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
5. Chris Botta
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.
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.