CRIME & PUNISHMENT – Isles Add Chris Botta To Their Hitlist

Isles Castoff Club Gets A New Member – Chris Botta

My pal Nick Giglia calls CB #5 of an illustrious list of those the Isles have removed, pushed out or given some sort of “payback”. I’ve taken the liberty of adding a #6…

1. Greg Logan (BD note: I do not think this was not all Isles here, btw…but they certainly helped)
2. Nick Giglia
3. Billy Jaffe
4. Me
5. Chris Botta
6. YOU?

When I got summarily punished for my Lighthouse Project coverage, there were some supportive words from those across the blogsphere but not many mentions. I understood at the time. I was a small potato who is part of no large site, affiliation or association. But, they missed the bigger point…which should now be clear. Teams will revoke credentials as they wish and want. The Isles seem to think they can and will, whether people deserve it or not…They are using as a weapon and means of control.

So it is unsurprising it accelerated not much later this season as it was used as punishment to the Isles key reporting cog: Chris Botta.

My situation is moot because what I do is a passionate hobby as I work for something else entirely. Plus it doesn’t effect how I do my blog work. For Botta, he has made a commitment and it now hurts his career and coverage. It was done purposely in order to hurt him there.

So as we media, bloggers and fans are at heart outraged by this, there is something beneath that needs to be looked at…and that is the issue between the Isles and Botta. For one thing, I do not believe they pulled the cord due with his private war with Garth Snow. I think Botta makes much more of it than probably the Isles care…especially the GM who has a rebuild and now a coaching change on his hands. Let’s be honest, I think he has more important things to worry about than a former employees feelings.

I also think it has nothing to do with his criticism of the team. Though I do believe both elements have affected their inability of the Isles to address and solve problems. It is very clear in Kimber’s comment to Botta it is far more than just a pissing contest between a jettisoned Media VP and the team GM when he cites Botta’s change from “reporting the news to making the news.” This is about the blog itself and the very influence Botta has.

It is my belief that the Isles and Chris Botta have had a deepset issue for quite a while, left festering. However, since the Isles have shown no will to speak up or communicate issues or problems…a terrible nonconstructive philosophy and business practice. If there is one glaring abject failure in their handling of the Lighthouse Project…something that has fallen as flat as the team on the ice….is that they have let others dictate the issue in the press by going silent. It constantly lets things blow up instead of addressing it head on.

I believe that the Chris Botta Crime & Punishment falls under this same habit and issue. I think an issue had been building up steam, and perhaps the latest salvo it finally boiled it over to an action despite that the Isles never tried to address it with one of their very few, if only, fulltime bloggers. Per Botta, the Isles never communicated any issue directly to him.

That said, it doesn’t matter if they did or not. It has turned to action…

Teams and the NHL consider bloggers responsible for not only what they write but also what goes on their blog throughout. Make no mistake about it to those who tried to glorify Chris and others….he is a blogger, neither a writer nor journalist in his Islanders Pointblank work. Anyone who says different either never read the site. Remember, this is about Pointblank, not his work elsewhere.

PB has been a discussed issue by many a fan, blogger and others over the antics that have gone on to stir up the fanbase over time. Chris and I have argued about this a few times…and will likely always disagree here. Very often, though what he writes might not go over or at least toe a line….it creates a reaction of responses that go far past it. Reading through the comment section is almost reading through a barroom brawl, as sometimes there is pandering to the lowest common denominator. Add whit, but not much wit…though Botta will remove many a post, many remain that I would not allow or at least warn commenter’s on my own site, as would many others would also not allow on the very sites they are using to support Chris Botta.

I think the sitewide issue of how Botta writes, incites and allows as a blog might be the bigger issue here. Though it was been spun as a “nuclear” option…teams have revoked credentials to many bloggers for many things and retain that right. Botta’s Professional Hockey Writers Association seems moot here, because if anyone else without a vast Rolodex, media relations and had PB, looking to join the PHWA, would they have gotten in? I do believe the Isles themselves are making the distinction.

Per one conversation with a member I had….all it really takes to get in to the PHWA is someone vouching for you, which makes it as about as select as the Freemasons (i kid…i kid!).

