Mike Sielski of the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece yesterday you won’t want to miss called “Cutting a Star Out of the Picture.” It’s about the great Pat LaFontaine, and the New York Islanders determination to whitewash his contributions to the franchise from all memory.

The New York Islanders are a part of my own history, so I take this affront personally. I’m aware that they’ve been as bad as any organization out there for quite some time now (cellar-year after cellar-year, spending to the salary floor, Nassau Coliseum in general), but this is a new type of embarrassing. Charles Wang seems content to play around with his fun little organization like it’s some toy, or more accurately, like he’s a 10 year-old boy pulling the legs off an insect for kicks. I want him to find something else to destroy.

Pat LaFontaine spent eight years with the New York Islanders. Over those years, he scored 566 points, including 287 goals, good enough for 6th and 5th all-time on Islanders career totals lists (BTW, I’m quite proud of my Pops location on most of those lists - he was pretty okay, apparently).

As Sielski points out, we’re now a mere two weeks from the 25th anniversary of one of the biggest goals in Islanders history, the “Easter Epic” where LaFontaine put the Washington Capitals away in the fourth overtime of Game 7 of the Patrick Division semi-final in ’87. It was nearly 2 a.m. when that damn puck finally went in the net to make it 3-2 Isles.

Since then, he’s been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (1,013 points in a concussion-shortened career of 865 games), taken up coaching the Long Island Royals youth hockey team, and has become one of the most charitable men on the Island, where he resides. I’ve personally encountered a total of zero people with negative things to say about him, and quite frankly, he’s one of the nicest men I’ve had the privilege to meet.

And the Islanders are trying to pretend he never existed? Way to pick your spots.

If you remember back before the Garth Snow era, Neil Smith was hired as team’s GM (June of 2006), and LaFontaine took an unpaid - remember that part, unpaid – role as senior advisor. When Wang wanted to fire newly-hired Neil Smith after just six weeks, LaFontaine used his position as advisor, and adamantly recommended that Wang keep Smith. He wasn’t successful (highlighting the fact that his role as “advisor” didn’t carry any weight), so he resigned just hours later, not in defense of Smith, but because he didn’t like the direction Wang wanted to take the franchise.

Wang then hired backup goalie (like, actual backup goalie at the time) Garth Snow to be the team’s GM. Zero experience. Pulled from the pipes, placed in the office. They finished fourth in the Atlantic that year, and have since finished last, last, last and last in the division. You don’t need me to draw a graph to imagine what that plot line would look like. I bet they wish they had someone to advise them now.

(By the way, here’s Mike Milbury’s quote on LaFontaine’s decision to step down from an unpaid role in a toxic situation: “Pat ran for the hills. Pat ran for cover. “It was cowardly, and it was terrible. And if Charles was [ticked], I wouldn’t blame him in the least.“)

This is a major problem in New York - Wang wants to be the GM. To fire someone after six weeks, you have to believe he didn’t like some decisions Smith was going to make, so he wanted to replace him with someone he could exert more influence on (that’s strictly my opinion, by the way). That’s a team “direction” that’d cause me to step down too.

It’s the Islanders “40th anniversary season,” so before every game they show a highlight package of The Glory Days, when the Islanders competed for Stanley Cups, or at the very least, competed - only they show no LaFontaine. The Islanders have a team Hall of Fame that inducted my father in 2005. This year they inducted Kenny Jonsson – to reiterate, despite being in the HOCKEY Hall of Fame, the Islanders have yet to induct LaFontaine. The Buffalo Sabres have already retired his number.

The public face slaps have been relentless. When LaFontaine and Steve Webb biked 550 miles for charity, the Isles website wrote about it. Except…they never mentioned LaFontaine on the website, just Webb. And the Islanders confirmed that this happened for the Wall Street Journal story, which explains all of this far better than I can.

And worst of all was when Brian Burke and LaFontaine were going to meet at an Isles game to discuss some joint charity work, the Isles denied – fucking DENIED – Pat LaFontaine a credential. The Islanders denied Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine a credential, If I may be so bold. So, Brian Burke left him a ticket, LaFontaine showed up for the meeting, and has never set foot in Nassau Coliseum since.

It shouldn’t be hard for anyone in Islanders PR to understand what a nightmare these decisions have been. This is not how you run a class organization, which the Islanders have been in the past. When my Dad was inducted, they treated me extraordinarily well. But somewhere around, oh, 2006, things really went off the rails. They may look better on the ice after Snow signed the kids to great contracts, but the team is still a dog and pony show off it.

My biggest beef is with Wang. I like the team on the ice. If Snow were allowed to spend, I have no doubt he could fill in some quality talent around the main puzzle pieces and make a picture (as I mentioned, his recent contract signings have been great). He’s just not allowed. Wang won’t spend. Instead, both Wang and Snow have conspired to run good people out of the building, media, ex-players and fans. They push Isles propaganda, but it comes off more as “Kim Jong Il had 11 holes-in-one en route to shooting 38 under” than anything else. The truth keeps coming out.

While LaFontaine is being publicly disrespected, the fans lose too. They’d love to see his old highlights in the video packages, they’d love to see his pictures on the wall, they’d love to have him involved in the organization again.

Pat LaFontaine deserves better, but I’m not sure it’s a fixable situation without a change in ownership. You can’t un-pickle a cucumber, and this grudge has been soaking in brine for years.

Comments (98)

  1. It’s def. sad, and really paints Wang as a little, little man.

    It’s also another impressive reminder that Milbury is always wrong about everything.

