Isles Look Towards Season Following Referendum Defeat

The defeat of the August 1 referendum that would have allowed Nassau County, the municipality the New York Islanders call home, to borrow $400 million to build a new arena in the Nassau Hub means that the Isles will begin the 2011-12 season in a state of uncertainty.

During a late night press conference at the Coliseum, team owner Charles Wang and general manager Garth Snow did their best to bring attention to the upcoming season. Training camp opens in early September and Wang and Snow both say they are looking forward to the upcoming season.

“Training camp opens next month so hockey is right around the corner,” Wang said during the press conference. “I can’t wait till the puck drops at our home opener, October 8th at 8pm.”

“We now have a season to concentrate on with a team that is bursting with a young core of talent sprinkled with the right mix of veterans. This combination will bode well for the last 4 years of our lease.”

While Wang may be boasting about his team this upcoming season, the Islanders have not made a huge splash in the free agent market, partly to do with the teams continued state of uncertainty in Nassau County. The Islanders made traded for the negotiating rights of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, but were spurred by him in favor of going to the Buffalo Sabres. But despite the lack of moves Snow sees them as having been able to make the jump to playoff team.

“We’re a young team that has gained a lot of experience,” Snow said following the press conference. “We’re looking to win hockey games, get into the playoffs and give our fans something to cheer about.”

Snow was mum on his response to how he was feeling about the turnout of the vote, but when asked if he was “heartbroken” he said absolutely, and “those are accurate words to describe how everyone feels here.”

However, he maintained that his focus was on the hockey operations side of things and on the upcoming season.

“My focus has been building a championship-caliber team,” Snow said on Monday evening. “Four years ago we set out on this rebuild and we went through some growing pains and some tough times, but our fans are going to see the fruits of those labors starting in September. I’m excited for this season and for me as the general manager right on through to the coaches and players to focus on taking this team to the next level.”

It will be a chaotic several weeks and months for the Islanders organization and their fans, but for now all focus will be on the upcoming season.