This was Gary Bettman with reporters yesterday at the Coliseum, when asked what happens if Charles Wang and Scott Rechler do not get a deal to transform the arena and surrounding property:
"I don't want to have that conversation. This team has a great history and tradition here, and this team needs a new arena. My hope and expectation is they're going to get it. The focus is not about threats or what could happen. It's not that I'm not denying it. I'm not confirming it. All we're thinking is: 'How does this team get its arena as quickly as possible?"
Understand how this likely worked. The NHL commissioner, along with General Colin Powell, were guests in Charles Wang's suite for the game. When it was decided Bettman would be available to the media at intermission, no question he and Wang had a discussion about how the league should play this one. It may very well have gone something like this:
"Charles, do I even hint at the possibility of you losing patience and having to consider alternatives"?
Despite the economy, I would not lose sleep over Wang and Rechler's ability to acquire financing for the project. I would not be concerned about the Islanders owner ever pulling a Bob Irsay-Baltimore move, lease or not.
The Town of Hempstead and the County of Nassau getting its act together? That, I don't think anyone could ever guarantee.