So, as surprising as the thought might be, there is a hockey team playing its games in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, best known to you as the venue that hosted that awful concert you once had to drag your niece to. That hockey team is the 30-37-12 New York Islanders, which even has a couple spry, speedy players in John Tavares and Michael Grabner.
But of course you don't know much about the Islanders because hockey is hockey and the Islanders are terrible and the Islanders' radio broadcasts, honest to God, originate from the Hofstra University student station.
So in November when the Islanders revoked the media credentials of Chris Botta, whose Islanders Point Blank is one of the few outfits reporting on that forsaken squad, it caused a fairly large stir. And it meant that Newsday would be the only outlet with a beat writer. Of course, Newsday.com is behind a paywall (except if you have Cablevision or subscribe to the print edition), and very few folks have paid for online Newsday access.
All of this is to say that the Islanders did something quite silly when taking away Botta's credential. And now the members of the Devils, Rangers and Islanders chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association will boycott voting on the year-end NHL awards. This is a serious step, even if the only obvious result is an increased weakness in Marc Staal's Norris Trophy candidacy.
Here's what the writers wrote:
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.
There's a burgeoning debate about teams reporting on themselves, and perhaps with good reason. But the circumstances here are straightforward, offensively so. The NHL needs the wretched sports media to ensure its continued health, and the Islanders—who draw the least in the NHL by total and by percentage—doubly do. Plus, it's just wrong to lock out a writer for negative coverage that hasn't veered into TJ Simers territory. Griping about a losing streak is nothing.
So rock on, hockey writers, for everyone's own good.
Not voting this year (Updated) [Ranger Rants, NorthJersey.com]