future generations.

Going back to the politicians, the token lip-service for the hockey team and it's history is included at some point but it's never the headline or close. Time for these politicians to get the message the hockey team comes first after four decades and a billion or two of revenue they have generated for Nassau County.

Simply put from previous entries, it's all been political football and the comments are running as they did a decade ago from politicians/organizations. Too many again see dollar signs for their own interest with the hockey team running a distant fourth or why not wait longer.

There are one or two folks that lost the property MOU to Wang-Rechler bid also back in 2005, who want those doors opened again.

Some would likely want the Coliseum gone so they can get their entire development on that site. Of course TOH/Nassau would never agree to any other private proposal either which they would quickly discover.

Even if Wang agreed to build a new arena out of pocket entirely, there would be politicians or other interests coming out who would demand something out of it without contributing anything.

We also all know the local paper has nothing to gain from a new Nassau Coliseum and conflicts their own vested interest, so you will get a steady diet of bad economic news, some politicians will want more waiting which we have been reading or hearing since the mid-90's.

They are not going to provide the media pep-rallies Edmonton and Pittsburgh did for their agreements.

One thing I can guarantee is it's going to get ugly very fast if a vote is killed before it happens. Charles Wang is going to have to start taking some of those tantrums Daryl Katz did in Edmonton and pointing out what he has done with no help.
You could see this coming from a mile away.

Dick Ebersol was not going to take marching orders from Ed Snider/Comcast-Flyers now that they control NBC.

Ebersol resigned Thursday here and, no it was not only because Snider's Flyers will likely host or participate in five out of the ten outdoors games in next ten years while they have the NBC contract.

NHL hockey likely ranked low on Ebersol's list of reasons for leaving.

Bottom line, it's Ed Snider's way or no way, Comcast now runs NBC. Ebersol's ego cannot handle that as Chairman of NBC Sports.

Let's see what ties Comcast replacement has to an NHL team or if Sam Flood (Ebersol's #1 hockey man) is allowed to sit at the grown-ups table or simply parrot Snider's NHL Flyer demands.

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Montoya Surgery, Jason Gregoire Going Blake Wheeler Route

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/19/2011 05:38:00 AM | |Comments

Islanders website reported goaltender Al Montoya underwent successful surgery last week to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He was hurt during the World Hockey Championships while playing for Team USA, but the club expects him to be ready for training camp.

NYIFC Comments:
Rick DiPietro may go into camp the healthiest of any goaltender in the organization with Montoya, Poulin, Koskinen coming off surgery and Nilsson perhaps not signing by deadline. I do not discount any alternative but if Nilsson is signed there is no spot for Nate Lawson who is UFA.

Too many injured goaltenders/or potential injuries with questions marks combined with spotty play and inexperience.

Islanders website also reported prospect Jason Gregiore decided to forgo his senior year at the University of North Dakota, opting to turn pro next season via the Blake Wheeler route here.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio reports via Grand Forks Herald that Gregoire will take advantage of a loophole in the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows him to become a free agent 30 days after withdrawing from school if not signed by the team that drafted him.

“I hold the Islanders in the highest regard, who won’t ink a contract until July. “In no way, shape or form have I ruled them out. I just don’t have all of the information right now to make a decision.

“I think very highly of them and they think the same of me. They know what’s going to happen as far as me keeping my options open. We’ll talk some more. If they are the best option, I will go with them.”

NYIFC Comments:
The archives in early May here had articles on Gregiore perhaps leaving school to sign with the Islanders.

This is the first time I have seen this scenario pop-up with an Islanders prospect, who is apparently going the Blake Wheeler route which means he's testing free agency and not signing with the Islanders before any deadline. I expect the Islanders website to report all information and read little into them reporting this.

Based on his production, there is a good chance there will be competition for his services. Anything can happen but expect a good chance Gregoire signs elsewhere with Moulson, Grabner, Martin locked up on left wing and Comeau coming off back to back twenty goal seasons. Sure there are spots on wing at Bridgeport.

If he cannot be signed there will be a compensatory pick awarded.

The clock is running on Casey Cizikas.

Oilers website: Reports the Edmonton City Council approved the framework for a new arena deal in Edmonton where the city says the deal will keep the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL in the city for 35 years.

