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From the Professional Hockey Writers Association on NHL Awards Voting Controversy

From the PHWA:

As the NHL’s 2010-11 regular season winds down, and with voting on the league’s awards imminent, the Professional Hockey Writers Association remains adamantly opposed to – and distressed by – the early season decision of the New York Islanders to revoke the media credential of a PHWA member.

This is even more objectionable than the original decision itself: In the months since, league officials have refused to intervene and overrule the Islanders’ decision, which would serve to re-emphasize the NHL’s commitment to facilitate objective and authoritative coverage from PHWA members.

The media marketplace is changing daily, and newspapers and other outlets for written journalism are among those adapting. To its credit, the NHL and its teams have aggressively taken on the challenge of creating and enhancing their “own” coverage on several platforms, going beyond the more traditional “in-house” broadcasts to now include team web sites and other outlets.

Yet the league’s savvy fan base understands the need for, and desires, independent and objective coverage that doesn’t pass through league and team filters.

Our concern is that this decision, if allowed to stand and become precedent, signals an end to the league’s agreement that independent and objective coverage not only benefits its fan base, but the NHL itself.

The PHWA’s position is absolute. The splitting of hairs about the circumstances of the Islanders’ decision is an irrelevant waste of time. We ask that the NHL disavow the Islanders’ capricious decision in this specific instance, but even more important, reaffirm that – barring egregious actions that would cause the PHWA to expel a member, anyway -- PHWA members will be granted access to cover its teams.

Meanwhile, three of our chapters – those made up of writers who cover the Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils – have decided not to participate in the PHWA voting for the NHL’s 2010-11 regular-season awards. That voting selects the winners of most of the league’s major trophies and its first- and second-team all-stars.

The PHWA takes seriously its role as an authoritative, objective and independent voting body for these awards, and is honored to participate in the process. It also respects and will support the decisions of individual members not to return their ballots, which the league already has distributed to PHWA members. However, the PHWA also believes that because the voting process has begun, both the writers’ organization and the league have entered into a mutual and honorable pact to see through the voting process for the 2010-11 awards.

The PHWA is confident that with potentially nearly 90 percent of its 177 members continuing to participate, the pool of voters -- which has grown significantly in recent years – is more than sufficient to maintain the integrity of the voting.

In the upcoming offseason, the PHWA hopes to again meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other league officials to seek clarification of the credentialing issue and to discuss the future of the PHWA’s role as an independent and objective voting bloc in continuing to bolster the credibility of the league’s awards.


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So basically this means the NY Islander's got a guy removed from writing his honest opinion about the team he covers? Or am I wrong?

It means that if the Isles potentially have someone up for an award (Say Grabner for ROY)they have 3 chapters of the PHWA that will not vote on that, or any other award. You would think that would lose Grabner some votes, and ultimately hurt the team.

Yes. As short as possible: The teams former VP of media relations / PR left the team and turned blogger using his connections with the team and the NHL in general. He spent 1 year financed by the team, then gained independent financing on the strength of the content and the number of hits. Throughout he has praised the organization when downtrodden but hasn't refrained from criticizing where appropriate. The Islanders removed his press credentials without an officially giving a specific reason. He continues to write about the Islanders but without direct access to the current team.

What did this reporter do to get banned?

Botta refuses to discuss what got him banned. Until he's honest about that and specifically says why the team banned him, he is not worthy of support by fans and other writers. It is a disgrace that the PHWA is inserting itself into this dispute without calling upon Botta to disclose what happened.

Thanks guys. If Grabner were to lose it won't be because his local writers didn't vote for him it would be because players like Skinner and Coutore played much better. Also I would think with the voting that the writers can't be biased with their vote because they are familiar a certain player and they most likely will research the other candidates.

at least the media covers the islanders, here we have one paper that covers the team (the herald), The Sun-Sentinel did not send anyone on the last road trip, and on tv no coverage at all.

soon the only coverage will be by panther employees so we won't have anyone to hold this organization accountable.

Yormark should know better as he worked for the yankees who stated that no coverage is worse than negative coverage.

Until this team is held accountable they will continue to treat the hockey team as 41 dates at the arena and nothing more


According to aBob Mckenzies article, Botta was a 20-year employee of the Islanders, 15 of them in public relations and the last 10 as vice president of communications. He left the organization in May of 2008 and started an on-line blog, NYI Point Blank , that was originally funded by the team. But the Isles withdrew financial support of it in 2009, at which time Botta began working for AOL FanHouse, which then picked up sponsorship of Point Blank.

Bottom line: he's a professional journalist. This is what he does for a living. Two, he's a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association New York City chapter.

It really could be a slippery slope and the longer this situation goes unresolved, the more likely it is some other hockey executive will take note and play copycat.

With a once proud and historic frachise in ruins, failing to find a new arena to replace the musoleum, one would think Snow would beg people for coverage. On a larger scale, this is an issue the NHL should have prevented long ago simply on the lst amendment. He is not a blogger sitting in his basement in Mass. pretending to be a fan of a team hundreds of miles away. He is a professional, and as said above, you dont know whose rights will be taken away next.

Islander fans should be up in arms; moreover all of us fans should, or one day there will simply be corporate press releases and no accountablility.

Best thing about this story is that George didnt write it.

Post of the Week...

The way newspapers are going you would think all writers would boycott the voting in support of Botta. So if the Herald decided to cut spending by eliminating Panthers coverage and George lost his job and decided to start his own blog because he had a following, Panthers could cut his credentials because it is a blog not an offical news organization. Hypothetical not going to happen but if a writer wanted to go on his own he shouldn't have his credentials pulled without a valid reason.

Bingo Puckbubba, well said.

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