Friday, October 26, 2012

1088 Go Islanders!

1088 Go Islanders!

Nassau County, New York has always been the poster child for inept.  And multimillionaire Charles Wang is more Boris Badinov than Dudley Do-Right.  Put these things together in a room and what do you get?  Nothing.

Wang has owned the hapless New York Islanders of the National Hockey League since 2000.  And for most of that time, he has been trying to (a) restore the team to its serial Stanley Cup glory days and (b) fix or replace its home, the shabby and deteriorating Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  Nothing.

Wang proposed a mammoth building project on the former Mitchel Air Force Base, now home to part of Hofstra University, Nassau Community College and said Coliseum.  This got knocked down by officials of the county and its dominant internal Town of Hempstead.  Next came a proposed bond issue for an updated Coliseum.   The voters rightly handed what passes for leadership a strong message: “we’re already pedal to the metal on the highway to bankruptcy -- forget about it.”  

As the brilliant minds of Nassau and Hempstead rested to get ready for their next screwup, Wang took his puck and went to Brooklyn.  So the Isles will play in the new Barclay’s Center starting with the 2015-16 season, joining the New York-then-New Jersey-now Brooklyn Nets of the NBA in a small but snazzy venue.

How much revenue is this going to cost cash-strapped Nassau?  Estimates run as high as $250 million a year.  Plus a loss of jobs.  Plenty of jobs.

And assuming that the NHL doesn’t go out of business, which is not impossible, the Islanders may be getting the shot in the arm they need to remember the long-forgotten first rule of hockey:  Get that funny-looking, round black thing on the ice into that great big net.  It’s not that complicated, boys.

Shrapnel:

--Chinese lesson:  The “a” in “Wang” is pronounced like the “a” in “what,” but sounds like “Wong” to most American ears.  The “o” in “Wong” is pronounced like the “o” in “Wong,” but the sound comes from farther back on the hard palate, giving it a slightly different tone for which there is no English notation.

--The original Islanders were formed from a core of players from the Long Island Ducks of the Eastern Hockey League, which played in the corrugated sheet metal ice box called the Long Island Arena in Commack.  Guys like Brophy and Actimachuck used to hang out at Kelly’s Saloon on Vets Highway.  The Ducks were fun.  And generous.

--The Brooklyn Nets of the NBA had been the New Jersey Nets and before that the New York Nets of the ABA and played in a quonset hut in West Hempstead. They were no fancier than the Ducks but for the presence of one Julius Erving.  And no one froze at a Nets game, then or ever after.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

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