Let us also not discount the NHL role in all this. You think the Isles didn’t consider or loop someone into this action, think again. I will be you dollar to donuts the NHL knew before the deed was done. Frank Brown, former newspaperman, visited the Isles yesterday over it, but you can be sure they also knew of this before the Isles pulled Botta’s plug.

Ultimately, this will all backfire for the Isles (and perhaps the NHL). I certainly think despite my thoughts on how Botta runs PB, it is a crime against him to pull his credentials. I personally think this is dangerous ground for not only new media, but the hockey teams who seek to punish. All it takes is a lawsuit to dictate legally how they can act than the NHL’s inability to draw up guidelines. For the NHL still has a vast schism between draconian naysayers and blog supporters.

So now the Isles put forth an action with no previous attempt to solve the issue. Mind-boggling, yet par for course. Once again they look silly and idiotic to the rest of the hockey world who still consider them a circus. Accountability, communication, problem solving, and poise seem lost to the brass that now resemble a pile-in to a clown car. They open Pandora’s box, pissing off a fanbase and losing much public support in another bout of poor timing having piggybacked the firing on their coach. All it takes is legal action to swath through the confusion and have hands forced league wide.

What happens if some take the Isles and NHL to court? Might not be so pretty. Just as getting into a media war with a 20 year media flack was just plain stupefying. They are getting destroyed right now.

However, the issue here is also real. There is a precedent of those in the NHL and teams having issue with bloggers and site behavior, putting responsibility on the blogger. This has happened before and will happen again. It is only within open dialogue and through working together that this will be solved. Not by pushing the panic button, looking to punish instead of citing issues, and basically having no dialogue or discussion. The Islanders will stand pat here, ignoring the pressure and stick to their guns. Their rift with Botta is deep and wide. Sadly, because they want it that way.

This kneejerk pull of credentials solves nothing and only lets the fact that the battle between the two has had a negative and detrimental effect on a fanbase who has to pay the price of less coverage. Once again Isles fans pay the price of others actions.

This is something that had NOT changed in the last 15 years.

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About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.

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  1. Mike says:

    Good insight B.D. but if the Isles are making the distinction of CB being a blogger and denying credentials, then couldn’t he pull the plug on pointblank and try to get credentials through Fanhouse or SNY? Do you think they would give it to him then? I don’t think so.

  2. Rich T says:

    Good read, I enjoy Botta work and do agree that the comments section can start a riot and sway others to join the mob. This is a classic case of The Emperor’s New Clothes, if no one is arond to make negative comments then, by default, everything is fine. My only concern, in the end, is that this doesnt effect the minds of our future(ie Tavares, Nino, KO, etc).

  3. 19 Isle in NJ 22 says:

    BD … I was just wondering what you thought about this issue … Thanks for your opinion.

    My opinion on the matter is summed up mostly by your last paragraph.

    I consider the homogenized versions of Islandermania, Islanders website and Newsday’s coverage diluted propaganda … Look … if anyone needs to know the state of the Islanders just look at everything since Ron Hextall’s drubbing in the 1994 playoffs … The only thing we have to hang our hat on since that moment is an exiting 7 game series that we lost, highlighted by a Sean Bates penalty shot goal… When you read Point Blank consistently, that penalty shot goal topic comes up often as if to say “Ahhhhh remember the good Ole Days when Sean gave us a reason to leave our seats and cheer till we lost our voices.”

    BD … I know you’ve been there and back … and I appreciate you sticking to your guns … but for me … the whole thing with Chris as you pointed out was also a communications blackout to us Islander fans sitting on the fringe and beyond with Islander coverage. I’m not going to read the Isles’ fluff website, and I’m not going to read Katie’s Newsday artciles either … even though as a Cablevision subscriber in NJ, I get Newsday’s online version. I think Katie is a good writer … but there has to be something in the back of her head that is unavoidable … and that is … “If I write something negative I’m going the way of Logan, Jaffe and Botta.”

