Charles Wang continues to hold reins to Islanders

Islanders owner Charles Wang said he is willing

Islanders owner Charles Wang said he is willing to listen to offers to buy the team, but no deal is close and he is not on the verge of selling. (Credit: Getty Images/Mike Stobe)

Arthur Staple

Arthur Staple Arthur Staple

Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school

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A Canadian radio report on Friday speculated that the NHL is the driving force behind Charles Wang's statement that he is listening to interest from potential suitors.

The Islanders declined to comment, referring to Wang's Friday statement that said: "In recent months, there have been numerous expressions of interest in the purchase of the New York Islanders. As I have consistently stated, I have been and remain willing to listen. However, potential buyers' expressions of interest in the team or even my listening to them does not mean that any deal will be reached."

Two league sources expressed strong skepticism about the radio report, citing the close relationship between Wang and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Wang's NeuLion company provides the online support for NHL.com, including the streaming video of games -- a partnership that is extremely important to the league.

So it would be highly unlikely that Bettman or his office would try to force Wang out in any sort of public manner before the Islanders owner is ready to sell. Wang has owned the team, in part or in full, since 2000.

Bailey nearing 400 games

Josh Bailey will be the second of the Isles' homegrown core to reach 400 games played, which will happen on Wednesday in Ottawa. Considering how many of his fellow core guys have been hurt, perhaps it's not wise to be so sure just yet.

But he will follow Frans Nielsen (439 and counting) and be just ahead of Kyle Okposo (390, but out injured) on the list. Bailey will become the 36th Islander to play 400 games.

"If you'd told me at 15 years old I'd have 400 games in the NHL at my age, I'd have called you a liar for sure," Bailey said. "I'm proud of the accomplishment, but it'd be nice to add in some of the games that don't count towards that number."

He means playoff games, of which he has just the six from last spring. Bailey's 2013-14 has been as disappointing as the team's season. He has a goal and nine assists in his last 17 games after going just 5-13-18 in his first 51 games, which included a 37-game goal drought.

After a strong finish to 2012-13, Bailey signed a five-year, $16.5 million contract that seemed to be a reward for playing well on the two-year, $2.1 million bridge deal he signed just minutes before the start of the 2011-12 training camp.

Instead, this long-term deal has seemed more of a burden. Islanders GM Garth Snow fielded some mild interest in Bailey before the March 5 trade deadline but chose not to sell low on the 24-year-old, who has the fourth-most games played among players in his 2008 draft year.

That may change this summer if there's interest. Bailey has played the last two games, including Saturday night against the Devils, on the top line with Nielsen and Anders Lee.

"We just want to see Josh move his feet, play physical and play with the intensity he needs to show," coach Jack Capuano said.

Okposo still out, not done for year

Kyle Okposo (lower body) missed a second straight game on Saturday, meaning five of the top eight scorers for the Islanders this season were out of the lineup -- John Tavares, Okposo and Michael Grabner are hurt and Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald were traded.

But Capuano said Okposo, who leads the team with 69 points in 71 games, won't be shut down for the remainder of the season.

"We would never put someone in a position to hurt themselves worse," Capuano said. "I wouldn't say he's shut down. He's sore. And the way he grinds it out, with his cutbacks, we'll wait until he's physically and mentally ready."

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