The Hockey News - Money & Power
LOU LAMORIELLO HAS dealt with numerous owners over more than three decades as an NHL GM. The three-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils did not know Scott Malkin when the co-owner of the New York Islanders requested from the Toronto Maple Leafs during the playoffs last spring to meet with Lamoriello about heading up his team’s hockey operations. “I waited several weeks, because I wasn’t sure it even was something I wanted to even think about. But I did meet him out of respect, and I was extremely impressed right away,” said Lamoriello, who was hired by the Islanders in May as their president and GM. “I was impressed with his commitment, with his vision and certainly what he wants to do with the new arena, and also that he wanted to give the autonomy to do the job that he was talking to me about.
“There is nothing he has said that he would do that he hasn’t done. He’s kept his commitment, he’s kept his word and he’s allowed us to take whatever steps are necessary for the franchise to have success.”
The team’s fan base is hoping Malkin learned a hard lesson in that regard after star center John Tavares bolted for Toronto via unrestricted free agency in July. According to multiple reports, it was the principal owner’s decision to not allow since-fired GM Garth Snow to explore dealing the Isles captain at last season’s trade deadline.
Still, the 76-year-old Lamoriello has dealt with and thrived under owners as diverse as John McMullen and George Steinbrenner in New Jersey to Larry Tanenbaum in Toronto, so his opinion of Malkin atop the Islanders’ present hierarchy is no minor endorsement.
Malkin, 59, hails from one of New York’s and Connecticut’s most prominent and philanthropic families – his maternal grandfather, Lawrence Wien, and his father, Peter Malkin, headed a real-estate syndicate that controlled such local landmarks as the Empire State Building and several premier hotels, including the Plaza and St. Moritz.
After earning multiple degrees from Harvard, Malkin founded London-based Value Retail PLC in 1992, a syndicate of high-end European retail shopping outlets with approximate annual sales of $2.3 billion in 2011.
Malkin and former Harvard roommate Jon Ledecky purchased a minority interest in the Islanders from Charles Wang in 2014, before converting that to a majority stake two years later for a reported price of $485 million. The family of Wang, who died on Oct. 21 at 74, and Dewey Shay remain minority shareholders.
To that end, Lamoriello made it clear that he deals primarily with Malkin on any and all hockey matters associated with the team. And he stressed that Ledecky – a former part-owner of the Washington Capitals whose niece, Katie, is a fivetime Olympic gold medalist in swimming for the United States – “has no involvement whatsoever with the hockey side.” Instead, Ledecky concentrates on the procurement and construction of the team’s planned arena at Belmont Park.
Arena issues have been a central concern for the franchise for decades – since the ’80s Stanley Cup dynasty ended – bridging various neg- ligent (John Pickett, Howard Milstein) and fraudulent (John Spano) ownership configurations. The Islanders are splitting their home games this season between Barclays Center in Brooklyn and their former longtime home, Nassau Coliseum. The new arena on Long Island is scheduled to open during the 2021-22 season. “It’s extremely important, because that’s all part of Scott’s vision and passion for the franchise,” Lamori- ello said. “I’ve absolutely been very fortunate with the people that I’ve worked for, allowing you to do your job and allowing you to build a pyramid where there’s a chain of command and not interference, and an owner being an owner and not a general manager or president.
“Scott has held to that 100 percent. He’s giving us whatever resources are necessary to have success, certainly within reason, like anything else. But his word and his commitment to this point have been exceptional.” – PETER BOTTE