The majority of owners of major league teams prefer not to get too close to the customers, but not Jon Ledecky - the very public face of Islanders ownership.
There he is, riding the LIRR with fans, sometimes with a reporter nearby, and often with a publicist or social media staffer to capture all of the endearing interactions with fans.
There's Ledecky after the win in Las Vegas on Jan. 25, visiting with a passionate pack of die-hards for a few beverages - posted for posterity on the Islanders' Twitter feed.
There he is, giving his patented thumbs-up at Islanders' home games and community events, smiling with fans for photos seen regularly on all team social platforms.
And there, with an MSG Network camera focused on him, is Ledecky in a Barclays suite among friends on his birthday, pumping his fist during the Islanders' comeback win over the Red Wings on Feb. 9. Know this: the home team broadcast does not air those moments without an approving nod from the man who owns the team.
And you know what? That's all beautiful. Ledecky and his business partner, Scott Malkin, have made a massive investment in this troubled franchise, and have a deal in place to finally build the arena the club and its fans deserve. Ledecky should enjoy it however he wants.
However, in the two and a half months since the announcement that an arena will grow in Elmont, the Islanders have sailed on that glorious wave of emotion by…. well, they've won 11 of 33 games. Should Ledecky be given a pass for wanting it both ways - for being all over the place with the cameras on him in the happy moments, and absolutely nowhere to be found when tough times call for a stand-up executive?
The easy answer, of course, is he's the owner…he can do whatever he wants.
However, this isn't your typical business and, heaven knows, not your typical sports franchise. The Islanders, as much as any team in these parts, are a public trust. Ledecky, Malkin, the Wilpons, the Oak View Group, and the rest of their partners, no matter how much money they are shelling out, do not get the Elmont arena without the promise of the fans supporting this team in big numbers. Everyone, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, knew the last thing the Metropolitan area needed was another sports and entertainment venue.
Whenever it is completed, this arena is for the Islanders and their fans.
From #IslesTwitter to rallies to billboards and especially every time there is just a hint of exciting potential with this club, Islanders fans let their voices be heard. So why not the leader of the franchise?
It is quite the alarming contrast - disingenuous, really - that Ledecky is all too willing to pose for the cameras, and give the green light to have those pictures published on Islanders platforms, and yet have nothing of value to say to the customers.
(Over the weekend, I reached out to Ledecky's personal press reps, who declined a request for an interview, saying Ledecky "isn't available for interviews right now." Believe me, I wasn't optimistic, but you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. I do hope Ledecky will speak soon with the two outlets that cover his team regularly, and spend the money to report on the road - Newsday and The Athletic).
Of course, sincerely confident and bold organizations have alternatives to the news media if they want to tell their story. Although we won't know the results of the Rangers' recent tear-down for a while, say this for them: they had a clear plan, articulated it beautifully to the public, and executed it. After taking their eye off the ball last season, the ownership of the New York Giants figured it out and cleaned house - including Jerry Reese, who was named GM in 2007, and managed the team to two Super Bowl victories.
On the other hand, GM-since-2006/manager-of-8th-place-dreams Garth Snow - who in a feat of wizardry has the title of President, General Manager, and Alternate Governor - has never demonstrated any ability to lead in his nearly twelve years in the front office. In his duty as head of hockey operations, the painful win-loss record is the only report card that matters. As a communicator to the public, he's an unmitigated disaster.
But in sports, everyone reports to someone. At the Islanders, everyone ultimately answers to Ledecky, who sits at the very top of the team's staff directory. Ledecky may not carry the title of CEO, but he is the chief executive.
In an interview on Boomer Esaison's radio show after the Elmont deal was announced, the owner waved off a question about the state of his struggling hockey team. "GMs GM," Ledecky said, implying that he gets out of the way, and lets his hockey people make hockey decisions.
But we know that's not true, starting with the facts that he is very involved in the efforts to re-sign John Tavares, and put the hammer down in the firing of Jack Capuano. No one is buying that Ledecky is not a hands-on owner.
Beginning two years ago, Ledecky made the decision to be front-and-center and drop little nuggets about how the Islanders will be "world-class," and the only goal is a "fifth ring." Let's face it: wouldn't you enjoy the power, and wouldn't you be a little bit pithy with the comments if you had the money to buy an NHL team?
No one begrudges him that, which is why every Islander fan rightfully shows him the proper respect when they see him on the train, on the Barc concourse, at Umberto's - and this should never, ever change. By all accounts, he's a good man who desperately wants to get this right. There are many professional sports team owners who aren't so easy to root for.
Now, it's time for Ledecky to come to terms with the notion that he cannot flash that wide smile for the cameras after victories, and hide when the losses and questions pile up. Ledecky is the leader of the New York Islanders, and a nation of fans who have been through an unparalleled quarter-century of crap play, and ownership follies have turned their eyes to him.
Ledecky should not look away.