Charles Wang gave a very short, direct answer when asked if he still believes in general manager Garth Snow, coach Jack Capuano and the direction in which his Islanders, currently last in the Eastern Conference, are headed.
"Yes," the Islanders' owner told Newsday Monday after his team practiced at IceWorks in Syosset. "It's like anything in life -- you embark on this journey and you have people around you that you put your faith in. It's not just about Garth -- it's up to all of us. This is a team game, a team sport."
Wang said he shares Islanders fans' frustration with the ugly season in 2010-11 and the slow start that has the Islanders heading into Tuesday night's game against the Sabres in Buffalo at 6-11-4, four points out of 14th in the Eastern Conference. But he thinks the Islanders under Snow are capable of competing.
"I think the talent is there for this team to do well," he said. "We're on the right track. Last year was a year we felt we should have made progress, but then we had all the injuries. This year, we haven't had a great start, but it's not like we're getting killed out there every night. The kids are learning, and when you learn, you're going to make mistakes."
Wang declined to discuss anything to do with a new arena for the Islanders. The team's lease to play at Nassau Coliseum expires at the end of the 2014-15 season, and Wang repeatedly has said the team will not stay beyond then without a new arena. It is believed that the Islanders would need to have any deal for an arena, either in Nassau County or elsewhere, by June or July 2012.
Wang has stuck by Snow through four straight seasons without playoffs. Asked if Snow had the financial freedom to expand the Isles' relatively low payroll -- it's about $49.5 million, only $1.2 million above the salary floor -- Wang said there are limits to what the Islanders can do.
"We're not a big-market team that can spend like some teams do," he said. "But I've never said no to what Garth wants to do. If it makes sense for our team, then we'll do it. We've tried to be conservative and make smart decisions, and that's what we'll continue to do."
After the Islanders were shut out for a second straight game, 5-0, by Sidney Crosby and the Penguins Nov. 21, Snow told Newsday that he had no intention of firing Capuano.
Notes & quotes: F Jay Pandolfo is out four to six weeks after suffering a broken foot Saturday. Pandolfo has one goal in 21 games but has been a steady fourth-liner and penalty-killer. Rookie RW Nino Niederreiter will return to the lineup Tuesday night after being a healthy scratch for the last four games.