Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Damage Done

Yesterday morning I found something I never thought I would see in an Islanders Point Blank blog: an apology. It seems that the Islanders ex-PR Director, and card-carrying member of the PHWA, made a mistake regarding something he had been repeating during his recent round of interviews. We all make mistakes. We’re all human. But when statements are made by people who seem to be “in the know” or who are looked at as having “inside information,” they are not looked at as opinion but as fact. Many times others, writers and readers, will pick up that shred of information as if it were gospel and use it themselves.

Such was the case of the notion that the Islanders were doing something underhanded to circumvent the cap rules by not putting Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo on Long Term Injury Reserve. Not only was it picked up by other media outlets, especially many in Canada, but it became a battle cry for despondent fans against the organization.

Why? Why? Why? They must be doing SOMETHING illegal, underhanded, and despicable! Right? The media attention became worse as there were highly prominent writers that called for the League itself to intervene and snatch the Islanders organization away from its owner to save it.

Wow. Imagine the League coming in and taking the Islanders over from an owner that is consistently losing $20 million a year on the franchise. The same owner who is at almost every game, who attends practices, who speaks to the players and threw money into making them comfortable in their work place.

Well, too bad that tidbit of information about LTI was in error. Even more entertaining to me -- I knew it was incorrect days ago. On December 10th, David Shoalts from the Globe & Mail used it in his 500 word article about “the sinking Islanders.” On December 11th I wrote to him to let him know he was incorrect. Needless to say, I am not making friends in the MSM (or the bloggosphere for that matter).

Perhaps I should have published something at the time, but then it may have just looked like sour grapes from a blogger on the bottom of the food chain. (Truth is, I just didn’t have time.) So instead, Bill Daly explained the letters of the CBA on an SNY web episode of Islanders PB TV where he dismissed the notion the Islanders were doing anything wrong.

In his blog follow-up to the webisode, this explanation from Mr. Daly appeared on IPB. “LTI is a place to provide relief for salary cap-crunched teams like the Flyers (see: Mike Rathje).” As the Islanders do not need “relief” from their cap situation, there is no need for them to apply. So, will the same media members who used that piece of (mis)information be back to pick up the apology that appeared in Saturday’s blog? I doubt it.

The damage is done. Perception is everything and the perception is that the Islanders were screwing with the fans and the players. It was the cherry on the “let me tell you how bad the Islanders are” sundae that so many like to serve up.

Another perception born of perpetual publicity: the Islanders fired a well-liked on-air personality for petty reasons. In what seems like an effort to soften that stance, PB TV did an interview with now NATIONAL broadcaster Billy Jaffe. Ah… yes… it’s all good. All good. As indicated during the interview, the new opportunities that Jaffe is now exploring would not have been offered to him had he remained on Dolanvision MSGPlusPlusPlus.

And what a great opportunity for Butch Goring as well. (Who has improved exponentially since taking the position in October.) When I said that it was an opportunity for an ex-Islander great, I was publicly scoffed at. But hey, time heals all wounds, right?

Certainly the Islanders have numerous problems and are at the bottom of the standings. They have lost 171 man games due to injury; a roster filled with kids; sagging attendance and budget cuts. They have the lowest payroll in the league, but that probably won’t be the case come next season.

I lifted this from LighthouseHockey.com, the guy I go to for all my statistical information that I don’t have time to gather:
A quick preview of that matrix: The Islanders have just 10 bodies on the NHL roster (active or IR) who are signed for next season (4F, 5D, 1G), totaling roughly $23.4 million in cap hit (including the Yashin and Witt buyouts). However, they have eight RFAs (including Josh Bailey, currently in the AHL) that will boost both figures. And they have other existing contracts like Nino Niederreiter, Rhett Rakhshani, and Calvin de Haan, who might make the roster in 2011-12.

They do not deny they have plenty of cap space. (Perhaps by design.) Hopefully they will use it wisely next season since this one seems to be a ditch they can‘t dig themselves out of.

So whether or not the media and the fans pick up on the technical error and apology, the damage is done. They continue to include in their coverage the failing attendance, low payroll and “penny-pinching” practices. Is it any wonder why no one is going to the games?

Well, perception is everything and the damage is done.

Other Notes: Matt Martin was suspended for two games for his hit on Saturday night. While I do believe the league is trying to send a strong statement about head shots, there are others that seems to slip through the cracks. Martin did not. He will forfeit almost $7,000 in pay for the infraction and be put on that NHL bad boy list. Shame since he is such a good kid.

Rick DiPietro did not practice again today and while Jack Capuano said that Rick’s knee is “better” but “there is no sense in pushing it.” My husband is going to be looking to cash in on that bet we had in September where he said Rick would be out of the line-up by Christmas. Dear Rick, get back on the ice or you can pay for my divorce attorney.

Mark Eaton was practicing today and Kyle Okposo was skating with the skills coach. No word on Mike Mottau who was said to have been cleared for activity a few days ago and although suspended for two games by the league, Matt Martin was skating on a line with Gillies and Konopka. Also no word on Captain Doug Weight.

Andy Strickland said 30-goal-scorer Matt Moulson will walk if he doesn't get his price from the Islanders to which I say two things: 1) That's why they have cap room and 2) BITE YOUR TONGUE!

Then there are the articles today regarding Brooklyn-born billionaire Nelson Peltz’ desire to buy the NY Islanders. No word on whether or not Charles Wang is actively looking to SELL the Islanders. But with the type of press the Islanders get, I really wouldn’t blame him.

Okay, rant over. Game day tomorrow against the Bolts. Another point or two would do the struggling Islanders some good.


Dominik said...

Amen! Glad you pointed it out to Shoalts (I hadn't seen his piece, but I saw this misconception far and wide). I'd noted it a few times, mostly in comments at my site -- but it absolutely boggles my mind that people who are paid to cover this sport did not understand how LTIR works. It's not just with the Isles -- I read something inaccurate in MSM about Calgary's cap situation the other day -- but of course they're the only ones about whom it is used as an indictment.

I get that the CBA is a pain to sift through (:cough: it's part of the MSM job), but before people lob accusations based on it...should probably either get facts straight or acknowledge their understanding is foggy when lobbing said accusation.

/own rant over ;)

Anonymous said...

we can only pray wang sells to peltz....wang is a horrible hockey owner....

New York Islander Fan Central said...

That was very well done.

Botta only wrote what he did to again hammer home point on teams spending and his agenda/vendetta with Snow.

Billy Jaffe really said Msg gave the Islanders the exact same coverage as Cablevision's hockey team with a straight face?

He must be hoping Micheletti's contract is up so because that's an outright lie.

I have no doubt the Islanders were told by Msg take the Marv Albert hit for Jaffe so they save money on moving Goring's contract or no games on Msg+, no pregame, no features.

Then they made this big phony release on Flatley, he's never there unless it's to cover Ranger games.

The Botta who used to work for the Islanders or at least blog for them would be calling them on this as fast as he called them out on Metro Ice Challenge money.

Now Botta is scared for his career because he losses the Dolan's support, his media friends like Brooks will turn on him.

No wonder he was so muted on Cablevision/Dolan/Newsday the last year, he knew they could make or break his future.