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UBS Arena should add statues to honor Islanders history

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Charles Wang
New York Islanders Introduce New Coach and GM / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

Charles B. Wang

This may be slightly controversial, but like it or not the Islanders do not exist today without the late Charles Wang. Born in Shanghai, China in 1944, the Chinese-American businessman became a minority owner of the Islanders in 2000. One year later, Wang became the majority owner from 2001 through 2016.

There were some questionable decisions in Wang's tenure as the Islanders' majority owner such as hiring Mike Milbury as the team's general manager, or even succeeding him with Garth Snow because he was "good at fantasy hockey," but even that decision didn't turn out too bad. Wang is most well known for his numerous attempts to build the Islanders a new arena in Nassau County and keep the Islanders home on Long Island.

Wang developed a master plan called "The Lighthouse Project" which was to transform the Nassau Coliseum into a modernized NHL arena as well as a five-star hotel; condominiums; an athletic complex featuring four ice rinks, a basketball facility, and a state-of-the-art health club that would have served as the Islanders' practice facility and would have been open to the public. Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray deemed the project too large and denied Wang's proposal to transform the Nassau Coliseum grounds and the project ultimately fell apart.

It was at this time Wang could have easily relocated the franchise after the chatter grew louder and louder about a possible relocation, especially with Kansas City hosting a vacant hockey arena. Instead, Wang did his best to keep the Islanders as close to home as possible. Wang struck a deal in 2012 that would move the franchise to Brooklyn to play at the Barclay's Center, the better alternative than moving the team out of state.

In 2014, Wang agreed to sell the team to current owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin. Wang's love for the Islanders and Long Island kept the franchise as close to home as possible. If it weren't for him, the Islanders could very well not exist today as he stated in the move to the Barclay's Center:

"It was Brooklyn, or out of town"

Charles Wang

Wang deserves immortality in his own right for his efforts in trying to take the Islanders organization to the next level, whether he succeeded or not, but mostly because he ensured the Islanders stayed where they belonged.

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