    Oh, I’ll add to Nick’s list of castoffs … mainly in Hockey Ops…

    Nolan
    Smith
    Trottier
    Jankowski
    Gordon

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BDGallof, BDGallof, Jeff Capellini, State of the Isles, Fred Poulin and others. Fred Poulin said: RT @BDGallof: The deeper reasons and rift between Botta & the #Isles – CRIME & PUNISHMENT http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/bdgallof/26400/ [...]

  5. RobC/KO21 says:

    This is a joke! Instead of the Isles having a meeting with Chris to address any issues and to make guidelines they pull the plug, pissing off thousands of fans that are still left…I thought this org was starting to turn the corner but instead we’re in a train wreck…

    BD, were have u been this whole time???

    • Bard says:

      “They Pull the Plug”

      It was Chris who decided to “Suspend IPB indefinitely for reasons out of my control”

      Wang/Snow never forced him to take down IPB, he did that himself knowing how worked up the community would get. His wording didn’t help matters either.

      • MJS says:

        That is an issue I have been having with Point Blank for a while now. More and more Botta was playing on peoples’ emotions with his posts and the vitriol that grew in the comments was huge. For a while he seemed to try to balance his positive and negative posts, but people took his comments section as a forum for venting frustrations with another difficult losing season. In a way, I don’t blame the team for pulling his access. I mean, you have to wonder how many of the players have read his site, and saw what people were saying about them. Even if the players ignored it, having someone with that kind of access that runs a site that undermines what the team is doing only makes things harder. Nevertheless, pulling his credentials was probably a mistake, and really it did allow Botta to make himself the actual story. I dunno, from the losing streak, to firing Gordon, to pulling Botta’s credentials, this is the first time in a little while that I have felt disappointed in everything Islanders. WebBard at Lighthouse Hockey was right, there does seem to be a culture of losing there right now, and everyone in the front office is embracing it…

      • KO21 says:

        Ironically, Botta did end up making the news about himself

    • BDGallof says:

      Sorry…i work for BN.com. Kept me very busy since August. Worked on the new Nook Color that just came out (to great reviews I might add).

      In my stead, Tony and Andre have done a great job. I just weigh in when I can. So there will be some space inbetween my posts.

  6. Fred Poulin says:

    The Islanders organization is a joke on and off the ice. The Botta situation is just another proof of that. I understand why fans don’t attend to games!! If I were an Islander fan, I would be ashamed of how things are handled on the Island.

  7. Ryan says:

    This article’s vague assertions–that the dispute isn’t between Snow and Botta but is due to a larger pattern of Botta “making himself the story”–need some sort of backing. There have only been a handful of instances–the blackout in early ’09 when he made a “Keystone Kops” reference, the Lighthouse insanity in August ’09, trade deadline ’10, and this past week when he referred to Islanders management as paranoid, insecure, with a pathetic desire to control–that could be cause for this kind of reaction. I’ve read every post Botta has ever written, and I can’t think of any other support examples, particularly in the recent past, that would support the charge that Botta is determined to “make himself the story”.

    Yes, Botta is aiming to raise his profile and is ambitious about his media appearances. In this day and age of self-promotion, that’s hardly uncommon or inappropriate. He’s earned himself an extra pass at the self-aggrandizement because of his good work for charities, particularly the Islanders Children Foundation that he is willing to shill at any time.

    Frankly, this one-sided “dispute” between Gallof and Botta seems to derive from when Botta cut Gallof loose in late ’08. I’m not sure how much credibility can be reasonably assigned to this analysis, based on that history.

    • RobC/KO21 says:

      BD has made his feelings known about Botta and you can agree with him or not but this recent analysis has nothing to do with that…Did you read his post???

  8. BDGallof says:

    Your opinion is duly noted, however, you act like Botta and I have not spoken, interacted nor met since. That also the leaving at the time btw was very mutual. I was not happy with what I was writing there…and if you look at how often I wrote from November onward, that argument is crystal clear. So when I got in trouble, seemed a good way for both of us to move on.

    However what I write is my opinion based on my knowledge, understanding, and perceptions. Read or ignore, either way, it doesn’t matter to me.

    As for any Lighthouse work on Botta part,very much disagree. He has pushed their agenda throughout…ESPECIALLY when he was on their payroll.

