David Boclair, sports editor of The City Papery in Nashville, sent an e-mail to every Professional Hockey Writers Association member explaining why he joined with his counterparts in New York and New Jersey who decided days earlier to forgo voting as a protest for the treatment of writer/blogger Chrs Botta, who had his credential yanked by the New York Islanders in November. Here’s a Boclair explanation why:
As a professional organization, our first responsibility is to our membership, not in trying to placate league or team officials. I proudly stand behind Mr. Botta, and the metropolitan New York chapters of the PHWA.
If the league and this particular franchise have no respect for our position on this matter, which strikes at the very heart of the news gathering process, then any endorsement of whom we believe is the best goalie or the most sportsmanlike player is absolutely meaningless.
Twenty PHWA chapters took part in a conference call on Sunday and a resolution was passed, 17-0 with one abstention, to proceed with voting. As part of the resolution, the PHWA would push for a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the Stanley Cup Final to help clear up the long-running issued with the Islanders.
The PHWA selects the Hart, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng and Selke awards.
Boclair had an idea if the Isles don’t relent and let Botta back in the press box:
Finally, I am outraged at the arrogance displayed by the New York Islanders in their initial decision and recent response to our concerns and I am open to any sort of sanctions we could levy against them, including a league-wide media blackout.
Botta worked for the Islanders for two decades and left as the team’s vice president of media relations. Along with running his own blog (Islanders Point Blank), we worked together at the since-shuttered AOL FanHouse. He was the site's lead hockey writer when the Islanders ban began. Here’s what he wrote on this topic over the weekend:
So that there is 100% certainty, understand this: I was not, in any way, behind the movement by the local chapters of the PHWA to protest the Islanders’ decision to ban me by not participating in the balloting for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng and Selke awards. I also did not participate in any of the voting by the three chapters. I was aware of the New York chapter’s decision because they first voted on it three months ago before confirming its vote this week. I learned of the actions of the Long Island and New Jersey chapters around the same time most of you did.
-- A.J. Perez