Tuesday, May 20, 2008

3 questions: Coliseum project, lowest moment(s), questionable moves

“Mn” has a quartet of questions, three I’ll address now, one at a later date. I answer them within his post, one-by-one. Please feel free to keep the questions coming. I still have so many to get to, but it’s been fun and I don’t think I’ve gotten myself in trouble yet. Yet.


You've been through a lot with the Isles. It's a shame after all the bad years you won't be with them if they ever turn it around.

I was there for the ride in 1993. Had a blast in ’01-02 from the 11-1-1 start through the classic first round with the Leafs. Sure I wish we’d won more, but I’ll be just as happy watching it with my kids in the stands – especially with so many good friends still with and on the team.

Couple of Questions:
1. What are the odds of the Lighthouse Project making it through the approval process, and if it doesn't what happens to our team?

The Coliseum project has been approved by Nassau County, which some people never thought would happen. It’s now in the zoning process with the Town of Hempstead. I won’t lie to you: there were times when I’d wonder if the pols would ever wake up and make a deal. But now I feel it’s as close as ever to becoming a reality.

In one of my final weeks on the job, I saw something that really opened my eyes. I was visiting my pal Paul Lancey, whose staff is overseeing PR and other areas for the project, and he took me to the executive meeting room at Rexcorp Plaza. There is a large window with a perfect view of all of that asphalt surrounding the Coliseum. It’s really something to see.

Here’s something Charles Wang never gets credit for, and should. He has never – not once – played the card of even casually threatening to move if the project doesn’t get done. I’m sure he’s had some advisors (cough, cough) through the years telling him it’s the quickest way to mount pressure for a deal, but Charles has steadfastly refused. This makes him a far better man than me, because I’m pretty sure if I was in his position I’d have lost my cool by now and been on the front page of Newsday.

The project will get done, and it will get done soon – or else. What “or else” is, I do not know and don’t even want to think about it. But respect Charles Wang for remaining a gentleman throughout. As a reminder, he bought/saved the Islanders eight years ago and a shovel is still not in the ground.

2. What was the lowest moment in all of your years with the team - SpanoGate? HoistGate? Trading of Ziggy? Fisherman jersey? Kirk Muller?

Yes/oh my God/you wouldn’t believe it.
Definitely; hope to never spend that much time in court again.
Uggh, and almost to the New York Rangers.
Don’t remind me; I’m personally disgusted with myself for that one.
You betcha.

3. What was the worst personnel move that an Isles GM made during your tenure? Bertuzzi/McCabe trade? Jokinen/Luongo trade? Turgeon/Malakov trade? Trade for Yashin? Drafting of Michael Rupp? Drafting of Nilsson over Parise? Letting Healy go after the 1993 playoffs?

I won’t get into this too much, because I’m bound to tick off fans either way (“What do you mean? How can you not say __________ was the worst move ever”!) I will share just two thoughts.

The decision I didn’t understand on any level? The drafting of Michael Rupp. Not because he didn’t have some size and ability, but because everyone said at best Michael was going to be a 5-year project, and this was in the day of the mammoth entry-level, 3-year deals when you were forced to decide on prospects quickly.

The move that made my knees buckle? That would be when I was strolling the streets of Calgary, Friday night, 10:15 pm local time and the sun was still out. I got the call we were trading Roberto Luongo and drafting Ricky. The only thing that’s equally incredible is Roberto was drafted 11 years ago and has been on only one playoff team in the NHL.

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