Media disconnect shows in Isles coverage

New York Islander Fan Central | 7/22/2008 06:29:00 AM |
It's interesting reading so many pile on the Islanders in the general hockey media but a common thread for me stood out on the coverage that really makes me dismiss almost all of.

Whether it's positive or negative means little but all they could do is provide background wallpaper that goes back a decade or longer and has no value regarding today's club whatsoever.

This is a disconnect that can be attributed to not only dwindling coverage but dwindling quality in terms of reporting.

In terms of 2008-09 and Snow-Nolan deciding they did not want to work together any longer all of that is completely worthless.

Some of the articles were so poorly written they could not even remember that Neil Smith was fired and incorrectly reported Smith resigned. If they cannot even get the background wallpaper correct obviously they can give us nothing of value in terms of the current club.

A good example of this media disconnect was clearly evident during the season when a lot of West Coast writers finally got to see the club for the first time this year in their markets since 2002. Some have never even seen Rick DiPietro play a game in those time zones. Had Rick DiPietro even seen Calgary since 1999 when he was drafted?

It was one of the first times a few of these writers could update their files for a decade.

But of course this disconnect goes well beyond the West Coast.

What is Wallace Matthews of Newsday going to tell our fans about the New York Islanders writing one article every few years at best? John Rolfe of SI, Adam Proteau of THN, Scott Burnside of Espn could tell us nothing new that they have not been writing for years.

It seems a few of them are trapped in the club's past. You could see it in Scott Burnside's reporting all year. All he could tell us was he did not expect the club to stay in contention just as he did the previous year and played it safe keeping his updates about the past.

This year even confirmed local writers like Larry Brooks who covered Al Arbour night from an Islander perspective or Dave Caldwell at the Times/Peter Botte at the News were simply not around nearly enough to provide us anything new of value.

Peter Botte was nowhere to be found, he did not touch any of this.

Most of these writers told us nothing, some blamed Nolan on reputation, others blamed
Snow because he came in a backup goalie as they threw half-baked theories against the walls hoping it would stick, many blamed Charles Wang but had nothing current as to his role or anything beyond blind speculation. Few blamed the timing and for waiting so long which is where the only legitimate criticism should be here.

Most of these writers could not name ten players on the current roster, they can only tell us the roster back in the late nineties or when the Isles signed Yashin or that Charles Wang fired Neil Smith two summers ago.

You can see it in the work how they avoided the current roster at all cost or wrote the club does not have great prospects or only told us Doug Weight is old while ignoring Bobby Holik of the Devils is older and has been less productive over several years.

It's like me trying to do a blog about the Phoenix Coyotes and go back to when they were in Winnipeg to point out their mistake and go off when Blake Wheeler would not sign with them. I can do a little filler and provide the downside why they have struggled for a long time but in terms of current information I would do a very poor job.

That's what has happened here.

Of course when the games begin and the Islanders are competitive they have nothing to write because there is no comfort for them in current events. We saw that a lot the last few years just as we saw teams copy some of the Isles ideas and the media downplayed the long-term contracts or shared management strategy in Dallas to almost silence from the media.

Bottom line most of the media providing these reports do not know anything new and just rehash alot of old things because it was the only place these people found comfort in their work. Most fans following knew the committee philosophy was a bit overblown and downplayed for most of the last two years, Mr Botta wrote about this a few times during the season.

It's kind of like how we see some writers portray the Black Hawks as a team on the rise or the Blues despite two teams that to date have not won anything and in the Blues case finished behind New York. No knock on these clubs because that could be true but it could also be true for the Isles.

For folks who remember that press conference a few years ago Charles Wang even said if a committee approach did not work out it would be scrapped and they would and back to the way it was. Along the way that is exactly what happened and for all we know it began shortly after the next season began to a degree.

The general manager/assistant gm, pro scouting got the players, a year ago the coach had input, but once the games began the coach had his job and the general manager had his which both Garth Snow and Ted Nolan confirmed in their now infamous WFAN interviews back in March which everyone seemed to ignore in the media.