    • IT IS A DESPICABLE MOVE NOT ACKNOWLEDGE ONE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST MEANINGFUL ISLANDERS OF ALL TIME. HE WAS PURE CLASS AND ALWAYS CLUTCH. WHO CAN FORGET THAT WINNING GOAL IN FOUR OVERTIMES OR THE GREAT PLAY FROM HIM WHEN THE TEAM WAS WEAK. HE WAS THE CREAM THAT ROSE TO THE TOP. I KNOW AS A FAN AND TICKET HOLDER THE ISLANDERS EMBARRASSED THEMSELVES , ALL OF LONG ISLAND AD THE FANS LIKE MYSELF WHO REVELED IN PAT’S PLAY.
      NOT SOON TO BE FORGIVEN. BAD ISLANDER ORGANIZATION. I KNOW THIS ONLY ADDS TO NOT BUYING SEASON TICKETS FOR THIS FLOUNDERING TEAM AFTER BEING A SEASON TICKET HOLDER OR PARTIAL SEASON TICKET HOLDER SINCE 1972.
      SHAME ON YOU MR. WANG
      PAUL SIEGEL

      • Just want to say in a few words I did not purchase season or any tickets to the islanders as I usually do every year due to the way the have treated pat!!! First great person, classy person and an great hockey player! So that’s why I have stopped purchasing tickets and staying away from the Nassau coliseum altogether even Wang needs fans and clients to stay a float!!!

  2. I never knew that Garth Snow had gone from back-up to GM that quickly. Wow. I love Snow, and think he’s been doing a decent job there, but wow. LaFontaine has always been a classy guy (as far as I know) so I have to assume Wang is just being petulant. Way to run a hockey team. I never see games in the coliseum – but are there “Fire Wang” posters, or would that get you kicked out? Sadly finding new owners for a losing NHL franchise isn’t the easiest thing to do – especially if the current owner doesn’t want to sell.

  3. Well said, Justin. I can’t imagine if my favorite team did something like this. He’s part of the fabric of the team and to ignore him is just petty and dumb.

  4. “They push Isles propaganda, but it comes off more as “Kim Jong Il had 11 holes-in-one en route to shooting 38 under” than anything else. The truth keeps coming out.”

    I have this picture in my mind of Wang as “Team America” Kim Jong il and saying “Aww. Pat Rafrontraine. We meet agrain.” You know, “Hans Brwix” style. Slightly racist, but totally funny.

    • funny if you are a racist. I don’t find it funny at all.

      • racism is the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others. I don’t see how a joke about Wang having the “TA” accent implies superiority as opposed to the observation that many non-native English speaking Asians maintain a common trait of pronouncing the “l” sound as an “r”.

        your reply would make more sense as: “I didn’t find it funny at all. I’m too stupid to know what racism means, so I throw blanket condescending and uniformed statements out there (not unlike what racists do).

        • “many non-native English speaking Asians maintain a common trait of pronouncing the “l” sound as an “r”.”
          You generalize like a racist.

      • I don’t find it funny at all, either. I find it hilarious.

  5. Milbury just might be the biggest piece of shit in hockey these days. He is already regarded as one of the worst GM’s in NHL history and is doing a fine job at asserting himself as the biggest moron to ever be given air time on a hockey show.

  6. To be fair, regarding the team HoF inductions at least, this year was the first year where they added anyone who wasn’t part of the cup dynasty squad (and they added one player per decade, going with Morrow over Patty for the 80s).

    That said, Wang (and Snow) need to manage to leave their grudges out of their business practices. Their treatment of those who disagree with them is shameful (free Botta!) and I have to cling to hope that Wang is waiting for the “right time” to re-open the wallet, even though that time was probably 2 seasons ago.

    As for an encouraging precedent, at least we got to see Geroge and Yogi bury the hatchet some years ago – so maybe there is room for Charles to extend an olive branch at some point in the future.

  7. The Isles were my first NHL love, and LaFontaine one of my first hockey heroes, and this just makes me sad and angry.

    I wish I could still root for you, Isles. But I just can’t right now. I just can’t.

  8. Pat LaFontaine is one of the best people in sports. Not just a great player, a great person. When I was a kid, I got to practice with the Isles Alumni Team after an Isles/Sabres game at the Coliseum. While I played, Pat LaFontaine came out to watch the alumni team practice after he got dressed and struck up a conversation with my father. LaFontaine stayed there for an hour talking hockey and chatting up a fan. He didn’t have to, he chose to. My father said he was incredibly modest and polite. All class.

    The fish rots from the head. Charles Wang is a disgrace of an owner. He is the #1 reason that this once-proud franchise is a gutter dwelling failure with no hope in sight. This team will fail and continue to fail until he is out of the picture. As sad as it is that this team doesn’t embrace one of the only bright spots this organization had in the late 80′s-early 90′s, a guy who radiates class, its probably for the best. I don’t think LaFontaine would even want to be affiliated with such a dysfunctional organization or with an owner who holds a grudge like a seven-year old.

  9. mike Milbury is a fucking idiot…he re-enforces my opinion each time he opens his mouth…this is why he is not coaching and is only commenting on games with other douches that dont know anything…

    • If Mike Milbury says something just believe the opposite. He is as clueless as Wang.

      BTW – Justin your dad WAS that good.

  10. Looks like this article may land you on the persona non grata list of Mr. Wang

    Rule 1 of Islanders you don’t question what Mr. Wang says

    • Rule 2 of Islanders: Everybody Wang-chung tonight! Hey, Milbury where’s that shoe?

      Pat LaFontaine get blacklisted by Wang, who is supported by Mike Milbury, Really is all you need to know. If Milbury is lobbing grenades for one side then the other side must be right. Just the DiPietro trade alone puts MM in the Hall of Shame for GMs. Pat was unpaid as an advisor, right? So, he resigned __ can you do that if you aren’t paid? — rather than put his name to the sham. Wouldn’t call that running for the hills. I’d call that standing PAT (pun intended) on your principles.LaFontaine being in the Isles HoF is for the fans — especially all the ones who stcuk thru the crappy years and not for the ownership. Wang should be embracing such a positive force and not dissing him.

      Side note: Great to read an article by a son of a former Isle great, Bob “Air” Bourne. Man, the guy glided on the ice. Seemed so effortless the way he skated. Great collection of stars and role-players on those teams.

      Thanks for the great article, Justin. Your writing glides just like your dad!

  11. Wang is a business genius and he is ruining the team on purpose so he can blame the poor attendance on the lack of a decent rink and get concessions from local government.