    The larger patterns between the Isles, which you call vague, is my point that it is NOT Garth vs Isles but Isles brass outside of the hockey ops VS Botta….thus the distinction, point and even your own words seem to belie that the hockey higher mgt would have more an issue that a GM whose main job is not to read the blogs but to run a team.

  9. JT says:

    You are smoking more than that cigar if you don’t think it is personal with Garth and Botta. The man is an ego maniac. Why? I have no idea! He sucked as a goalie and is a total joke as a GM.

  10. Bard says:

    Great work BD, The Islanders didn’t do themselves any favor by the timing or realizing the position Botta holds, but Botta being a former PR guy worked everything perfectly to make himself a martyr. He goes on his media tour, and then as soon as it’s over he announces that IPB’s “Suspension” will be over Friday.

  11. billy says:

    Oh BD,
    great read, but what a mess this team has become.
    My question is this: When (partial IF) the isles ever get it together and we have a winning team again (even after 23 years as a fan its hard to see that altho i wish for it all the time) then does Snow come out of his shell and become accountable?
    As of now, Snow acts like a spoiled brat that doesn’t want to let anyone else play with his toys. Now that Katie is the ONLY reporter for us (until she gets fired for ever speaking her own mind), i’m happy that i get center ice so i can watch the games because im not paying 200 bux to pay for a new york online newspaper when i live in manitoba.
    Another question BD: Why do Snow and Wang do everything they can NOT to sell tickets. By ignoring and in some cases lying (see Ricky D last year) to their fanbase, they’re alienating the only people who even care about this franchise. Now i like what Snow has done with the drafts and certain pickups (not Parenteau), but he has no idea how to do anything else right.

    Don’t take this as a full backing of Botta either, my posts on PB seem to usually go for moderation or even get deleted sometimes altho ive never written anything offensive, derogatory, or nonsensical, so Botta is in a way getting a wee taste of his own medicine, since ive asked why and never received a response. That being said, i love PB.

    Being a fan of the Isles is becoming like a bad dream you never wake up from. I was 13 when Volek won us our last playoff round and the gap between playoff series wins is longer than i was alive for at that point.

    Always a pleasure to read your stuff BD!

  12. SEF says:

    You raise some interesting thoughts. This is the first time I have come across your blog and you no doubt have a point of view. But consider the issue of how a major market team has virtually driven away the independent mainstream coverage of the team. Given the conflicted realities of Cablevision and Newsday the Islanders toil in a Communist State similar to Mainland China or Soviet Union circa 1970.

    I am a frequent reader of Chris Botta’s work. As you promote your premise and point of view consider the position that Chris Botta has taken with respect to Pointblank. Has his role been defined simply as a result of his business model? Or has the Islanders intransience pushed the coverage to evolve in a way that was unintended from the outset when the blog was sponsored by the team.

    Many people consider the media to be the fourth branch of government. While the NHL is private enterprise, everyone in all corners of the media space is empowered to represent the proliteriat. I don’t doubt Chris Botta’s sincerity or willingness to advocate his perspective. He has taken a risk in pursuing these beliefs that few others have been willing to take. The least we can do is advocate his cause against a perverse belief by the Islanders that they can gain from censorship.

  13. NYIFC says:

    http://nhl.fanhouse.com/2010/09/11/2010-11-new-york-islanders-preview-sticking-to-a-plan/

    Botta AOL FANHOUSE 9/11/2010
    We will find out if the Islanders are serious about winning when the unrestricted free agency period brings an important piece to the puzzle, NOT STAGES STORIES like this summer of trying to lure Paul Martin and placing a call to Ilya Kovalchuk.

    Paul Martin’s agent, Ben Hankinson of Octagon Hockey to NYIFC on 9/14/2010 via e-mail
    As I stated before Garth Snow was very aggressive in pursuing unrestricted free agent Paul Martin on July 1, 2010. Garth called my office more than any other NHL GM. Garth directly spoke to Paul on the phone and also had Doug Weight call and speak with Paul. Garth offered more money than any other team. It was not staged. I certainly did not have time on July 1 to waste. I did express our (Paul’s) concerns about playing in an older building when Garth replied “Paul would be sitting on the (bleeping) players bench, not in the stands.” It was not a staged story.

