This week the New York Islanders organization received very sad news. Former majority owner Charles Wang passed away. While there was a lot of frustration when Mr. Wang was front and center, one thing is for sure, he saved the Islanders.
Last January when it was announced that the New York Islanders will be moving back to Long Island (Belmont) it should have been emphasized more that this would never have happened if it wasn’t for Charles Wang.
Charles Wang bought the Islanders at a time when the franchise desperately needed a savior. From a business standpoint, the Isles were beyond a mess.
When Wang bought the Isles the team had the worst arena deal in the history of sports. In addition, dealing with Long Island politics was a nightmare and Nassau County had gigantic economic issues. All of this pointed to a pending disaster for the Islanders.
What’s amazing was at the time of Wang buying the Islanders he had only been to one hockey game his whole life. Hockey at the time wasn’t his thing. Wang bought the team for Long Island and to build something for the community.
It took nearly twenty years for that dream to happen. While Wang was no longer the majority owner when the upcoming Belmont arena was announced his hard work and perseverance was the reason why this day had finally come.
As much as everyone was beyond appreciative what Wang had done in regards to keeping the Isles on Long Island, this past week people have learned about Charles the man. There was a bunch of testimonials from current and former players and all of them had a theme, and that was Charles Wang was a very good man.
For most people when the owner of the company you either work for or used to work for passes away, one wishes them and their family condolences and that’s where it ends. For the Islanders players past and present it was clear they had a strong personal connection with Charles.
Countless stories have emerged from players that considered Charles a close friend and not the owner of a hockey team they played for.
This best example of this was the story Joe Micheletti reported during the Rangers – Calgary telecast this past Sunday night. Micheletti related how that morning the Flames defenseman and former Islander Travis Hamonic was given the news of Wang’s passing and how he immediately broke into tears.
Stories such as the one with Hamonic clearly shows the impact Charles Wang had on people.
Make no mistake if Charles Wang did not buy the Islanders they would have been long gone. Thank you, Charles, for saving the Islanders, for the impact you made on the Long Island community, and for how you treated others.