  12. unpickle / brine line = freakin sensational

  13. Charles wang is a disgrace to the game, the league MUST step in and do something about this vile, petty egomaniac.

  14. Keep this story alive! Great work Mr.Bourne!!

  15. i feel like Wang is taking notes from the movie “Major League”. if his team does bad enough and doesn’t treat them with the respect an NHL organization deserves, then they’ll be able to pack up and move to greater pastures. only, there’s no greater destination in sight, they haven’t produced a miraculous late-season comeback, and Charlie Sheen is not on the team. i’ve also heard Patty is an outstanding person and it’s just sad to see how he’s getting crapped all over by this guy.

  16. Would be great if the fans organized some sort of “wear your LaFontaine jersey” to the season home opener or something equally supportive. I know it’s not feasible to expect everyone to fork out the dough for one of his jerseys, but it would be pretty spectacular if something like that were to happen.

    • If everyone’s already got a jersey and some electrical tape, I think that a slap dash/home made vibe would honestly be better. Why should Wang make money off the jersey of a guy he won’t acknowledge?

      • This is a great idea. No $$ for Wang — that’s funny to say! Besides, the taped on name and number would show how cut-and-paste this organizatin has treated Pat. Someone would comment on that on a national show or network.. Drag Wang and his style out into the light and watch them sizzle from the harsh, bright glare of truth!

  17. Brilliant article. So sad to read how the once mighty and proud franchise has deteriorated into to a sour pickle. Glad I didn’t spend one dime on Islanders tickets this year. This team needs massive reconstructive surgery–from the top down.

  18. Don’t forget to add Chris Botta to the excommunication list!

  19. I am not saying Pat LaFontaine is in the wrong or deserves this treatment, nor am I saying Charles Wang is justified in his banishment of Lafontaine. There is no denying Lafontaine’s career or talents, nor his charitable endeavors. However, I don’t know how so many cN condemn Wang when all the facts are not known. So far as I’m aware neither Wang nor LaFontained have provided details of EXACTLY what transpired leading to Lafontaine’s resignation. Without having the facts, it seems unfair to kill Wang just because LaFontaine has a saintly reputation and Wang is an easy target. Also, let us recall that this was the 2nd time LaFontaine walked out on the Islanders. It has been said that his hold out in the early 90s was because the Islander owner (not Wang)at that time broke a promise. If that be the case his decision to request a trade cannot be condemned. But by demanding a trade while sitting out an argument could be made that he showed some rash decision making ghat left the Islanders in a difficult position. The fact that Bill Torrey was able to make an excellent trade doesn’t change the fact that a hold out by a player forced the hand of his former team and put them in a bad situation. Pickett (the owner at the time) may have acted poorly, but lafontaine’s hold out hurt not only Pickett; it also hurt his teammates and the Islander fans.

    So my point is this. No one should be lambasted as Wang has without everyone knowing the facts. As much as LaFontaine post career has been nothing but a role model, that doesn’t mean he Has been in the right in this instance.

    • have some more kool-aid moron.

      • Not drinking any cool aid, but you are jumping on the bandwagon with no facts, just speculation. Keep in mind, no Wang, no Islanders. The team would already be gone. Don’t think that is disputed by any, even the press that loves to bash him. He clearly isn’t the perfect owner. Many mistakes made; Milbury, DP to name 2. But he did keep the franchise in existence, at least until 2015, and hopefully beyond.

        • I agree with you. Maybe Wang felt that LaFontaine walking out in sympathy to Smith undermined him. Maybe it did. Who knows.

    • Mr. Wang, is that you?

  20. I think the whole thing just illustrates what a joke the Islanders are. You know how NHL franchises typically honor local teams that win USA Hockey National Championships at a home game? Well, the Long Island Royals won the U16 USA Hockey National Championship this past weekend. Who was their coach? Pat LaFontaine. Wonder if those kids will get the recognition they deserve from the Islanders?

  21. Before Patty’s name even comes into the conversation, how can you take a man who hired and KEPT Mike Milbury seriously? It’s easy to look in the rear view mirror, but was there ever a time that the Yashin or Dipietro signings appeared to be prudent or rational? Wang and Patty are on opposite ends of the spectrum of ‘class’. The situtation is a travesty, but unfortunately, so is the team.

  22. Editor’s note: comment deleted. Backhand Shelf doesn’t have time for that kind of bullshit.

    • Classy! You deserve an awful Islanders team…

    • Thanks Justin for helping to expose this petulant, vindictive child. Watching my Islanders used to be my escape from reality but under Wang the game just ain’t fun anymore. There is absolutely no hope in this franchise as long as he owns the team. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’d honestly rather have the Isles move then endure another ten to twenty years of his pathetic dictatorship.

    • And Frank, I may hate Wang but I despise racists even more. Go jump off a bridge.

    • its 2012… how do people like you still exist?

    • While this element persists everywhere, I hope readers don’t think that this slime is indicative of all LIers and Islanders fans. We are (largely) an educated, worldly lot, but you can’t fully stifle the smallbrained bigots. Pathetic.

  23. Justin – absolutely great piece, this franchise is an absolute mess right now. Wang has embarrassed himself again and again. Sell the team!!!!

  24. Great story……..it should be repeated over & over………Pat was one of the best Islanders to ever lace up his skates on the Island………. retiring his number and hanging his jersey in the Coliseum is long overdue……….. especially this year, being the 40th Anniversary of the Islanders it was disrespectful to not credit La Fontaine as one of the greatest Islanders

  25. maybe it’s because the fans in BUFFALO have adopted him as one of our own. the current ownership has treated him with respect.

  26. Just to be clear, we’re all rallying to the defense of the guy who held out and forced a trade 20 years ago, right?

    • Pat. LaFontaine held out because he was promised a new contract the previous year by Bill Torrey. Mr. Torrey was unable to deliver because the then owner, John Pickett, refused to spend any more money on the team. This left LaFontaine no choice but to hold out, he would have preferred to stay here, but not under those conditions.

