The PHWA Voting Boycott & “The Little Things”ShareThis
New Puck Daddy: I broke down “the little things” from last night’s Bruins/Rangers game and the San Jose Sharks/LA Kings game. I think I did a nice job, actually. It kind of reads like what being in a video session feels like, please check this one out.
A disclaimer: everyone knows the Islanders are “my” team. My dad and father-in-law won cups there, I tried out there….I root for them. I want to stay in their good graces, but I have to think that’s probably getting less and less likely.
Point is, I love the team, but I refuse to sprinkle sugar on things when I think they’ve done something wrong – hopefully that lets you better trust that when it’s your team getting fired upon, it’s not some inherent bias against them. I try to be even-handed with everyone.
Anyway, I’ll stick with the team through thick, thin, and this anorexia we’re dealing with lately, but man… they gotta clean it up out there on the Island. Just trying to be fair.
Awhile back the New York Islanders pulled the credential of Chris Botta – the same Chris Botta who was their VP of media relations at one point, and the same Chris Botta that ran Islanders Point Blank, a blog the team themselves sponsored (and incidentally, the first place to ever run my work outside of this site).
They pulled it because “he went from reporting the news to making the news,” which everybody around the situation understood actually meant “he really doesn’t say anything nice about us and we don’t really get along.”
He may not have, but he ran that blog (as well as wrote for AOL Fanhouse) over the past few years where the Isles finished with a lottery pick every time. So…. he’s supposed to lie? Say the team was doing great? You can only talk about the future so much.
Anyway, as a result of this action, three chapters of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association - the group of people who vote on the end-of-season individual awards like the Hart, Norris, Selke and more - are boycotting the vote this year (the chapters are the Rangers, Isles and Devils writers).
It’s become a bit of a thing.
My boss, Greg Wyshynski wrote about it this morning over at Puck Daddy, and did a nice job explaining why he’s still going to vote, despite supporting those who choose to boycott.
Here’s my take: the writers who chose to boycott have already accomplished something worthwhile, and kudos to them for that. They may not have got Botta his credential back (yet), but they have brought more attention to what was really an egregious overreaction by a team that was trying to control the message, a massive sin when it comes to dealing with the media that reports on your team, in this writer’s opinion.
The boycotting PHWA members have accomplished a public shaming of a professional sports franchise, as we all seem to be taking turns (justifiably) wagging our finger at the Islanders decision pull Botta’s credential.
Could you imagine if, say, the Seattle Seahawks did what they did? Fans would still have sackfuls of other blogs to read, as well as other opinions from people with access. Islanders fans needed Botta and valued his insight, so in a way, a knuckle or two of the backhand they threw at Chris caught them on the cheek too.
I don’t envy the team’s PR department these days, which is a shame, because there is more bright young talent on that roster to sell to fans than I can remember (with another top pick to come!). They even slashed season ticket prices which should have garnered them great PR, only they don’t get to reap the rewards because, as Wysh put it, they went the nuclear route with Botta, and now they’re buried under the rubble from their own bomb.
If I were a member of the PHWA, I think I’d be on that same page as Wysh, if for no other reason than you’d still want to keep the right to vote – it’s a transparent process right now, voting is a bit of an honor, and if you let the league pick the winners in-house, they can use it as another promotional tool. Crosby wins the Hart! Oh wait, his career is over due to concussion? Create a new star, Stamkos wins the Hart! (Not that they’d ever do that, it’s just nice to keep accusations like this from fans out of the discussion.)
I think the boycott has already been a good thing (they’ve surely raised enough eyebrows to be granted an audience by Mr. Bettman about this situation some time in the future, I would think), and the PHWA should carry on as usual from here.
What comes of Chris Botta’s situation is yet to fully unfold, but hopefully things get ironed out in a positive way for him as well. He deserves it.