The arena will cost $450 million, with the city providing $125 million, the Katz Group paying $100 million and $125 million coming from a user-paid facility fee.

NYIFC Comments:
No public referendum was required in Edmonton for the city to pay 125m, but here political by-partisan football. Nassau can always simply skip the public referendum vote, save the taxpayers the 2m cost and just hammer out an agreement? But that would mean working together for the good of the hockey team.

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New York Islanders Will Never Leave New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/16/2011 01:53:00 AM | Comments

I have no doubt the usual media suspects, who can barely follow their own teams without tons of mistakes will go into full Phoenix-Atlanta-Pittsburgh mode if a voter referendum/Nassau legislature/NIFA board kills the latest plan at some point.

The New York Islanders do not have a media to counter it.

This is not Comcast where Flyers owner, Ed Snider tells Tim Panaccio to jump for CSN, and he responds how high? After that Snider calls up Dick Ebersol, who finally has a boss over at NBC and tells him that my Comcast Flyers are hosting the outdoor game.

It's not Pittsburgh, where the 10,000 a game Pens had the Post-Gazette/Tribune Review rally around the club and deflect some of the outside rhetoric.

Having written this, it's what many are paid for, to get attention.

Unless it's their team or their job at stake with advertising revenue from that team on the line from their employer, then the glass has to be kept filled because it's bad for business.

It's why criticism of Rogers Sportsnet will be muted/silenced about firing Damian Goddard, or why the reaction about Espn conduct regarding Matthew Barnaby from any NHL related outlet's or employees will be guarded/muted from folks that need future NHL jobs and have executives following every tweet.

You speak out it goes on the resume for life.

For the New York Islanders a rejection/setback is going to be a distraction that hangs over the team into the season like never before and a fan-base that reads a lot of unfair commentary will be subjected to even more. This is something Wang has always offset (even the summer Neil Smith was fired with moves that made for a playoff team) but this time he likely will not be able to. The questions from a hostile/peripheral local media that does not need the New York Islanders are not going to go away.

Wang has no paper or television station to market his team or his message.

Will the New York Islanders leave New York?
No, as I wrote Sunday, I see an initial rejection of this plan, but the framework for the eventual compromise that will produce a final agreement will emerge. Nassau/TOH/Legislature/NIFA cannot be humiliated by a closed Nassau Coliseum or the potential loss of it's only sports team, and subsequent revenue even if this is done beyond the term of Mangano/NIFA members and some legislators.

Pass, and it will get built. Fail, it will produce the ground work for what will be passed.

Charles Wang's hotel is not going anywhere, which is another reason he is never moving inside NYC limits as long as he owns this franchise. He also has his/Rechler agreement with Smg to run the Coliseum until 2015, he made clear he is honoring his lease. He also now is operating the Sound Tigers arena in Bridgeport who's team has a lease until 2021 that was recently announced and that facility is being renovated.

The CBA is ending, he might finally receive revenue sharing, there is more cable contract money as years/dollars go up and the new Comcast/NBC agreement.

The Current Islander Roster:
Four year contracts are a life-time in this NHL for many players. The large majority of players here now would be gone when a new building opens regardless aside from a select few, but we are talking future star players who receive those kinds of agreements.

A little reality that I touched on the other day.
Charles Wang's tenure as owner is winding down regardless of what happens with the Nassau Coliseum unless he intends to do what a Bill Davidson did in Tampa/Detroit.

Perhaps he will hang in owning the franchise, but that's not the norm.

Unless he plans on keeping the club within his family, or is able to sell it to a group within his inner circle of advisers, it is later in his life with this new Coliseum (if agreed to as proposed) not opening until likely after he turns seventy.

Mr Wang will not be around when bonds have to be paid back, it's like looking back to 1976 Giants Stadium (the other day I wrote bonds were still owed/they were forgiven with losses written off) someone else will be on the hook.

Anyone really think Charles Wang wants to be known as the last owner of this franchise after all he has gone through now for a decade? To say nothing of the teams cable contract and Nassau's basic need to come to an agreement to replace a facility that must be replaced combined with a hotel he just bought from Scott Rechler?

You can believe what you wish, the New York Islanders are never leaving New York.
* Unless Pat Bingham's successor is working for an organization still playing it's time for Garth Snow to find the Bridgeport Sound Tigers a head coach.

