Wang turns focus to upcoming season

At Islanders media day at Nassau Coliseum, owner Charles Wang tells the crowd about his excitement for the coming season in a team that general manager Garth Snow has put together. Videojournalist: Robert Cassidy (Sept. 21, 2011)

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Charles Wang may have been disappointed by the Aug. 1 referendum vote, when Nassau County rejected executive Edward Mangano's $400-million plan for a new Nassau Coliseum.

But the Islanders owner is trying to move past that summer -- and the last four seasons without a playoff appearance.

"It's like starting a new [school] term -- you turn the page, write your name at the top and you start the new year," Wang said during a news conference with reporters. "That's what we're looking forward to."

Wang did give general manager Garth Snow the green light to make long-term commitments to Kyle Okposo (five years, $14 million), Michael Grabner (five years, $15 million) and the most important part of the Isles' young core, John Tavares (six years, $33 million).

There is no commitment for the Islanders to Long Island beyond 2015. Wang only wanted to talk about the 2011-12 season, not anything beyond.

"Their focus is on the season," Wang said of his players when asked if they've inquired about the future of the franchise. "We're here for the next four years, we know that and they want to put the best product on the ice. They're great kids, a great group of kids that Garth and [coach Jack Capuano] have put together. Let's not worry about that. We have one thing to focus on, and that's this season."

The only news from the news conference was the introduction of Mark Streit as the 13th captain in the team's 40-year history. Streit, 33, becomes the first Swiss-born player to captain an NHL team.

"I've been a captain of the Swiss National Team for three Olympics, and that's a great honor," he said. "But you can't compare that with being a captain in the NHL, for a franchise like this.

"I think you lead by example. I try to work as hard as possible every day on and off the ice . . . I hate losing. I just want to win games."

Wang feels the same way. He was asked about the Association for a Better Long Island's development proposal for the Coliseum site and didn't want to get into any arena talk.

"If someone comes up with anything definitive, we'll look at it," he said. "I can tell you one thing very definitive: October 8, 8:08, the puck drops. And we're going to have a hell of a season."

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