For the past three-plus years there has been no more authoritative voice on the New York Islanders than Chris Botta.
For the 20 years prior he served the same organization, including about half that time as Vice President of Communications, working day in and day out to promote the team on Long Island.
What happened these past few days hasn't exactly been a warm "thank you."
Botta, whose Islanders Point Blank blog, one would guess, is the most popular of its kind, had his press credential revoked for supposedly having gone, according to team management, from "reporting the news to making himself the news."
What that might translate to is "not reporting the news the Islanders want to hear".
The team didn't seem to appreciate the honesty in Botta's reporting. Issues, which clearly already existed last season when GM Garth Snow refused to be interviewed by Botta after the trade deadline, likely only got worse when he wrote about the refusal in plain terms on the website.
The final "insult" may have been Botta's comments in the wake of Scott Gordon's dismissal earlier this week, which culminated in a post on the site:
"There’s one significant long-term problem with the Islanders’ rebuilding program, and I believe the organization - deep down - knows it, too. A lot of it has to do with luck and timing. But yes, one of these days the Islanders have to start running the franchise like a professional outfit - not a mom-and-pop store where a few good friends make decisions and tell themselves they can’t wait to prove everybody wrong…one of these years!"
Before the newest incarnation of his site took off, Botta said that "the goal of Point Blank is to provide constant coverage and honest analysis of the Islanders from an original perspective."
Should it have come as a surprise when he delivered on that promise? He is a reporter. He's going to deliver the news, even if it's less than complimentary.
Maybe it's just me, but when a team has only won 95 times in its last 246 games, not everything written about them is going to be beaming with positivity. Even so, Botta has produced volumes of coverage, probably 99 percent of which has still been positive.
My question is, how can this team deny ANYONE who wants to write about them? Whether it's a newspaper reporter, a blogger, or child with sidewalk chalk, a team that is hemorrhaging money and lacking in both interest and any form of success on the ice needs every bit of press it can get.
Almost 7,000 people a month search for some form of the phrase "Islanders Point Blank" on Google. About 50,000 links point to his site from different places on the web. To put that first number into context, 1,300 people a month search for "New York Islanders tickets," a number that will only shrink with more decisions like this.
It's highly doubtful that anything has done more for the team's presence online than Botta and Point Blank.
Here's to hoping that the Islanders realize that before it's too late.
(Ed. Note: Chris was on our show three weeks ago, and I'm disgusted at the way he's been treated by the Islanders organization. He's one of the best in the blogosphere and one the hardest-working bloggers you'll come across. His Point Blank blog is a great place for Isles fans to find the latest news on the team; but that access to the team has been yanked away. Another suspicious move from New York's 'other' team.)
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