Monday, July 7, 2008

My brief final entry

Hi. Let’s wrap this up the way I came in. Me rambling, shooting from the hip, borderline incoherent…

Going out on a limb: every scribe will have the Islanders in the 10-15 range in their ’08-09 Eastern Conference predictions, somewhere among Atlanta, Florida and Toronto. And, of course, the Islanders will be very much alive in the playoff hunt in March.

One of the wild things about UFA week: by Day 3, teams are giving $3.5 million deals to players that weren’t even on the boards in the GM’s office – you know, the one with their “vision” – on Day 1. There’s a reason those boards are dry-erase.

Newsday had an impressive feature Sunday with a reporter on the front lines as Nassau police are on DWI patrol. Yet in the NHL there are still plenty of people who have a major problem with imbedding a reporter in that all-important pregame meeting for a regular season tilt.

*

It’s on the Islanders to continue to bring along Sean Bergenheim. He may only max out somewhere between a third and second liner, but I’m confident he can be a very effective player on a very good team. Let it be the Islanders.

Former Islanders who the mere mention of their names brings a smile: Bob Bassen and Steve Konroyd – the first two players to make me feel comfortable around the team, Trots, Kelly Hrudey, Jeff Hackett, Dennis Vaske, everyone on the ’92-93 team, Kaspar, Flats. That gutless puke Travis Green – a real good kid who became a real good man, smiling Mariusz Czerkawski – such a sweet man, he tried to hook me up in a Montreal bar. The “Sarge” Sergei Nemchinov, Roberto Luongo, Zdeno Chara – who once when visiting the office saw the staff doing a season ticketholder mailing and pulled up a chair and stuffed envelopes, Kenny Jonsson, Scatch, Mark Parrish and Jason Blake – the most impressively self-made player I ever saw. Wacky/driven as all hell but I love that guy.

One of the things I’ve missed is waking up Sunday morning, logging on to the New York Post and saying my prayer of hope that the Islanders are not roasted in Slap Shots by Larry Brooks. Funny thing about Larry: people take shots at him, but everybody reads him. Slap Shots is one of the few must-reads we have in the game. Brooks covered the dynastic Islanders, was an executive with the Devils and is the biggest hockey voice in New York, but has yet to be acknowledged by the Writers Association for the Ferguson Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame. I would hope this doesn't mean the honor is not about skill, impact and passion for the game but rather about something petty.

Has Snow tried to talk his friend Kenny Jonsson into coming back to Long Island? Garth was a goalie and knows how great KJ is, so of course he has...a few times. Kenny is most likely finishing his career in Sweden.

To my friends in the NY mainstream media resisting the horrible notion of ever joining this century and blogging, I urge you to re-consider. Look at some of the great work out there by Rich Hammond on the Kings, Mike Russo on the Wild, Sam Weinman's often loopy stuff on the Rangers and George Richards on the Panthers. Now, I assume these gents don’t put in all this work for free, but it would be nice to see more coverage circa the year 2008 from the local writers. Don’t worry: just because you blog doesn’t mean you will lose your Mainstream Media association card!

Yes, the Islanders need to win, and win big, to bring the fans back in huge numbers 41 regular season games a year. It would help tremendously, however, if the franchise is able to solve the dilemma of ho-hum corporate support on Long Island. Senior VP Chris Dey appears to be on a mission to boost local business support with the Islanders Business Club and other initiatives. This season should be a good test to see if the corporate market stands up before the Lighthouse comes to town.

As I said on XM, the reason why the Rangers still might work next season is because of their base of youngsters – Dubinsky, Dawes, Callahan, Prucha (I’ll take him if Tom doesn’t want to play him), Girardi, Staal. Like the Islanders’ kids, none of them (except perhaps Staal) are sure-fire A-listers. But they bring something every night. Better than that, they are a great watch. No reason why the Islanders can’t match that soon.

The expectations for Kyle Okposo make me queasy for such a great kid like KO. Without a doubt, he’s a player who could play a big part on a championship team. But some of the excitement seems a little over-juiced. Keep the bar at a fair level for the kid – maybe 25-35-60 in two or three years. Kyle had 9 goals in 35 games with Bridgeport, 2 goals in 9 games with the Islanders. Enjoy the kid. He’s going to be fun to watch develop.

*

So there is no misunderstanding, my puzzlement over the installation of a defensive system only after the Islanders were eliminated from playoff contention is this: with the team shorthanded throughout the second half, why didn’t they start thinking about minimizing scoring chances-against when the Islanders were still in the playoff race?

There was no surprise in Uniondale when the Penguins signed Ruslan Fedotenko. Pitt expressed interest in Tank before they went in another direction right before the deadline.