      • Yes, but he was still under contract. He was unhappy with his pay and walked out demanding a trade. Under such a scenario leverage is lost by the team trying to trade a player not in the line-up. So while LaFontaine certainly appears to be a good and charitable man, that doesn’t mean each and every action he takes is ALWAYS the correct one. Just something to keep in mind, especially when killing Wang in a situation where many of the facts are unknown.

        • Exactly. We vilified Kirk Muller for refusing to honor his contract when he was traded here. We vilified Nabokov last winter for refusing to honor his contract when he was claimed off waivers. The entire league vilified Alexei Yashin for refusing to honor his contract with the Senators. But because Charles Wang is being a petulant child towards him, we let Pat LaFontaine slide? That dog won’t hunt. The one thing that works in LaFontaine’s favor is that he apparently has been the one extending the olive branch and Wang has said no.

    • So every decision you made when you were 26 was perfectly rational and fair to everyone involved, right?

      I’m 26 now, and if someone had promised me more money last year, then not given it to me this year, damn right I’d walk out. Bet you would too.

      • Good point. People can learn and Pat did what alot of other players, in all sports, have done — held out until resolution was reached. his career did end du to concussion — albeit years later — but words are contracts, too. Isles didn’t live up to their end. Also, he did take an unpaid position as consultant for the team. That shows his decision-making has matured, aswell. He loves being on LI and wanted to help rebuild the team. I thought the day they hired Neil Smith and Pat joined on was the beginning of a 2nd phase for them. However, Wang & Milbury became the norm. Sad…

  27. Justin,
    Fantastic article, this owner needs to stop treating the fans like crap. He sells us the same crap year after year to get us to renew then never delivers on any of his promises. When asked by Howie during the interview the other day about staying at the cap floor he refused to answer the question. The man is insane and is holding this once great loyal fanbase hostage.

  28. Thanks Justin. Further proof that our owner is a Giant Toddler. I don’t know about anyone else, but my parents raised me to turn the other cheek, especially if the person you have a problem with is trying to make peace.

  29. Mike Milbury has always been great at assessing the game of hockey. Was Pat wrong for “heading for the hills” with this team. If it wasn’t for Bill Torrey and the legacy that he left, this team would be playing in Winnipeg.
    This team is such a disgrace. Larry Brooks was right when he said that the Isles are currently irrelevant in the New York market. Ever since Don Maloney disbanded the ’93 team the Isles have floated in the hockey abyss of disappointment after disappointment.
    How is Charles so rich? When he runs such a terrible business in Uniondale.

  30. Well said Justin. Surprised that NYISLES Fan Central isn’t lambasting you with his
    Wang koolaid flavored propaganda yet. Have you read his comments to the WSJ article? We need more people like you, Sielski and even Brad Dalgarno coming out and putting the public scrutiny on this organization.

  31. Well said Justin….LOL

    Botta-Justin lets beat all over Wang, I do it every day on twitter and we can spin this Lafontaine thing from 2008 in pure gold.
    Justin-You got it.
    Sielski-What do you want me to write Chris?

    Peter Botte-let’s rip Wang
    Brooks-you know I’m in. Let’s go Rangers.

    How can people be so gullible. You that mad at Wang for not building you the arena everyone else got from taxpayers? Go vent at Mangano and Murray for more than one day a year.

    Funny how Wang honored Lafontaine in 2003 right after he went into the HOF and did not want his jersey retired, just money given to charity.

    Funny how Wang started doing to challenge with the Rangers for Lafontaine’s charity after this before Dolan started deciding his team wins regardless of who won head to head.

    Funny how the Times article in 2008 said Lafontaine could have sat in a box reserved for alumni but did not make the WSJ article and was at Arbour night and with Crosby at another game.

    Why don’t you check out Botta’s twitter, every other day it’s his agenda with Wang and Snow while lobbing softballs at Dolan to keep his employment.

    Not writing Wang is perfect here, but there are two sides. Obviously most of you would be on Wang’s if he was the only one to pay for his own arena while everyone else got theirs via taxpayers.

    Look at the stuff Steinbrenner pulled, Dolan kicked out Marv Albert and Dave Checketts, every team has this stuff. How many alumni Wang pay along with the kids from the Lighthouse tournament he flies in and houses.

    With Wang’s money Botta’s out of hockey entirely. he quit and then took his money, then thanked him before turning him down a second time, then Botta got nasty and wrote teams efforts to sign players were staged?

    He pulled that on Dolan he’s sued and barred from Msg.

    • Unless you work for the Isles, there’s no reason for you to be an apologist. There’s no grand conspiracy to cut down Wang and the Isles. They are simply a disgracefully run organization with petty, incompetent management who surround themselves with yes men and chase out anyone who disagrees with them.

      They’ve alienated players, former players, employees, and perhaps most importantly, their fans.

      They’ve finished in last place for so many seasons in a row I’ve lost count, and there is zero reason to believe they will get out of the basement next season.

      They invite all the crap they get on themselves. Wang and Snow have collectively run this team into the ground. They have a bunker mentally: rarely meeting with the media and when they do, having softball interviews. At least they’ve gotten a little better at not telling flat-out lies (“I’ve got the green light to spend as much as needed”) and instead just give empty answers, such as this gem from last weekend (and I am paraphrasing here):

      Howie: “Will you spend more in the off-season to improve the team?”

      Charles: “Well it’s not about the spending, it’s about the right people.”

      Yeah, you got that right Charles. Marty Reasoner, Jay Pandolfo, Milan Jurina, Mark Eaton… right people, indeed.

      Stop drinking the Kool Aid. It’s okay to be a fan and still the team, management, and its owner for what they are. And right now, it ain’t good.

      • So Wang and Snow have a bunker mentality rarely meeting with the media?

        Funny that was Charles Wang on television in May, June, July, August, September at the LH Tournament and thanking the fans Sunday. Snow’s appeared a lot too.

        What does that make Dolan who’s done zero hockey interviews since the last lockout and one since 2007 on the Knicks when he’s not firing everyone or hiding with Sather in Banff?