Maybe the Islanders really like Matt Bertani, who's been a long-time assistant or are giving Doug Weight or Mark Wotton time to decide their playing careers? Call it unconventional, but if Scott Gordon wanted the job, I would do it in a minute and bring in his former assistant, Rob Murray to go with Bertani.

* I'm not sure if Gordon is going to land another NHL job this summer or wind up as an assistant. Another club would be smart to give him an opportunity he never had here with a healthy team.

* Color me fascinated if the Islanders back-loaded Graber's contract, it's not the norm to my knowledge.

* Two weeks and Casey Cizikas can re-enter the draft. His team Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors are hosting the Memorial Cup and just lost game seven. In short Memorial Cup is QMJHL/OHL/WHL champs playing one host team. Do the Islanders sign him early or see if he does not get injured?

This is a prospect that needs to be signed.

* If Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (as host team) had won game seven the team they were defeated by would still be included.

* That World Championships sure must have Islander fans thrilled about their goaltending, both got hurt, both struggled. Anders Nilsson at least (reportedly) was not hurt as third goaltender for Sweden.

Cheer up, the Islanders have at least five goaltenders better than the Flyers and that does not even include former goalies Scott Munroe or Biron. The rub on how bad media coverage is all those who ignored Nabokov's body of work in Slovakia, still rumor him to Philadelphia?

That only begs the question if he is THE answer for the Flyers, why not make him THE answer here?

* I cannot see Gary Bettman abandoning Atlanta, but this is not Phoenix and not his (or BOG call) unless the Atlanta Spirit Group files bankruptcy and the league is placed in control of the teams future. I have no doubt the BOG if they had a say would like a nice franchise relocation fee of 60m.

Atlanta has not had a fair chance yet to create a winning team in a modern building and has outdrawn many so-called big markets. (including the NY Islanders)

The Atlanta Hawks are not the Thrashers/Flames and not rumored for relocation. If these teams have same owner (Atlanta Spirit Group) why would that group break them up when together both would bring in more money?

* Going to be fun watching Mike Illitch/Little Caesars Red try to bully their way back into the Eastern Conference over Columbus if any franchise moves do happen.

* Anyone believe there is one media person around the NHL that wants to lose two trips in winter to Florida, even if the Panthers go thirty years between playoffs?

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New York Islander Fan Central | 5/15/2011 01:38:00 AM | Comments

I'm sure after the Coliseum Press Conference you have a lot of questions.
NYIFC can provide the rough sketches and the landscape. This is a hockey blog, not a political blog.

NYIFC Overview:
As written in Pt One the contention/politics between both sides is as poor as you can imagine. Charles Wang stepped into a disaster. If Scott Rechler is not involved neither will his or RXR spending/development/borrowing ability.

Every local stadium/arena project came in hundreds of millions above original estimate.

Prudential Arena (New Jersey Devils)
Built: 2007
Estimated Cost: $310 million
Final Cost: $467.5 million
Public Financing: $311.5

Ed Mangno's administration in late January 2011 had NIFA take over administration of Nassau's finances here.

As of May 2nd, NIFA executive director, Evan Cohen, had the following: "County officials are telling vendors that they are not being paid because of NIFA's involvement in Nassau's finances."

NYIFC Comments:
So these are the people who are going to work together to approve this referendum after all that has transpired when it's this personal and vindictive? And that's IF these votes happen AND approval is given via public referendum AND somehow thirteen out of nineteen in legislature approve what the public approved?

Charles Wang must feel like a human hockey puck being slapped around between the Republicans and Democrats depending on what party is behind or against the latest Coliseum plan, now NIFA may go after Wang because this is a Mangano project?

About the only good news I can give you is NIFA has some of it's meetings at Charles Wang's Marriott Hotel next to the Coliseum as late as April 2011, they must know the Coliseum/Islander circumstances and what has transpired.

NIFA and Nassau Legislature, regardless of party must have some clue, this building at some point in the near future has to be replaced or given a massive renovation regardless of cost or politics?

First Things First:
The first question should be what is NIFA or Nassau Interim Finance Authority that will be the final word and ultimately approve or reject what Ed Mangano put up for referendum if it receives the public and Nassau Legislature support?