In the Comments section, I got a question about who the real Rick DiPietro is. On the ice, I’ll leave it to an NHL goalie coach who says Rick is easily one of the three most talented goaltenders in the game and he will have his moment when the D in front of him is top-10 NHL. Okay, I’ll make one suggestion on the ice. When the Islanders are on the PK, allow Rick to get in the opponent’s heads by playing the puck. When they’re not, tell him to just stop it. Off the ice, sure we averaged one moment a season when we cursed each other’s name. But when it was all over for me in May, Rick sent me a text after he got out of surgery that was as classy as any of the notes I received. SOB still has me rooting for him.

To answer the question from the Comments on the Ted post: no, I’m not aware of Garth Snow getting a contract extension. If he did, I'd like to think he'd buy me more than just Chipotle when we worked together.

As for the Q about what it was like to walk past Dale Hunter in the Coliseum hallway after he mugged Pierre Turgeon, this is what went through my mind: “I’d like to sucker-punch him, but Hatcher would probably kill me.” And “Man, that jackass looks just like Robin Williams.”

I was flooded with emails yesterday asking why I brought up the lack of resolution on the Ted Nolan issue. That’s easy. The Islanders have not won a playoff series since the spring I got married. That was in nineteen hundred ninety-three. I saw something that bothered me and could lead to those 15 years becoming 20 if it’s not rectified one way or the other.

It wasn’t like I unloaded insider secrets, went all Scott McClellan on my old team. There wasn’t a thing I wrote that wasn’t already public info, that wasn’t already covered by Greg Logan and that Greg will continue to be all over. It’s remarkable to me that some 24/7 fans thought I outed stuff everyone didn’t already know. It really does seem like the Islanders had an intriguing draft, signed Streit and Weight and – just like that – for some, all was forgotten. I don’t think so.

The private stuff I have kept to myself. To those of you who have read this blog going back to its inception when I was a team official: did you really expect me to go out just thanking a bunch of people? Maybe I’m stopping the blog a few days too late.


*

Well, actually I would like to thank some people. I’ve spent the last four glorious weeks in Major League Baseball as a PR consultant around the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, with a few more weeks to go. Call it Dream Job 2. A big thank you to my teammates Dan Queen, Sarah Leer, Sylvia Alvarez, fellow insultant Josh Rosenfeld (legendary former PR man of the Magic-Worthy-Kareem Lakers), Matt Monagan and our skipper, Matt Bourne. It has been a riot, a thrill and a privilege to be a part of it, and I cannot thank them enough.

Thank you to all the Point Blank readers. My “limited engagement” ends today. I’m not going on that family trip, but the next few weeks will have me working 18 hours a day on the many incredible All-Star events (unfortunately, I do not have a block of Bon Jovi tickets). Especially for all the class they have shown me, I owe MLB my best.

So many of you have been kind enough to ask me to keep this blog alive. A few suggested I keep it, even if it means just dropping a line once or twice a month. Thank you for the recommendation. I just might do that.

Either way, the Comments area remains open. I’ll be reading and will try to address whatever and whenever I can.

See you around.

23 comments:

FourCupsin4yearsnot60 said...

Don't go Chris!!! Your Code Ted was your best blog yet. It would be a shame to lose your voice (type written words?) in the deep dark abyss that is being an Islander fan now days. It helps keep us all sane.

I wish you the best of luck. You did a great job with the Islanders and after.

HatTrick said...

Chris-
This feels like my second break with the Islanders past. I gave up my season tickets as of this coming season, and that was tough to deal with - no more runing from my office (on LI, of course) to get the end of the pre-game warm-ups. No more cringing when i hear the "You s**k" chant go up. No more $7 Coronas half on the other side of the Coli (I realy kept meaning to get tickets closer to that stand...) No more of the wonderful experience it felt like to be together with 16,000 (some nights) cheering on my team.
You kept those feelings alive from the time i made my decision until now.
Thanks for opening up your heart and mind and sharing with us a glimpse of the game we all love, and the team that keeps us coming back. Good Luck. Long Islanders from Inwood to Montauk will miss you.

Chris said...

Thanks, Chris.
And please stay in touch with your fellow fans, we really do value your opinions and insight. I just wish it didnt have to end like this.

:(
Sincerely,
TheMetalChick

Justin said...

A classy post to close it out. I have met you a few times Mr. Botta and you spoke hockey with me for a few minutes in the bowels of the Coliseum....You never looked at your watch and you never looked away. I will always remember that. I thank you for your blog and your work for the Isles.

Good Luck and don't forget to write!!

Mark said...

Chris,

Thanks for all your great and insightful work not only with this blog but with the entire organization throughout the years. Your dedication and hope allows me to continue believing that the team I fell in love with as a kid in '93 can actually turn this thing around. Best of luck with the new gig.

Josh B said...

Thanks for all the words, Botts. I'm sadder now then when you announced you were leaving the NYI. Even if you're not working in, or writing about hockey, if you're writing, I'll still be reading.

Best of luck to you, man.

Travelchic59 said...

