UPDATE: No surprise, Wang released an emphatic denial Thursday afternoon that the Lighthouse project had been abandoned.
What's more surprising to me is the reaction from some in the media / blogging community criticizing the team for letting its fans (and, let's face it, the media / bloggers ) twist in the wind for almost a day before denying the bogus story. Such horror that the "fans were being used" or that the Islanders -- gasp -- liked the story sitting out there.
Fans get used all the time. When they spend $8 for a beer. Or $6 for a bottle of water. Or when they're forced to pay PSLs.
In the case of the Lighthouse, fans were pawns from day one, pushed and pulled from both sides. We should be used to it by now. It's called hardball, and we all knew it was going to come to this.
I'd like to say that this will be my last post about the Lighthouse until a definitive announcement is made: either that the project is approved and shovels will be in the ground, or Wang himself saying that it is dead and that he's either selling the team or considering other sites.
I'll cross my fingers.
I was going to post something about how the Islanders have somehow managed to provide some positives despite an 0-1-3 start -- one that included a blown three-goal, third-period lead -- but then the news dropped on the Long Island Press website that the Lighthouse project is dead.
"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."
The October 3 deadline for Charles Wang's "certainty" came and went, and the season began. But instead of writing about how John Tavares has been everything we expected and more, or how strong the penalty kill has looked, or how Rick DiPietro is making progress in practice, or how it's somewhat refreshing that one of the things the Islanders need to do is learn how to step on the other team's throat when they have it down, I'm writing about the Lighthouse. Again.
So is just about every other blogger in the Blog Box and elsewhere. And rightly so, considering the importance of the project to the team's future.
But I, for one, will hold off on the hand-wringing, the gnashing of teeth, the wailing or the pontificating.
Late Tuesday night, a Newsday blog post noted that no one from the Lighthouse was talking, but that a source close to the project said the project had not been abandoned.
You would think that after all the time and money and energy spent, Wang and the Lighthouse Development Corp. wouldn't just walk away, not this quickly. And do you really think the Oct. 3 deadline was just a way to give Wang an out, so he could say, "Hey, we tried."
I doubt it.
Maybe Wang is indeed shifting personnel to other projects. He said himself he would explore other options. Word gets out, a story is posted on the web (on the site of a free newspaper, sure, but one that's done some good work), there's no immediate comment from the team -- no denials as of 12:40 a.m. Thursday, anyway -- suddenly the stakes are raised even higher. Maybe he's serious! He can't wait on the Lighthouse forever. He's making other plans!
It's just pressure. It's Wang calling Kate Murray's bluff.
I'll show you how serious I am.
We'll see how this all pans out, but my sense is that it's just another move in the game that the Long Island Press says Wang is tired of playing.
For fans, though, it isn't a game. We wish games were all we had to worry about.