NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had a lot of praise for the current Islanders ownership in making Wednesday’s Belmont Park arena announcement a reality. Bettman also made sure to mention the previous Isles owner, whose similar goal of building a new facility on Long Island never came to fruition.
“Charles Wang had a clear vision for the Islanders,” Bettman told Newsday. “Nobody should take anything away from Charles, because frankly, the Islanders wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Charles. Charles tried mightily for more than a decade to build an arena and a complex for this team. But the fact he had the foresight to hand this franchise off to Scott Malkin and his partners is consistent with Charles’ vision that the team is important to Long Island and important to him.”
In Bettman’s 25 years as commissioner, he’s seen quite a few Islanders owners come and go. And as a New Yorker who grew up not far from Belmont Park, he has always understood what the Islanders mean to Long Island, which made Wednesday’s news conference that much more satisfying.
“While it’s something that is important to us, the Islanders, the players, the fans have been waiting a long time for this,” Bettman said. “It’s great to see it come to fruition. We’ve been talking about this for what, 15 years? I couldn’t be more delighted for the future of this franchise, for the fans and for all of Long Island.”
Wang, who was not in attendance for Wednesday’s announcement, owns a 15 percent share of the team after selling a majority stake to Ledecky and Malkin in 2014.