Islanders' future remains murky

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang during a

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang during a press conference to announce plans to build a ballpark and a new state of the art Nassau Coliseum. (May 11, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

PITTSBURGH

Charles Wang was succinct when discussing the future home of his Islanders.

"Nothing new," Wang told Newsday in regard to a new arena, either in Nassau County, Brooklyn or elsewhere.

This was going to be a big summer in determining the future of Wang's team. If Nassau County voters had approved the $400- million referendum nearly 11 months ago, shovels might be going into the ground somewhere around the current Nassau Coliseum just about now.

Without that victory, Wang has gone silent on matters of a new Islanders home. He much preferred to discuss his team's latest draft pick Friday night, or about how he believes the Islanders are poised for something better than fans have seen during the last five seasons without a playoff appearance.

There is the coming preseason game at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the only viable new home in the tri-state area for the Islanders -- but that, too, might get pushed aside if the NHL and the players association cannot come to terms on a new collective-bargaining agreement by the Oct. 2 date of that Isles-Devils matchup.

But aside from that, there is nothing really new for Wang to say about what lies beyond 2014-15 for his team.

"It's an important year," Wang said. "As I've said, the same thing I've said for all 12 years [I've owned the team], we have an expiring lease and we have to do something about it. We're working on it, we're looking at all our options and when we find the right one, we'll do something."

General manager Garth Snow made a small but necessary move just before the draft began Friday night, adding veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky for next season, then drafting big defenseman Griffin Reinhart for the future. The Isles' stable of young talent grew again, though the impatience for that young core to start winning also is growing.

"People ask me what I would have done differently last season. I want to win more games, that's what I tell them," Wang said. "That's what the whole sport is about. We believe we're going in the right direction with the right group of players, and we've invested in that group. We want to give them the opportunity to do something very special for Long Island."

The Islanders have roughly $30 million invested in next season's team, though the combined salary-cap hits total about $44 million, which already could be safely over the still-undetermined salary-cap floor. Wang surely will lose money next season even if he doesn't spend another dollar beyond what's committed.

This was going to be a big summer for the Islanders. It still might be if they can put their young pieces together for a good season. But there is nothing new to say about where this team will be three years from now and beyond, which takes a little something away from the positives for the fans and for Wang as well.