But hey, Roberto Luongo was traded in 1999, Alexei Yashin was signed to a long-term contract, that must be the reason things are dysfunctional now even though a lot of clubs changed coaches. Los Angeles hired Dean Lombardi as general manager and just fired his first coaching choice in Marc Crawford who was hired the same summer Ted Nolan and Garth Snow were hired. Tampa fired it's cup winning coach for an Espn commentator and left it's acting gm home for the draft and free agency and the same media people did not have much if anything about it.

Are the Isles going to be a good or bad team next year? We'll see.

Is it going to have anything to do with 1999, Roberto Luongo or Charles Wang firing Neil Smith two years ago? No.

Until those writers get beyond that nothing to read of value from them.

Having written that the 2007-08 New York Islanders scored two goals or less fourteen games in a row when healthy and managed to not only stay in contention with a strategy that did not get enough games to overtime or shootouts that produced a team deep in the red in terms of plus/minus (unlike the previous season) but one where they were close to five games over five hundred until the flu and injuries pushed them out of the mix in January only to recover and win six straight without some key players later on.

Even with four hundred man games lost to injury they still managed to beat the Devils, Rangers and play competitive hockey with Pittsburgh. The Isles special teams seemed to beat themselves against Philadelphia a lot more than the Flyers all season.

A lot of what if going into next season for the club but if Comeau, Bergenheim keep improving in terms of numbers, Okposo can replace/improve Satan's nightly impact with Tambellini finally bringing his AHL production to the NHL level and the club getting a good bounce back year from Hunter (in terms of goals) Mike Sillinger and newly acquired Doug Weight with a little better from Comrie and Guerin there is no reason this club will not be in position to compete for a playoff spot regardless of who is behind the bench.

Nielsen, Colliton and Ben Walter will be pushing for spots along with Jesse Joensuu and perhaps Josh Bailey if some moves happen to open a spot.

On defense they are going to be counting on Campoli to provide Mark Streit with some powerplay production but overall this defense comes in only better than they were a year ago with Sutton, Meyer settled into roles after very strong finishes for both of them. Witt and Martinek should pick up where they left off when healthy with Bruno Gervais a possible seventh defender given the depth chart and Jack Hillen behind that with Dustin Kohn coming into his second pro season.

Why would anything think losing Ted Nolan, Josef Vasick, Miroslav Satan or Ruslan Fedotenko cause a free fall? Charles Wang and Garth Snow could leave tomorrow and still this could be a competitive club depending on how things break.

This was a group that cut down it's shots against down last season by a hundred and ninety eight which did not make it into those reports about Todd Bertuzzi, Roberto Luongo or Neil Smith nor did Greg Logan even note in his constant reports DiPietro had to start less games.

Rick DiPietro aside from his grandmother's passing gave the club solid goaltending from beginning to end last season, despite a statistical argument put forward by Newsday he was struggling, ignoring a six game winning streak highlighted by a 1-0 win against Tampa Bay.

We'll see what happens when the season begins, the idea it will have anything to do with Mike Milbury, Todd Bertuzzi, Neil Smith or Alexei Yashin will have more to do with a lot of writers out of touch when it comes to the New York Islanders as opposed to what's happening on the ice in 2008-09 trapped in the past or poor coverage habits that are their problems, not ours.

And of course you will see more of the same in pre-season predictions, what the heck is John Rolfe of SI going to tell us about the 2008-09 Islanders? We get one of those articles every year from Mr Rolfe regardless of record and will until the Isles win another cup. He was quick to quote Richard Pilon's take on ownership but ignored how grossly out of shape Pilon was which is why he could not play until he went to the Rangers and dropped some pounds when it was clear he was playing for his future, he cannot put that on Howard Milstein nor can John Rolfe.

When that happens you can bet the day the Isles do win another cup for folks like Mr Rolfe the theme will be all about the dark days, only place he can go with his reporting now because it's all he wants to know.

They can try and blame Charles Wang for that too but in the end many of them have to take a long look in the mirror and ask why are they not watching games to give us a 2008 view on the current club?

If they do a review of the club and tell us Bergenheim cannot finish, Comeau is not a scorer and Okposo is too young that's fair enough, could well be correct. They want to tell us Campoli cannot stay healthy, the defense has too many players prone to injury that's a fair discussion also.

But don't tell us it's because of moves close to a decade old, that's just lazy journalism.

Our fans deserve better from you.