Gary Bettman says he likes future Islanders owners

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media at a press conference announcing the start of the NHL season at the Westin Times Square in New York. (Jan. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty

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What does Gary Bettman think of the Islanders' prospective new owners, Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin?

Not much that he is willing or able to share publicly.

"We're going through the franchise transfer process, so it would be premature and inappropriate for me to comment on it until we complete that process," the NHL commissioner said Thursday at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in Manhattan.

Bettman did acknowledge that he has met Ledecky and Malkin, who under the terms of the deal with Charles Wang would become majority owners in two years.

"Personally I like them and find them engaging, but ultimately it's a decision that gets made by the Board of Governors," he said.

Asked if he can recall another deal structured in a similar way in terms of timing, Bettman said, "I'm sure there have been. I'm not sure what difference that would make, but I'm sure there have been, and when a franchise owner is focusing on an orderly transition, I think that's a good thing for the franchise and, most importantly, it's a good thing for the fans."

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Will it be odd watching the Islanders play their final season at Nassau Coliseum in 2014-15? "This is a situation that is not of the Islanders' making," he said. "The responsibility for what's happened really lies with Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead. For the fans in Nassau, not just of the Islanders, but of circuses and rock concerts and the like, it's a shame.

"The great news is the Islanders have a terrific arena to go to and this is an exciting opportunity for the franchise moving forward."

Bettman said of the setup for hockey at Barclays Center, "I think it's going to be a very good experience, but again, Nassau Coliseum is long past its due date."

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