Wang Loyal To A Fault, But There Was No Fault In His Loyalty to Long Island
Ek’s note: I have always felt BD knew Charles as well as anyone and I asked him if he could say a few words about him....
I always have had mixed feelings on Charles Wang. He left Mike Milbury in charge far too long. The Town of Hempstead complained of an unwillingness to reduce the Lighthouse Project. Yet, later on, Wang and Kate Murray had met for lunch to have their principles hash out those differences. So no matter the ToH's public complaints, Charles tried to cross that divide. Which is why their failure to have it come to a vote would always let the blame fall on them instead of Charles.
This was something Kate Murray, and then Anthony Santino failed to understand. Both toppled from their political trajectory since.
Charles Wang was so loyal to Tom Suozzi that he did not answer Ed Mangano’s phone-calls for months.
He was personal friends with Rick DiPietro and negotiated his longterm deal himself. He gave Garth Snow a longterm deal before Scott Malkin and John Ledecky were to take over.
See, mixed feelings all around, right?
But it is that fierce loyalty that kept the Isles close to home. There is no doubt about it. And for that alone, it washes away all the other items.
Jay Jacobs, the New York Democrats chairman, never understood Charles. Jacobs felt that Charles would be willing to negotiate with the Democrats. This was right after their opposition that deep-sixed the Nassau Referendum.
Jacobs was wrong.
Charles was finished in being a pinball for the political parties of Long Island. The fact that it had taken that long to get to that point was a minor miracle. But Nassau Democrats were stuck in their own reality. Something they would pay for later on.
When Charles Wang was finally done with Long Island, it was at the most dangerous time for Isles fans. It was when outside groups could convince him to sell, recoup on losses, and finally wash his hands of it.
He didn’t. Instead, he crafted a deal in Brooklyn that ended up such a sweet deal that Barclay’s would try to opt out of it later on. By then, there were new owners, and Charles had made back his losses.
Most of all, Charles had continued to work and listen to the NHL, who did not want a cup winning franchise to move. Atlanta had left for Winnipeg for far less of a fiasco than the NY Islanders ever suffered. The NHL power here was not as strong as they would have liked to think.
Charles never shut down that relationship, and thereby, never shut down Long Island. In fact, despite letting new owners buy-in, he remained a voice and investor so he could pass it on to his children.
In a day and age of teams moving and leaving fans high and dry… his legacy is that the NY Islanders remain local.
This is important and should not be dismissed by fans or anyone else.
Charles Wang was used and abused by many in his time as owner.
Politics and infighting were what got everything in dire straits in the first place. There was a terrible deal with SMG even before Charles Wang bought them. NHL VP, Bill Daly, warned the Nassau Legislature that the Isles were in grave danger in 1999, a year before.
A warning Long Island politicos ignored in all the follies that followed after that.
Nassau politics SHOULD have lost the NY Islanders.
Fans should thank Charles Wang for stubbornness and patience. Yes, even if we quibble with everything else during his tenure.
Rest in peace, Charles.