In a show of solidarity from New York area members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, the chapters that cover the Islanders, Rangers, and New Jersey Devils will not participate in the voting process for this year’s NHL Awards in protest of the revocation of Chris Botta’s credentials. Botta was infamously exiled from the Islanders’ pressbox back in November without sufficient reason, although, there were rumblings that the team felt that his coverage was unfair and overly critical of general manager Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang.
The PHWA issued a statement reaffirming their stance on the Botta situation, and outlined the reasoning behind the New York chapters’ decision to pull their participation in award voting.
Excerpt via Dave “The Hammer” Shoalts, The Globe and Mail:
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.
According to ESPN.com, about 90% of eligible voters are still slated to participate in voting for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke and Lady Byng trophies. The PHWA has reportedly asked to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the Stanley Cup Final to discuss the the Botta situation further.