        Gulotta/Murray/D’Amaton/Suozzi/Mangano/Jacobs-NO
        Jay Jacobs-go do a PSL
        20m in LH losses.

        Renovates Nassau’s building out of pocket again and again as a tennant.

        Tavares-signed
        Grabner-signed
        Okposo-signed
        Nielsen-signed
        Bailey-signed
        Moulson-signed
        Nabokov-signed
        Streit-signed
        Strome-signed
        Niederreiter-signed
        Poulin-Koskinen-Nilsson-signed
        Kabanov-signed
        Nelson-signed
        deHaan-signed
        Donovan-signed
        Ness-signed
        MacDonald-signed
        Hamonic-signed

        Gillies, Nystrom Morrow, Smith, Trottier, Kallur, Bossy, Weight, Cairns, Dunham, Klatt, Sandersson, all among current former player employees.

        Peca, Jonsson, Osgood Yashin, Parrish, Hunter all the former players praise Wang. Peca roasted the Oilers.

        Wang started Isles Hall of Fame, he retired Trotttier and honored 80′s teams and paid to have all of them back. All he’s done for charities with tickets.

        What did the guy before him do but try to sell Palffy to Dolan for cable money.

        Someone must be spiking that Botta kool-aid.

        • Believe whatever you want to believe, man. You’re entitled to your opinion.

          If striving for mediocrity is your thing, you must be in heaven.

        • Wow. You mean to tell us that he signed ACTUAL players ? I thought they were CG animation. Imagine that, signing players to play. What lucky fans we are to have the owner of an NHL team to sign players. Tell us more!

          Also, what a guy to do interviews once a month on his own teams broadcast. I bet the only thing that made him sweat was walking to do the interview. It certainly wasn’t the pre screened questions they asked him. I especially loved the snow interview on Itv. Riveting, award winning segment.

      • Why does it always have to be all-awesome or all-dreadful? Why is everything either BITTER VENDETTA or MOAR KOOL-AIDE!!one!

        Wang saved the team. They’re not that good right now, but they exist. He’s stuck with Long Island and its preposterous politicians far longer than many others would. He has been incredibly gracious at times, and incredibly petty at others.

        The team has been last in a brutal division four straight times. They have a much better team now than they did in 2008. They’re right at the cap floor. They’ve got many of their young stars signed long-term. They rarely sign free agents, but they certainly make enough offers.

        Go back to before Wang owned the team. Pretty much all the negatives you could talk about now also existed then under Milbury and Milstein/Pickett. But none of the positives existed. On balance the past five years have been difficult, but the franchise is moving forward.

        That all being said… Pat LaFontaine should be welcome no questions asked at any Islanders function or event. Bill Torrey thought enough of him to draft him ahead of STEVE YZERMAN for crying out loud. It is far past time to bury the hatchet. I find that this story about the fued looked to be more about sticking that hatchet in the franchise’s back, even to the point of quoting Mike Blargin’ Milbury about the situation.

        I want them to get this right too, but I’m not willing to paint an entire organization as useless and incompetent on the basis of one misguided grudge going on too damned long.

    • Justin, as much as it does hurt to read as an Isles die-hard, thank you for continuing the dialogue about the continued ills of Wang. Really sharp writing, also! Wang’s slights against a stellar humanitarian, let alone one of the Isles all-time fan favorites and stars, continue to haunt and harm this Mickey Mouse franchise. I hope for the future of this team, but Wang continues to prove that he doesn’t care for the fans, doesn’t care to run his franchise properly, doesn’t care to spend to field a competitive squad, and doesn’t care how his team and the fans continue to be a perennial bottom-feeding laughingstock. Wear Isles clothing outside of LI, and expect laughter. I have to applaud Wang’s efforts to get a new arena, and Snow has resigned the kids and convinced Nabby to stay–nice–but rest assured we’ll still have the worst player development system and management ‘team’ in the league, with Ricky on the payroll until Snooki’s a grandma. Wang saved the franchise, for what–to allow Islander fans to watch the team and history slowly die a slow, painful death. I have no faith that he’ll end this Lafontaine blacklisting, which he (Wang) started and perpetuates without justification.

      Wang’s embarrassments are numerous and out there for all to see–when has anyone, one single person, impugned the integrity or class or acts of Pat Lafontaine besides the Wang-loving incompetent cancer Mike Milbury?

      As for NY Isles Fan Central, please curl up in a corner and die. Your drivel has the objectivity of a party operative, the coherence of a meth addict, and the petty snipes of a lonely, vindictive little man. Whatever Chris Botta did to you (are you a jilted lover? did he key your car? did he kick your poodle?), give it a rest; we’re also not talking about MSG and Dolan, for once. Did you really compare Charles Wang to George Steinbrenner, who meddled because he wanted to WIN? Who won multiple championships and hired capable people and allowed them to build a dynasty? Quit distracting from reputable news coverage with your weak little musings.

      • You mean George Steinbrenner who was a convicted felon banned from baseball twice who got a 17 minute standing ovation when kicked out because he put a gambler after Dave Winfield.

        This the same Steinbrenner who kicked out Zimmer, Torre, Mattingly, Berra and was able to spend because NYC gave him tons of taxpayer money and now a 1.5 billion dollar mallpark when he was not threatening to leave every year?

        No, you can’t talk about Dolan, his Knicks have less playoff wins than Wang’s Islanders over the last decade. His Rags one more playoff appearance getting that backing in last year since 1997.

        And we all know Botta is terrified of Dolan, kind of like Alan Hahn now.
        http://www.observer.com/2007/11/life-in-knicks-hell/

        And here’s Botta praising Milbury in 2006 before Smith was hired and ripping Newsday, and Alan Hahn before Dolan bought the paper Botta said Cablevison would improve Islander coverage?

        But don’t take my word for it, take it from the one you trust in Botta.

        http://islanders.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=464195

        • NYIFC – Please, please, please keep responding. Each succeedingly bitter and delusional comment is better than the last. It’s really making my day.

