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Ledecky wants Isles to be ‘world class’

New Co-Owner Eager to Rebuild NHL Team’s Brand Here in Brooklyn

July 14, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky will be front and center when it comes to discussing the team’s ongoing pursuit of its first Stanley Cup title since 1983. Photo by Associated Press
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After waiting silently behind the scenes for the better part of two years to officially take his place as co-owner of Downtown’s New York Islanders on July 1, JonLedecky wasted little time Wednesday afternoon when finally given theopportunity to address the NHL franchise’s new direction.

“We should be the world-class destination for free agents,” Ledecky, whopurchased the team from Charles Wang in 2014, along with long-time friend Scott Malkin, emphasized during his first official sit down with local and national media at a Manhattan luncheon.

“You think about a [salary-cap] world, everybody can spend to the cap, and we certainly have no constraints on our GM and our staff to spend,” the former Washington Captials’ majority owner added. “We want to create and continue toprogress towards [team captain] John Tavares lifting that Stanley Cup, so weshould be world-class in everything we do.”

Ledecky’s enthusiasm to return the Islanders to the place they inherited during the halcyon days of the 1980s, when they captured four consecutive Stanley Cups and reached the Finals in five straight years, was palpable.

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He intimated that he was fully behind the current regime of general manager Garth Snow and head coach Jack Capuano, who have led the Brooklyn-based franchise to the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, and delivered the team’s first playoff series win since 1993 earlier this year.

Even more importantly for Brooklyn hockey aficionados, Ledecky quickly shotdown continuing rumors that the Isles could head back to Long Island, as per anout-clause in their lease agreement here that would allow them to move following the fourth year of the initial 25-year pact.
“Barclays Center is our home,” Ledecky insisted. “There’s all sorts of things outthere about playing games [at the Nassau Coliseum]. The NHL has a pretty strictrule that they set the schedule, not us.

We have to make Barclays the new home of the Islanders and make it the best experience,” he added. “That does mean making sure the fans don’t have an excuse not to come. So if the excuse is the Long Island Rail Road is not providing optimal service, I’ve got to fix that. If the suggestion is run buses from the parking lot of the old Nassau Coliseum, I’ve got to look into that.
While Wang was as behind-the-scenes an owner as you will find in any major prosports franchise, Ledecky revealed that he is anxious to be out front in leading the Isles, taking advice from fans and letting them know how he feels about their sentiments regarding the team.

“I want to be out there and I want to hear what the fans have to say,” Ledecky said.“Being invisible for two years, your picture’s not in the newspaper or online. I’ve talked to hundreds of fans anonymously and not posing as the owner, just posing as a fan. Sometimes wearing a coat and tie, so a couple of times they thought that I was the usher and asked where the seats were.”

“What I love is the fans come to me with all these ideas and I try to run them down,” he noted. “But we are meeting consistently with Barclays and Long Island Rail Road. They ran extra trains for the playoffs. I said to the head of Long Island Rail Road, ‘How come you can’t do that during the regular season? They said,‘Maybe we can.’

A shift in ownership and attitude, however, can’t take the focus off the product the Isles will put on the ice during Season Two at Barclays Center this coming winter.

The team lost coveted free-agent forwards Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin while adding front-liners Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera.

Snow, who went straight from back-up goalie to GM a decade ago, will likely be the first domino to fall if those moves don’t result in the Isles at least getting as far as they did last season, when they knocked off Florida in a thrilling first-round playoff series before being ousted by Tampa Bay in the conference semifinals.

But for now, Ledecky will stick with the status quo, as long as Snow and Capuanocontinue to make progress.

“Winning fixes a lot of things, but you still in a world where there’s a sports dollar that’s being competed for, you have to supply your stockholders, who are the fans, you’ve got to supply them with a world-class experience,” Ledecky said.

Isle Have Another: The Isles signed late-season sparkplug Alan Quine to a two-year deal Wednesday after the 23-year-old had two goals and four assists duringthe team’s playoff run last season. Quine, a 6-foot center from Belleville, Ontario, netted the game-winning overtime tally in Game 5 of New York’s first-round series against the Panthers. … On Tuesday, Snow inked defenseman Scott Mayfield, also 23, to a two-year pact. Mayfield scored his first career NHL goal during a six-game stint with the Isles last season, also amassing 11 penalty minutes.

The Isles’ co-tenants at Barclays, the Brooklyn Nets, continued to fill out their roster this week.

The Nets officially announced the signings of veteran forward Luis Scola andGreivis Vasquez, while reportedly adding forward Anthony Bennett and guards Joe Harris and Randy Foye.

“Luis and Greivis are ideal fits for the team culture we are building in Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks. “Both are terrific competitors who will provide leadership and veteran experience to our locker room. Luis adds toughness, scoring and passing ability to our frontline, while Greivis is effective from either backcourt position, both as a facilitator and a scorer.” 

Brooklyn also officially signed its first-round pick Caris LeVert, who was acquired on a draft night trade with Indiana in exchange for Thaddeus Young.

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