Charles Wang to buy the New York Islanders

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The Independent Online

Once again the New York Islanders are set to change hands.

Computer Associates chief Charles Wang has agreed to buy the faltering National Hockey League team, Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta said on Tuesday.

Wang, purchasing the club from Howard and Edward Milstein and Steven Gluckstern, will be the fourth owner of the Islanders since 1997 - pending league approval.

Details of the reported $175 million deal are expected to be announced at a news conference today.

"We have a deal," Gulotta told radio station WINS in New York. "Charles Wang will be the new owner of the Islanders."

Gulotta said Wang has committed to keep the Islanders in Nassau County and looks forward to restoring the team's hockey legacy.

The county executive said he and Wang discussed a new arena to replace Nassau Coliseum, but no agreement has been reached.

"The ownership of the franchise is the first step," Gulotta said.

The Islanders have played their games at the Coliseum since coming into the NHL in 1972.

The Milstein brothers and Gluckstern purchased the franchise in 1998 after businessman John Spano's tenure ended in disgrace when he was convicted on wire fraud charges. Spano's deal with owner John Pickett fell apart when he failed to meet payment deadlines for the purchase.

Almost immediately, there was controversy over conditions in the Coliseum and the Milsteins and Gluckstern threatened to move, even talking about playing some home games in other arenas.

The Coliseum is owned by Nassau County, and leased until 2015 to SMG - a Philadelphia management company.

The Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83, but the team has hit hard times. They finished 24-49-9-1 this season for 58 points, third-worst in the league.

New York, the league's youngest team, missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season, and has not had a winning season since 1992-93.