          Do you have a website or a blog or something you can point us to? I really want to see what other brilliant thoughts you’ve enlightened the hockey world with. I have a feeling a five minute interview with you would yield more material than a decade’s worth of interviews with Snow and Wang.

          Here are some suggested questions:

          1) Should we as fans be more critical of the team for a dearth of Long Island-born players on the team?

          2) In 100 words or less, describe why the Nassau Coliseum is a world class sports and entertainment venue.

          3) Chris Botta: is he merely the biggest jerk in all of sports, or The Biggest Jerk of All Time?

          4) Why hasn’t Charles Wang been hailed as a hero for saving the franchise in the manner Mario Lemieux has in Pittsburgh? I’m going to handle this one and play the race card: it’s because Charles is of Chinese descent and Lemieux is French-Canadien, obviously.

          5) If you owned the franchise for a day, what would you do differently? Alternatively, a perfectly acceptable answer is, “I would do nothing. The franchise is perfect the way it is.”

          Also, if you have political or religious viewpoints, I’d love to hear those as well.

    • I can’t fathom anyone defending this piece of crap organization unless you get paid by the word in Wang Koolaid Bucks. Assuming you do not get paid by Wang, you have to be completely deluded. Neither the fanbase nor the long term health of the franchise gains by your mindless babble defending the owner. Quite the opposite. The lack of accountability in the local and national press leads to where we are today. Five straight bottom five finishes (a record in the post lockout era) and an owner who thinks dissing a great Islander over petty nonsense and having his crippled BFF goalie give out vouchers for free cold, uncooked hotdogs is what the fans want. But keep posting and defending Charles against all these mean people in the press who better late than ever are finally calling the scumbag out. Those Wang Koolaid Bucks will come in handy over the long, hot summer.

  32. NYIFC – “How can people be so gullible”

  33. wang is a dick. enough said.

  34. “….a new kind of embarrassing.” Well said Mr Bourne. How do they keeping digging themselves deeper? Maybe a good question would be,..”What new kind of embarrassing will they think of next?”

  35. Great articale Justin!!!! wang is NOTHING more then a CROOK!!!! I wish your Father in Law would give him an Ed Hospodar beating!!!!!!! Man do I miss the 70′s & 80′s

  36. Remember this old saw?

    Rule 1: The boss is always right.
    Rule 2: If the boss is wrong read rule 1 again.

    I’d bet that this isn’t a one way street and that there were some harsh and caustic words exchanged before Pat left. Wang, being the boss and owner. has the choice to do what he wants with Pat L’s Islander history. He has chosen not to use it in the team’s marketing plan. So, no Islander Hall of Fame and no video of him. It’s his call.

  37. So the rumor that Bob Pulford left Chicago for NYI is….oh never mind. This is very, very sad for hockey. The Islanders are my second favorite team (Blackhawks are the first), and it pains me to see this crumble.

  38. I watched that 1987 game: Isles vs the Caps. Watched it all the way through to the end and I wasn’t a Caps fan nor an Isles fan. But it still ranks as one of the best NHL games I have ever seen. Gutsy performances all over the ice, not the least of which was LaFontaine’s. What a shame to read about this sad state of affairs a quarter of a century later. Sad. The Blackhawks went through a somewhat similar state of affairs in recent years with some of their former stars if I recall, especially guys like Hull and Mikita. But they managed to make the right move and patch things up. I can only hope the Isles will see the light one of these days and do the same with Pat.

    Also, with regards to Mike Millbury and his comments, wow. More of the same from Millbury. He has quickly become irrelevant as an NHL commentator. Basically a guy you tune out and ignore. Is that what NBC wants in one of its top analysts? One can only assume so at this point. But there are better people out there — Kevin Weekes anyone — and NBC should start looking at what they would gain by replacing Millbury. At this point, for this hockey fan, seeing Millbury cut loose would be a welcome sight.

  39. My Mom always said … if you have nothing nice to say about somebody, then don’t say anything at all. Ehhhh Screw that! I’ve pretty much reserved myself to just kicking back and watching the boys play this year, and try and enjoy the growing pains as much as possible. Staying off the boards and the rumor mill to keep my frustration to a low level.

    After last August’s referendum to build a new arena failed, I just looked forward to the season starting, and getting back to hockey again… That was derailed while I was at a Yankee playoff game last season I ran into an old friend and fellow Islander fan with friends in high places, but not with the Isles. He had some frustraiting things to say about Mr. Wang’s puzzling lack of action … but on one hand has shown he’s the most patient owner in sports. I root for him to pull things together every day … but I no longer have the confidence that Wang will be the owner savior we thought he might be in 2000. I bought tickets to the Barclay Center game in October, and hope maybe showing some support in Brooklyn will force a change for the better, one way or another.

  40. Justin, With all due respect to your father’s era, this is a crap hole organization, run by an control freak dictator, an idiot GM who can’t draft his way out of a bag, GM and coach who a career ECHL or AHL coach at best.

    Enough is enough. Sell the dam team and move for that I care.

  41. If Niel Smith were GM, I would bet that we would at least have been in the playoff’s 2 of the last 5 years.

    • No one in the NHL wants to hire him. Other than that little stint for the Isles, no one has touched him for a GM job in 12 years.

  42. Justin,

    You have insulted the almighty emperor of the Isles and will be banshed forever (along with Botta and Lafontaine).

  43. Islnaders have the sports franchise record for former Owners charged with or convicted of Felonies (fraud):

    1) Two of the gang of four
    2) John Spanno
    3) Sanjay Kumar

    • Harold Ballard and Stafford Smyth, owners of the Leafs, were charge with tax evasion in the ’60s.

  44. What amazes me is how some people don’t realize how foolish they look at times. For ANYBODY to defend Wang at this point, well just WOW. Ignorance truly is bliss I guess. And ever single road leads back to BOTTA. BOTTA BOTTA BOTTA. Get over it already. If you like him that much, send him an e-mail. I’m sure he’ll catch a game and have a brew with ya. But this is a real strange way to go about doing it.

    Good Lord.

    • Ignorance is bliss for you.

