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SportsColumnistsArthur Staple

Islanders owners seeking big-name executive, source says

Islanders owner Jon Ledecky remembers Al Arbour during

Islanders owner Jon Ledecky remembers Al Arbour during a memorial service at the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow on Aug. 29, 2016. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky have not said anything publicly during the Islanders’ dismal start to the owners’ first season in charge. But they have been busy.

Newsday has learned that Malkin and Ledecky have been meeting since the summer with a number of people in the hockey world, from former team chief officers to power agents to retired players, in hopes of finding a “big name” to step in and oversee the Isles’ operations.

Sources say that Malkin and Ledecky are not close to naming anyone to what would be a team president role — one of the two titles currently held by Garth Snow, who has been president and general manager since the summer of 2006. A team spokesman flatly denied that there is any search underway for a new team president.

But a league source indicated that pretty much since July 1, when Malkin and Ledecky took over the majority ownership role from Charles Wang, the new owners have been on the hunt for someone to step into the executive suite to either work with Snow or make front-office changes.“They’re looking for a big name,” the source said. “They’ve talked to a lot of people already.”

Two of the bigger names that the owners have sat down with in the past few months are well known to Islanders and Rangers fans: Pat LaFontaine and Brad Richards.

LaFontaine served briefly in an executive role for the Islanders as senior adviser for 40 days in 2006, hired along with Neil Smith and then departing the organization the same day Smith was let go before Snow was hired. LaFontaine also served briefly as president of hockey operations for the Sabres, spending less than four months there before rejoining the NHL as a vice president of hockey development.

Richards retired after last season after a 16-year career with five teams, including the Rangers, and winning two Stanley Cups. He recently spent time with Ledecky at an Islanders game at Barclays Center after Don Meehan, the head of Newport Sports agency and Richards’ longtime agent, suggested to Ledecky that the two meet.

Malkin also has spent time with Pat Brisson, head of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), who also is John Tavares’ agent. Brisson was mentioned as a candidate for the Penguins GM job two years ago.

Sources said that the owners did have talks with former Canadiens chief operating officer Kevin Gilmore about a president’s job in the summer but nothing materialized. It’s believed no other concrete offers have been made since.

The Islanders have not contacted the Panthers for permission to speak to Dale Tallon, Florida’s team president who reshaped the Panthers’ roster as GM before being booted upstairs in a shake-up this past summer.

Tallon’s resume would seem to fit the role Malkin and Ledecky are looking for if they choose to go with someone who has extensive experience navigating the NHL. He is still part of the Panthers’ front office but likely would be allowed to leave for another job.

Ladd looking better

Andrew Ladd’s week has consisted of assists in consecutive games and yet more linemates. He played the last two games with Ryan Strome and Shane Prince, quite the opposite sort of skill set from Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, who had been Ladd’s linemates the previous few games few games.

The bouncing around hasn’t helped Ladd get his skates under him this season, but he’s adjusting.

“To be honest, I didn’t think my first eight or so games were that bad,” Ladd said of the start of the season, when he was playing with John Tavares and Josh Bailey. “We were playing well, creating chances, we just weren’t putting pucks in the net. As it builds, you maybe start trying to do too much and then the line shuffling, where every game you feel like you’re playing with different guys every night . . . But I feel like the last couple games I’ve settled in. Our line played really well [Thursday]. Hopefully we can stay together, work the chemistry and get to know where each other’s going to be.”

Ladd played the majority of his minutes the last five seasons with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler in Winnipeg. Before that, in the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup season, he was a third-line checking wing mostly with John Madden as his center.

“To me, it doesn’t matter,” he said about where he plays. “It’s about finding the right combinations throughout all four lines, however that works is what’s best for the team.”

Not-so-special teams

Jack Capuano likes to cite the combined percentages of his team’s power play and penalty kill to rate where the special teams are -- over 100 is considered solid. This year is so far the worst total number for the Isles in the past five seasons:

Power playPenalty killTotal

2016-17 11.882.193.9

2015-1618.384.5102.8

2014-1518.778.096.7

2013-1417.878.195.9

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