The picture (left) is from Peter's Schmidt's press conference (video below) about NIFA that barely stopped short of calling them criminals.

The Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) was created by the New York State Legislature as a fiscal watchdog in June 2000, following Nassau County's fiscal crisis and $105 million bailout by New York State.

NIFA's primary responsibility is to monitor and oversee the County's finances, but it also has the power to issue bonds and notes for various purposes, including the refinancing of Nassau County's debt. The group also issues reports on the County's proposed and adopted budgets and multi-year financial plans.

The seven-member board is appointed by the Governor and has members recommended by the Senate Majority Leader, the Assembly Speaker and the State Comptroller.

NIFA Board Members:

1-Ronald A. Stack - Chairman and Director
Mr. Stack was appointed to the NIFA Board by Governor Pataki on June 27, 2000. He was reappointed as Chairman on November 6, 2008. His current term expires on December 31, 2012.

2-George J. Marlin - Director
Mr. Marlin was appointed to the NIFA Board by Governor Paterson upon the recommendation from the Majority Leader of the Senate on June 9, 2010. His current term expires on December 31, 2013.

3-Leonard D. Steinman - Director
Mr. Steinman was appointed to the NIFA Board by Governor Paterson on June 15, 2010. His current term expires on December 31, 2012.

4-Thomas W. Stokes - Director
Mr. Stokes was appointed to the NIFA Board by Governor Paterson on June 15, 2010. His current term expires on December 31, 2010.

5-Robert A. Wild - Director
Mr. Wild was appointed to the NIFA Board by Governor Paterson on June 15, 2010. His current term expires on December 31, 2010.

6-Christopher P. Wright - Director
Mr. Wright was appointed to the NIFA Board by Governor Spitzer upon the recommendation from NYS Comptroller DiNapoli on September 24, 2007. He was re-appointed, again on the recommendation of Comptroller DiNapoli, by Governor Paterson on June 15, 2010. His current term expires on December 31, 2013.

I can also write the NIFA website itself is about as outdated as the Professional Hockey Writers Association's and do not even update the profiles of the people appointed who's terms were due to expire in December 2010 but are still there, currently there are only six serving.

NYIFC Comments:
NIFA (above) ironically was formed because of former County Executive Republican, Tom Gulotta's financial mismanagement in the first place, while he did all he could to prevent any Coliseum proposal from getting done with his actions.

So obviously this committee has a heavy democratic tie to the Suozzi administration that lost to Ed Mangano, and now in January 2011 took over the County's finances because Mangano has picked up where Tom Gulotta left off in terms of financial management.

Mangano threatened a lawsuit at the time here because of the takeover and then there is long-time Majority Leader, Peter Schmitt (R) of Massapequa, who has accused the NIFA board members of having partisan Democratic sympathies despite a unanimous vote to take control of the county finances.

You cannot make this stuff up:

The Nassau County Legislature:
A majority out of this nineteen member legislature will have to approve an 8/1 election before a referendum vote can even happen. We have no idea when date that will be decided upon at this time.

No majority, game over before a voter referendum is even scheduled for 8/1, the fighting on the cost of that already has NIFA-Mangano's Nassau bickering.

Nassau County Legislature
Eleven Republicans/Eight Democrats.

For now let's identify those players in the legislature.
Kevan Abrahams Democrat
Robert Troiano Democrat
John Ciotti Republican
Denise Ford Republican
Joseph Scannell Democrat
Francis X. Becker, Jr. Republican
Howard Kopel Republican
Vincent Muscarella Republican
Richard Nicolello Republican
Judi Bosworth Democrat
Wayne H. Wink, Jr. Democrat
Peter J. Schmitt, presiding officer Republican
Norma L. Gonsalves Republican
Joseph V. Belesi Republican
Dennis Dunne, Sr. Republican
Judith Jacobs Democrat
Rose Marie Walker Republican
Diane Yatauro, minority leader Democrat
David Denenberg Democrat

1-If a majority of the Nassau County Legislature (11 vs 8 Republican advantage) approve an August 1st Vote it will be placed on the ballot.

2-If a referendum is approved by the voters on 8/1, then thirteen of those nineteen members must approve what the voters approved.

