That the New York Islanders will miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season has long been a foregone conclusion.
Still, the expected became reality Saturday afternoon when the Islanders were formally eliminated from postseason play following their 6-3 loss to the Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders were a trendy pick to reach the playoffs before the season began, despite last qualifying for the playoffs in 2007.
So in an atmosphere of unfulfilled expectations, Charles Wang spoke with MSG Network in a wide-ranging interview before yesterday’s 5-1 matinee loss to Ottawa at the Coliseum
“I want to thank the fans for their support. I know it’s been a year with its ups and downs,” Wang told Howie Rose. “I’m really looking forward to next season.”
Wang’s public comments were his first since the night of Aug. 1. Wang bitterly complained that night that “sound bites rule the day and not facts,” after Nassau County residents decisively voted against allowing the county to use public funds to build a new arena.
The Islanders’ lease at Nassau Coliseum expires after the 2014-15 season. Wang and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman have routinely stated that the Islanders will not play in the Coliseum past the 2014-15 season.
The Coliseum, the league’s second-oldest active arena after Madison Square Garden, has come under increased scrutiny after recent reports of asbestos claims against the building.
Wang used the television platform to express his dissatisfaction with the political boondoggle surrounding the building of a new arena.
“I think everyone knows how disappointed and frustrated I am with the whole process. Whether it’s the town [of Hempstead], the county, all the political stuff,” Wang said. “We want to be and we should be in the New York area.
“We believe we will be in the New York area,” Wang said. He later added: “Everybody should be held accountable. We, as citizens, should hold all the ones we elect accountable.”
But where is the unanswered question. Suffolk County has been mentioned as a potential destination, as has been Willets Point, Queens, and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Islanders will play a preseason game against the Devils at the Barclays Center on Oct. 2.
Wang said he “did not think it was wise to comment,” when asked if he had been in talks with Barclays Center officials. However, he was effusive in his praise of the soon-to-be-opened arena.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Wang said. “I’m a little jealous, obviously. I think you can understand why.”
The owner also touched on the subject of improving the on-ice product. The Islanders have long been among the league’s lowest payroll teams for years. Wang was circumspect when asked if he would spend in free agency.
“When you improve the team, it isn’t only spending money. It’s bringing in the right kind of talent,” Wang said, while publicly supporting general manager Garth Snow and coach Jack Capuano. “We’re committed to building from within.”
Follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.