Jon Ledecky has caused quite a stir over the past week and I’ve been there to witness a lot of it.
On Wednesday, I joined several of the other media members in the New York area for a lunch hosted by the Islanders’ new co-owner. Then, on Thursday, he spoke at a Town Hall event at Barclays Center in front of hundreds of season ticket holders.
I think it’s safe to say we all left feeling pretty impressed by a spirited Ledecky.
He opened up the gathering with the media on Wednesday by sharing a personal story.
After growing up in Brooklyn and Queens, the Ledecky family eventually moved to Greenwich, Connecticut. One day, Jon was walking his basset hound around the neighborhood when a women stopped him and asked about the dog. She then asked if he was new to town and followed up with a request for his name and phone number. A few days later that women called his house and invited him and the dog to her home where she was hosting a party for the owners of basset hounds in Greenwhich.
That woman was co-owner Scott Malkin’s mother.
Little did they know, that chance encounter would be the beginning of a 44-year friendship between the Islanders’ new owners.
Malkin played hockey in high school and Ledecky worked on the student newspaper covering the sport. They both ended up attending Harvard and now are thrilled to be working together as majority owners of the New York Islanders.
That was the first big story I heard Jon tell this week. There were dozens more over the next 36 hours. I can’t share them all or my fingers will fall off from typing so much. But here is what I’ve learned.
LEDECKY CARES ABOUT THE TEAM AND THE FANS
The 58-year-old wants to make coming to an Islanders game the most desirable sporting event to attend in New York. He wants it to be a hot spot for free agents. He’s willing to spend to the cap, and scofted at the idea of John Tavares becoming a free agent because he belongs in an Islanders sweater.
Ledecky wants a Stanley Cup soon, and promised the season ticket holders last night, that WHEN not IF the team wins the cup, they will get replica rings.
LEDECKY LIKES INTERACTING WITH FANS
I met a little girl named Sabine Vockins from Brooklyn last night. Her dad Derek told me this fantastic story … Sabine was with her mom and some friends walking down 5th Avenue in the city wearing an Islanders shirt. A man walked up to her on the street and said “are you and Islanders fan?” She said yes, and he explained that his name was Jon Ledecky and he was one of the team’s owners. Ledecky then followed up with the parents and invited Sabine and some friends to be his guest at a game at Barclays Center. He even brought her down after the game to meet her favorite player Casey Cizkas!
HE WANTS TO HEAR FROM THE FANS AND THE MEDIA
Going from table to table at Wednesday’s lunch Ledecky said several times, “Keep writing and reporting your stories the good and the bad. When we drop the ball, let us know so we can fix it.” The same goes for his message to fans. He spent time before and after the Town Hall event talking with fans and hearing what they like and don’t like about attending Islanders games. I watched him write ideas down for a good hour after the event in between taking pictures with season ticket holders.
LEDECKY HAS BEEN RESEARCHING WHAT NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED AND HOW TO DO IT FOR TWO YEARS
This was not a new revelation for me this week. I’ve seen Ledecky at home games wondering the concourse talking to fans. He also traveled to nearly 80 percent of the away games this past season. A few organizations stood out in his travels. The Blackhawks (hey I think we would all be pretty happy with three Cups in six years), the Wild, (great game watching experience) and the Canadiens (he called Montreal the “citadel of hockey.”)
I’m excited to see how the next several years unfold for the Islanders both on the ice and for the fans as they experience watching the game at Barclays Center.
Ledecky has made some really strong statements about his vision for the team and the organization.
I truly hope it all comes to fruition and the team, ownership, and fans can rejoice together with a fifth Stanley Cup banner hanging in the rafters.