      The guy here before Charles Wang demanded traded Palffy go to the Rangers for cable contract money. This one spent 130m dollars on players his second summer, now he’s signing everyone his gm says should be paid.

      Charles Wang keeps paying everyone this team drafts, every player (even the one Snow tolled) all resigned here and praised the owner when all they had to do what go public that they wanted to be traded.

      You telling me Tavares, Nielsen, Okposo, Bailey and all those other players did not have options?

      Charles Wang lost 20 million dollars and did 200 meetings with Scott Rechler on one project, then got humiliated on a ridiculous referendum thanks to Mangano’s cashgrab for the county fund over 30 years plus he’s spending his own money to renovate Nassau County’s building again as a tenant while Bloomberg and Cory Booker gave every other team a taxpayer arena.

      Meanwhile Gulotta, Murray, D’Amato, Mangano, Suozzi, PSL Jacobs keep getting elected and none of the junk CW gets?

      Mangano’s out there honoring the Giants from 1986, he never goes to Islander games.

      So if Wang is this horrible person with the alumni why did all these former players even come back to be honored by Wang this year? The 92-93 team. #18, 6, 26, 29?

      How come Osgood, Peca, Yashin, Hunter the day after he got traded to Devils all praise Charles Wang? Go ask Peca what he thinks of Edmonton?

      Brendan Witt was sitting with Garth Snow in Florida last week during the game and he sent him to Bridgeport?

      Charles Wang went on television Sunday and the first thing he did was thank the fans.

      Dolan’s Knicks have not won a playoff game in a decade and his hockey team had one more playoff appearance than the Isles since 1997 before this year. He’s never done an interview besides yelling at the media since the NHL lockout.

  45. Wang seems aptly named, as the guy appears to be a huge dick.

  46. Justin, whatever you are accusing the Isles of (via Botta daily vendetta) you are just as bad omitting things.

    The Isles finished 4th in Snow’s first year but you failed to write they made the playoffs and it was very memorable.

    Why did you leave that out?

    Garth Snow brought you into this organization, gave you a chance, you saw your only AHL games in Snow’s organization and the Isles website always did features on you.

    I seem to recall Charles Wang was the man who opened the Isles Hall of Fame and honored your father first after Trottier and Pat Lafontaine in November 2003. I remember your family sending the Post that letter about not your dad not being appreciated long before that.

    Charles Wang did something about that to make up for John Pickett, and he brought back those teams many times to the point he got criticized for that.

    Lafontaine was not paid as Wang’s senior adviser? First time I read that got a link to prove it or did Botta feed you that?

    I remember Charles Wang doing the Isles-Rangers challenge for charity before Dolan decided his team wins regardless and the Isles had to fight for their money.

    One thing for sure is Lafontaine did not get along with Neil Smith and Smith did not sign his deal so maybe Wang was right to save 2.1 million ASAP.

    Wang-Smith went to arbitration via Bettman and Smith lost getting paid for his 40 days of service and that was it. Since then Smith’s been infrequent advisors for teams, lost a team he owned to bankruptcy and used profanity in a twitter fight.

    Nice job not including the part in the 2008 Times article that the Isles have a box for alumni that Lafontaine was welcomed to sit in. This was such a non-story back in 2008 it was a blub days later when Burke was at Msg. The Times did not follow up and I asked Lynn Zinser in 2008 why she did not include Wang and Lafontaine were on the ice together on Arbour night and he was introduced to the crowd after he resigned?

    Plus there is an image of Crosby and Lafontaine in the Coliseum in 2007 also.

    Zinser cited the Times budget and they don’t cover the Isles.

    Lafontaine quit on Wang, a little detail that’s lost here. This was not Dolan kicking out Marv Albert or Dave Checkettes on John Davidson day. Steinbrenner threw out or forced so many alumni away for years it was comical between Torre, Zimmer, Berra and countless others. Don’t think the Mets and Seaver had bad blood.

    Good luck seeing Namath honored by Woody Johnson or how the Giants ran out Parcells.

    Milbury did not speak for Charles Wang whenever these quotes were taken from him, it could have been last week or in 2008 for all anyone knows.

    Seems the rest of the alumni have no issues with Charles Wang.

    Sadly all roads usually lead back to the failed former media relations coordinator (or Larry Brooks) who only has a credential lobbing Ranger softballs because of Charles Wang’s money after he resigned. Botta’s had an angry side and had his media fights long before Charles Wang came along.

    Botta used to call out the media and protect Milbury. All the media dumped this franchise on his watch and he said under Dolan the Isles coverage would increase.
    .
    .

    • NYI Fan Central – the most obsequious, naïve, and loyal Chinese Kool-Aid drinker in the country, and the reason I no longer attend The NHL Arena forums. Can I sell you to Dolan for a free beer at the Garden? And I don’t even drink! Justin, you spoke magnificently well – and boldly, as well. The unfortunate aspect of this blog is that you’ll likely find yourself added to Charles “Bigus Dickus” Wang’s list of personas non gratas. In all likelihood, that “Eric” character was Wang, himself, or even Eric Hornick, the statistician for the Islanders and Nasssau Asbestoseum for about as long as LaFontaine has been affiliated with them.

  47. Hi, I’m NYIFC and I’m a long winded puppet for the the Islanders. Could you possibly be Sanjay Kumar blogging from sing sing?

  48. To NYIFC: the bottom line is this: if Wang is so hard-done by with the criticisms he’s facing by so many members of the media (and more importantly, fans), then why doesn’t he host another town hall? He can answer all his detractors there. If he has no vendetta against Lafontaine, then where is the video of the Easter Classic? Where are the images of Lafontaine in media guides? Why was Webb recognized for the 550 miler, but not Lafontaine? Was Webb’s contribution to the team so great that it over-shadowed Lafontaine’s to the point there was no time to talk about the latter? BTW, I put *MY* real name on this post. What’s YOUR real name, and who do YOU work for?
    Tom Eagles.

    • Charles Wang should host a town hall? He appeared all summer before the season started and at the end of the season. His gm hosted season ticket holder last week.

