Charles Wang, who owned the New York Islanders from 2000 to 2016 passed away today in Oyster Bay surrounded by family.
Charles Wang was born in Shanghai, China and only watched one hockey game previously to his purchase of the New York Islanders. In 2000, with a former ownership debacle and rumors swirling of the team leaving the Island, Charles Wang stepped in.
Wang didn’t want to see the Islanders leave Nassau so he saw an opportunity to buy the team and did it. In 2001, he green-lighted an Alexi Yashin and Michael Peca trade and then signed them.
Whether the trades and signings worked out is something we can debate now, but at the time he was showing that he wasn’t afraid to spend money. Plus, it did lead to the Islanders first playoff appearance since 1994.
Wang also did everything in his power to keep the New York Islanders on Long Island. His Lighthouse plan, which would’ve renovated Nassau Coliseum and fixed up the surrounding area showed how much he cared for the community. Ultimately, that plan was rejected and the Islanders had to move to Brooklyn, but that isn’t on Wang.
Wang’s tenure wasn’t perfect, he was loyal (too loyal) to Garth Snow, he gave Rick DiPietro a 15-year contract and ultimately the team didn’t have much success during his tenure.
But his legacy should go down as the owner that stepped up when the team was in shambles. He tried to keep them in Nassau, he tried to make them competitive and he genuinely cared. That’s how Charles Wang should be remembered by Islanders fans.
Today, you see tweets pouring out from media and people who worked with him and nobody has a bad thing to say on the man. Charles was a good person with good intentions for his team. That’s all you can ask of out of your owner.
According to a statement from the Wang family:
"“He treasured his association with the team and its devoted fans.”"
Thank you to Mr. Wang, for doing everything in your power to keep this team in New York and on Long Island. May he rest in peace.