3-Finally there is NIFA with six members and one spot to be filled, it is unknown what constitutes approval from that group of six with one vacancy.

Many Islander fans outside the political process but with long memories may remember some of the legislature names over the years with their constant flip-flopping depending on whether a Republican or Democrat are the County Exec and what party backs the proposal for the Coliseum as they supported Wang/Rechler, Howard Milstein, Steven Gluckstern, Charles Koppelman or Bob Gutkowski.

Democrat Judy Jacobs in those days used to be pro Coliseum, blasting Republican Tom Gulotta, along with another old name, Democrat David Deneberg, who used to blast Republican inaction/TOH on the Coliseum issue. Jacobs dropped off the map during the Lighthouse for the most part, where will she stand now on a Coliseum vote if it requires democratic support vote for a Republican County Exec? Mr Denenberg is already playing blame game and wondering why public is now stuck with paying after Wang-Rechler would have with LH?

But for NIFA/Republican Nassau/Democratic Legislature, that's entirely how it's going so far. Combined with the usual this is not the time rhetoric we have been reading for twenty years as the Coliseum approaches it's 40th year?

Bottom Line:
It's about as absurd and rough as any New York Islander fan can expect who has followed this nightmare since the mid-90's as New York Islander owners came and went with their proposals.

Between lawsuits, scoreboard hoists, constructive eviction threats with Smg's deal until 2015 to run the Coliseum which Wang (and/or) Rechler paid 17m to manage starting in 2010 before Mangano came in, does anything ever happen?

The New York Islanders never seem to be priority, it's always political football, our fans (and owners) always placed in the middle.

Given what I have posted it's painfully obvious these folks are not going to work together because of party politics. Sound familiar?

I hope I'm wrong. Even if a referendum passed in a public vote as Charles Wang said during LH meetings, it's not a Suozzi Democtatic project or a Republican project.

Speculation On What Will happen:
I expect this to be rejected in 2011 but ultimately it will be the framework for what finally will be approved.

Nassau politicians cannot afford a vacated Coliseum in disrepair closed or tax dollars and jobs lost. NIFA knows that also.

You will get a ton of this is the end for the Islanders in Nassau articles when it is rejected, it will serve as what will force true pressure to get something approved like it has everywhere.

Charles Wang's hotel cannot move, it's his. The cable contract until 2030 is not relocating outside of NY area unless Dolan pays him near a billion dollars for everything to get that property and television contract bought out.

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New York Islander Fan Central | 5/13/2011 10:58:00 PM | Comments

I'm working on my blog entry regarding the working relation between Ed Mangano's Nassau County and what NIFA is all about, frankly speaking think of Wang/Rechler vs Murray at their absolute worst days x 100.

Not even Howard Milstein vs Tom Gulotta/Smg during time they tried to take Islanders out of Nassau Coliseum for scoreboard hoists at their worst even come close.

It's that bad from my research the last few days. Charles Wang walked into a disaster between these two entities and it's as political as it gets.

Friday's Update:
NIFA (Nassau Interim Finance Authority) is criticizing the cost of a special election between 800k and 2m depending on who's spin with democrats opposed to Mangano. Apparently the agreement is Wang will pay for election only if the referendum is approved which is unheard of based on what I have read.

Deputy County Executive Tim Sullivan said Friday in a letter to NIFA Deputy County Executive Tim Sullivan that the Islanders and the county would hammer out a contract in the next month and would release financial details on costs and revenue by mid-June.

NIFA board member George Marlin Friday called Sullivan's response "sophomoric" and argued that publicly financed stadiums have been historically "great for the owners but bad for the taxpayers."

"They want to stick the taxpayers with $400 million in debt without providing an economic analysis, a feasibility study, a cost analysis, no figures in terms of the sharing of fees and no environmental impact study," Marlin said. "They went public with this without the facts."

Said Mangano in response: "George Marlin is entitled to his opinion and the voters are entitled to have their voices heard."

PT Two will be blog entry that will be released Sunday on background of NIFA/Nassau County Legislature and how poor things are between these two entities.

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New York Islander Fan Central | 5/13/2011 12:47:00 PM | Comments
All Google/Blogger issues have been resolved, all Wednesday messages restored in order and time frame intended.

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