      So many members of the media? You mean Botta and in this case one Ranger fan at the WSJ who passed it to one or two other sites?

      I got a good idea. Why don’t you have Botta ask Dolan why Jiggs call of that game has never been televised being that Dolan owns Newsday and Msg and only his teams greatest games are on 24/7/365 while ours are in a vault at Msg hidden forever.

      I want to see Jiggs call of the game. I want to see the 81 sweep at Msg.

      Oh you must think Wang has some kind of control of this too. That’s why the team is hidden all year on Dolan+2 then his media guy at Newsday behind Dolan’s paywall (Neil Best) says the Isles draw terrible ratings.

      This was the same Dolan who put the 2002 playoffs on Metroguide vs Toronto.

      • This blog is not about Dolan. Stop deflecting puppet boy. You’re really making a fool of yourself as you struggle for some sort of plausible rationalization for Wang’s petty stiff arm of Lafontaine.

  49. I am happy to see that at least one NY Franchise has treated Pat Lafontaine with the respect that he deserves. The Buffalo Sabres made Lafontaine one of five Sabres to have their Number retired. He is always welcomed with open arms by the Sabres and their fans.His Charity work is a testament to who #16 is and what he stands for.
    Pat You deserve better from the Islanders and will always have a special place within the Sabres Organization, and their legions of Fans..

  50. NYIFC is such an apologist. With all your diatribe against Chris Botta, you cannot explain why when LaFontaine and Steve Webb biked 550 miles for charity, the Isles website wrote about it. Except…they never mentioned LaFontaine on the website, just Webb. Why. There is no excuse. You saying it didn’t happen”

    And you don’t deny they don’t show the Easter Epic goal against my Capitals or why they don’t include him on the tickets. Are you saying he isn’t being whitewashed. That is the issue. Not Chris Botta, Not James Dolan, but one of the greatest players to wear an Islander jersey is being whitewashed from team history.

    If that isn’t happening then stf till you stop brown nosing Wang.

    • Hey Ron,

      Webb did this in 2011, 2010, 2009 and the Isles covered all three years, but they only covered him starting, not finishing. There is this thing in September called training camp with players all over North America.

      The NHL covered the finishing. The Sabres covered Lafontaine starting, not finishing.
      The thing ended in NYC and the Rangers did not write one word.

      They not showing the Easter Epic game would be Msg Network owned by Dolan no one has the Isles telecast, even Jiggs is seen narrating the game for the other outlet that covered it.

      I contacted the guy who wrote the articles today, he would not answer a single question.

      So go google nyifc and at 10am Friday 4/5/12 we will present our questions and try and answer them for Mike Sielski. All I ask is you read it and make up your own mind.

  51. I love NYIFC. This guy made my day. He reminds me of the Iraqi Information Minister–whatever his name was– who would hilariously declare they were winning, and soundly at that, while the whole government was collapsing around him.

    NYIFC: I salute you. You’ll still be standing there in the Nassau Coliseum parking lot talking about what a great job Isles’ management is doing while the moving vans are trucking team to… wherever.

  52. I planned to many thanks for this good learn!! I undoubtedly enjoying each and every little little bit of it I’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you publish

  53. This Lafontaine issue with Islanders is based around the fact Pat is heading up a group of investors that plan on making a bid for the team next year. Wang has a payment due next year that he can’t or won’t make without a new coliseum.

  54. Just reading this today. I’m still angry as a long time Islander fan at the horrible treatment of Pat Lafontaine by Wang. Wang is a pompous, arrogant buffoon and has no business owning a hockey team. Pat is very much a part of Islander history. I will never forget his “Easter Epic” goal. Awesome! Saw the whole game. Wang may be the owner of the Islanders, but it isn’t his team! I’ve been a fan since ’75 and he has no right to ostracize Pat from this organization and remove him from Islander history. HIs #16 should be hung from the Coliseum rafters. Pat needs to know the fans haven’t forgotten him, or what he did for this team. Pat can’t be erased from our memories no matter what Wang does…

  55. This is a complete load of crap orchestrated by a Ranger fan at the WSJ and angry failed former media relations coordinator Botta all designed to come out for the 25th anniversay of the Easter Epic goal the day after Wang spoke.

    Justin Bourne must need someone to get a check to not make a call and do his own homework.

    As for Lafontaine he as back for Arbour’s night and introduced in 2007, his name is all over the Isles website, and his goal is in a 2/22/2012 video along with his profile, and countless mentions on the teams website.

    There were players with four stanley cups not honored yet and still Wang gave him a night in 2003 where he refused gifts or his banner raised.

    Latontaine was kept out of one 3:00 minute video at the Coliseum, so was JP Parise’s goal and the 1975 team because the current players do a lot of talking.

    He was included in many other 2012 things daily on the Isles website, this article was a flat out lie and Justin Bourne could have done some homework.

    The information is here if you are interested in facts.

    http://www.newyorkislanderfancentral.com/2012/04/questions-lafontaine-wsj-writer-mike.html

  56. Justin, thank you for sharing this. As a lifetime Sabres fan, my first memory of professional sports excitement, at 7 years old, was riding in the back of my parents station wagon when the local news radio station blared breaking news on a HUGE trade. Two fellas by the name of Pierre Turgeon and some Pat Lafontaine character. Ever since, I’ve been hooked, hadn’t missed a game via radio or TV until things became so bad, I bowed out completely a year ago. Pat being back is chicken soup to my soul, and made me realize that it was a HUGE dis service to not have had him as part of the organization. He personified a captain on the ice, and those type of qualities typically do not flee an individual. I can only imagine the situation/dilemma this transgression has put you in. I never knew the details of how ugly the situation really was. Regardless, as evidenced by his press conference and subsequent interviews, Pat is in a good place now, physically and mentally. But something deep down tells me that when he has been saying “I’ve never won a championship, but if there is one place where I would want to do it, it’s Buffalo”, he innately had another place right next to Buffalo in his heart, and I think You know that as well. I wish you and your Islander-following brothers and sisters bright days.

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