I’m actually writing one of my few posts over here on the Islanders because I don’t want to start a flame war anywhere else and I feel like this is marginal news at best. But on some sites you’d think it was the end of the world and part of a huge conspiracy to silence any critics of the Isles. Look, if Scientology which has a whole special organization to chase down it’s critics can’t silence them, I’m pretty sure the Islanders can’t silence critics.
The Islanders pulled Chris Botta’s press creds. Chris Botta is also the man behind Islanderspointblank.com. He had the press creds not for point blank, but for AOL Fanhouse and SNY. The Islanders reasoning behind this from a spokesman who talked to Newsday:
The reasons behind the action are not entirely clear. Team spokesman Kimber Auerbach said, “We funded his blog for the first year. When that changed he went from reporting the news to making the news.”
Auerbach added, “We have not stopped his blog. There are lots of bloggers out there who write from their homes, their couch, outside the arena. He just won’t have access.”
Anyone anywhere can start a blog writing about the Islanders. There are plenty of good Islanders bloggers who don’t have press creds that are able to get along just fine. This reeks more of “I’m going to take my ball and go home” of a six year old. He also knew exactly how some of the more crazy elements of the Islanders fanbase would react. In their minds, behind the scenes Wang and Snow somehow had Islanders Point Blank stopped and it’s part of the grand conspiracy which saw Jaffe get fired for being “too critical” A reason which makes almost no sense, and with the Islanders releasing no reason on why. Newsday claimed that MSG (who broadcasts Islanders games) had a multi-year contract but the Isles have final say and blocked it. The Islanders of course never released any official announcement, and the only source of this rumor is from Newsday (which is owned by the Dolans, who own MSG, the Knicks and Rangers).
Look, if in the long run it comes out that the Islanders had a hand in shutting down IPB and got rid of Jaffe because he was critical, shame on them on a multitude of levels. I just tend not to believe Rumors and Sources when no one is willing to put a name on it. Also the always interesting position of Newsday in all of this, which is owned by the Dolans who own MSG and the Knicks and the Rangers is a bit worrisome. Considering that MSG does almost nothing to advertise the Islander games and seems to find every reason to black them out, why should any Islander fan trust anything coming from Newsday?
The whole situation is a mess. Botta doesn’t exactly help himself when a number of people have seen him steer the comments on the blog via moderation. He might claim to not have control over what people say in his comments, but I’ve talked to plenty of people who are intelligent Islanders fans who see their comment eternally in moderation while the crazier commentators are allowed to run wild. Don’t forget that Botta is a PR Guy at heart, he knows how to play that game.
Update: Botta has re-opened Islanderspointblank.com. Of course one might point out that since the website never came down, it was never really “closed”. Either way, when you look at the situation, it’s a strange series of moves by Botta. He cryptically announces that he has to close IPB and that it’s beyond his control. He then leaves a message at Islandersmania.com about the situation. But Islandersmania has closed registration, meaning if you weren’t signed up for an account there you couldn’t see the post first hand. Now why that post on IM couldn’t have been point on IPB or his Fanhouse page which requires no registration is odd. It means that the story left itself to be twisted as people heard it from secondary sources. On top of it all, during his “Press Tour” Botta admitted as much that he didn’t NEED the Press Credentials to blog on IPB, which is something people (including me) pointed out earlier in this mess.
I’m sorry, but even if the Islanders are wrong, the whole thing comes off as Botta playing up for a story. He goes from well known among the Islanders with some national presence among hockey followers, to a full story on Puck Daddy, a long segment with the big name NYC Sports talker Mike Franseca, an Appearance on the VS show OverTime tonight and he was talked about with Bettman today on the NHL Hour show. He handled it and worked the situation in such a way as to fully benefit himself, without regard to anyone else. To purposely rile up the Islanders fanbase on what is a minor issue and to only serve your own ego is shameful.
There’s one other thing I want to talk about, the Islanders rebuild. With the recent team struggles a lot of people are down about it. But people are missing how badly Mike Milbury left the Islanders prospect wise and how long it takes a prospect to mature.
The Islanders had 42 Draft picks between 2001 and 2005. The most successful picks? Frans Nielsen (3rd Round 2002) Blake Comeau (2nd Round 2004) Chris Campoli (7th Round 2004) and Bruno Gervais (6th Round 2003). It’s not looking good for Comeau right now, or Campoli and Bruno for that matter to have long term NHL careers. All three are struggling currently.
Every single first rounder could be considered a Bust or a Bust for the Islanders. The best of the batch is Sean Bergenheim (2002) who the Islanders let go but managed to catch on with Tampa this year. The other picks? Robert Nilsson (now in Europe), Petteri Nokelaine (in Europe now) Ryan O’Marra (Can’t make the Oilers roster).
So the whole first half of this decade was almost a complete throw away draft wise.
Starting with 2006 (the first post Milbury draft) there was a definite move away from European player and towards High School and young North American prospects. While this has lead to a lot more players in the system, it does take longer to see the results from a draft class.
For reference, only 1 player remains with the Islanders from the 2005 class, Dustin Kohn. O’Marra was part of the Ryan Smyth trade, while the rest were busts.
But the 2006 draft of 13 picks currently has Kyle Okposo and Andrew MacDonald at the NHL level. Jesse Joensuu, Robin Figern, Rhett Rakshani, Tomas Marcinko on the AHL level and Brian Day and Shane Sims are both promising College Seniors.
So while the prospects have been stocked, it’s still going to take more time until a lot of them are ready to play in the NHL full time. Looking at two teams who have recently rebuilt, the Kings and Blackhawks, the drafts of the early 00s definitely helped them.
For example the Kings only have the following players on their roster from drafts starting with 2006:
Jonathon Bernier (backup goalie) (2006 1st Round)
Wayne Simmonds (2007 2nd Round)
Drew Doughty (2008 1st Round)
But from 2001-2005 theres
And the Kings were able to deal some of their picks for other pieces.
With the Blackhawks, the only players on the team from 06 and beyond are Kane and Toews. Not exactly chopped meat. But the core of the roster is from the 2001 – 2005 drafts, I’m not going to list every single successful draftee. But it once again shows the amount of time that your facing between drafting players and seeing their effect on an NHL team unless you get a Crosby or Ovechkin.
If your an Islanders fan and your worried about the rebuild, the youngsters are just about on the verge of getting there. There’s obvious talent on the team in Tavares, Okposo, Bailey, Moulson, Streit and Wisniewski. If the Islanders can keep them together while adding the kids from the 06-07-08 draft, the team will turn it around. But you can’t say that this rebuild is a fail already two years in, before the long term prospects start hitting the team.
Milbury destroyed the Islanders. If you look at the team and the prospects he was given, what he did to the team is horrible. The Islanders have had to build up from the ground floor prospect wise. One or two successful drafts would make a world of difference with the team today.