    By all means feel free to contact Mr Hankinson as I did to confirm.

    • billy says:

      I always took stuff like that as a desperate attempt to get Snow to address anything that gets reported.

      If Snow won’t address his supporters or detractors i cant defend him. If Snow wants to only live in a positivity bubble then how about he gives us something positive?

      This whole mess is juvenile, but until Snow learns how to be a stand up guy then he will continue to take heat from everybody and it is deserved.

    • BDGallof says:

      Botta is entitled to be wrong. I thought the blog when I read it from him was in error as well, because I heard quite differently. But that is what happens if someone or something you hear is wrong. I have been wrong publically also….like when I was told by a well placed source that Roloson was 90 to 95% gone at trade deadline. That source or that 5 to 10% chance happened. Isles were never offered much. I stick by it, but looked quite silly. Botta might have had same scenario in part, when a source he trusts is wrong.

      Whether he will admit it plainly….thats the real question. I always try to be in respect to truth and what reality it throughout my writing. I am not so sure those stuck on looking good and with such influence will be so forthright…which you are very right to push on.

  14. Madchef says:

    BD great prospective on this whole mess and seems to make sense. I admit I love PB and read it daily as I do with this site, and lighthouse. I do wish you had more articles dedicated to the isles woes as your insight is well done. I think Isles brass does not help itself with alienating the fan as much as they do but I guess when their is nothing positive to report just say nothing? I can also see why Isles Brass might be unhappy with Bottas posts as of late since even I have raised an eye brow or two on his negativity and the increase in it over the last month(the comment section is also a place where every 10th post actually makes a decent point with most of the other comments just uneducated, scathing, or irrelevant). Being a die hard fan is tough and has been forever now since Volek in OT. It is hard to understand how the team can be worse than last year but they are well on their way to just that. I wish the team was more competitive because then we would have something to talk about besides some blogger and isles management.

  15. Jason says:

    First it giveth then taketh away…

    Wasn’t it the Islanders who gave Botta the IPB platform in the 1st place?? He’s lucky the organization had any interest in his post media relations career.

  16. Stephen says:

    BD You used to be at Hockeybuzz, How is it that the the Toronto and Montreal writers can be super critical of their teams as are the bloggers and no one shuts them down?

    • BDGallof says:

      Here lies an issue…how many of those bloggers have credentials to TO or Montreal. Probably none of those critical or even not critical. Neither team is very blogger friendly.

  17. Neo says:

    I have to say Botta got me back into the Isles. Was always a fan but I moved to the city 9 years ago and starting losing interest, no coverage games on obscure channels, unentertaining product. Bumped into Botta’s blog a few years ago, it was entertaining, pumped up my interest now i go to 4-5 games a year, not crappy seats either (prior 02-08 went to one on friend’s tickets.

    I really don’t care that much about the tit for tat, I have plenty of other things to do and if I lose interest in the Isles so be it. My conclusion here: Isles lose

  18. Big Van Vader says:

    Careful there, BD lest you incur the wrath of Garth and he come for you in the night.

    Bottom line is, we fans, we DIEHARDS, don’t deserve any of this. It’s all too much and its gone on FAR too long.

    The reason we celebrate SHAWN Bates goal and that season is because it’s the ONLY good memory of our team in the 2000′s.

    If Wang doesn’t want to spend a cent more to improve this team and he and Snow continue to use all their power to alienate the fanbase, then all we will HAVE is that 7 game loss to Toronto as our lasting “good” memory.
    Enough is enough and its time for a change.

  19. Isles27 says:

    Gallof interesting comments by Howie Rose OFF AIR during the game too bad we didn’t get to hear what Goring really thinks, do you think he would like to reconsider his prediction of the Isles finishing 8th in the east this season?

  20. [...] I happened to have disagreed with this take. I offer further proof of my opinion in a subsequent post by Botta himself just last week. [...]

  21. [...] “advocacy styled” blog, he began to rub several in the Isles management the wrong way. I addressed this in another blog. This includes Garth Snow. Everyone read Botta’s blog, but soon they were reading it to now [...]