Chris, I am so happy to hear you wound up close to the second love of your life - working close to your NY Yankees (I know it's actually MLB). This Mets fan forgives you. LOL! Best of luck with the new gig. They are VERY lucky to have you on board. I am so pleased to hear you MIGHT drop a line every now and then on this blog. I will be checking for it.

All the best for continued success.

Mary

jk said...

Chris, I hope this was your idea....

Best of luck.


**The American Mustache Institute officially backs Giambi as their candidate**

The New York Yankees are urging fans to “Support the ‘Stache” and vote for first baseman Jason Giambi on Major League Baseball’s Final All-Star Ballot.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

Thanks for all the recent insight and the years of work/love/suffering with the Isles. Whenever you find the time, I hope you'll continue to share some of your insight with those of us starved for info on the team we're cursed to care so much about...

-Milburied Alive

Ryan said...

Chris,
Thank you for all of the positive work you did in your time with the Islanders. I truly enjoy reading your blog and hope you continue to write. I looked forward to it everyday. Best of luck to you in anything you choose for the future. Can't wait to see you at the old barn!!!

nyibc1 said...

Chris - thanks for everything!

You will be missed... MLB got a great guy!

Hope to see you 'hanging' around the arena!

jsmilla said...

Hey, nice to see that someone's keeping Bill Torrey's classic job title from '93("insultant") alive.

Best of luck in the future, and remember, when you write the book, you've got an automatic sale here. : )

john said...

From a 4 seat season ticket holder in section 102. You were always a gentlemen the rare times we spoke. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Toomas said:

Chris I'm going to miss the last 2 weeks of this blog. I loved the "parting shots"...BUT if you were still working for the Isles & someone asked you "How is Snow & Nolan's relationship" your response would be "in the 20 years I've been with the Isles I have never seen a Coach & Gm work so well together"...(you actually did say this about milbury & Goring.) This isn't a negative post btw, I think you're a great person and an asset to the sport. However, on IM the debate rages on whether you are being truthful or just looking to stir the pot. Perhaps a little bit of both? IMHO, I think it is a little bit of both...plus maybe you just couldn't pass up the opportunity to start wee bit of trouble, which I respect.

Chris I've been reading you for close to a decade now, Isles site updates, this blog...You tend to get awfully gun-ho about youth, Weihandl, Papineau etc., the Isles ALWAYS have the next star, you've been wrong before. I say this because from what you posted the last fewe days, I'm taking it you think Tambellini should be on the 1st line/1st PP unit. I'm just trying to keep ya honest, you've said/implied similar things about every teen early 20-something player the Isles have ever had.

Nolan CAN coach. THAT there is no doubt. There is some question as whether Snow can be an effective GM. I like to play the odds. I side w/Nolan if there is a feud. Wang might like Snow better, but that doesn't mean Nolan wrong.

Paul said...

Mr. Botta,
It only gets bettr from here! And another loss to the Islander Francise. PLEASE KEEP THE BLOG GOING!Thanks for all yur hard work!

Isle Insider

nick altomare said...

Hey Chris,

It's been great reading and I really appreciate the info on the team I truly and perhaps stupidly will stand by until the day they move from Long Island.

I hope the Isles will someday get over all the BS, get the lighthouse project built and return to the days of glory, hell, even the years leading up to dynasty years, when much of the NHL feared the Nassau County upstarts.

If time permits, it would be great to see more posts in the future. Best of luck to you.

Oh, and by the way, one last comment from this 44 year old former NYC boy and 36 year Islander Fan...

RANGERS SUCK!!!!!

nightfly said...

Loved your "Fishsticks" book, loved the blog - you won't have a bowtie hung from the Coliseum rafters, but you've been a great part of the team. I'm gonna miss you and this blog.

dmk2120 said...

Do us a favor and alert the media when you start your next writing adventure. You're too enjoyable to miss out on.

CB said...

In fairness to Daily News scribe Peter Botte, who wrote the book with Alan Hahn and is not related to me even a little bit, I did not write "Fishsticks." I did get to a preview the first chapter and then almost lost the manuscript in the movie theatre on Main Street in Lake Placid. Thankfully, I guess, the theatre manager found the manuscript.

Thanks to everyone for the really nice words. Even to my man Toomas, who I'm sure could find my alleged Papineau poetry on the web if I challenged him. That could have been the season I discovered vodka.

Anonymous said...

From 19 Isle in NJ 22 ~

Great final word there Chris .... good luck ... I'm sure your talents will be demanded in all sports.

Perhaps I'll run into you working some sporting event. I'm often around the hum of TV satellite uplink truck generators.

I think what you said about Okposo was spot on ... I think he's in the mid twenty goal level talent .. with some more upside ... tempered expectations will keep the pressure off a great young talent like him.

Take care Chris.

19 Isle in NJ 22

Anonymous said...

Chris,
I've been a fan since the inception, when I watched the games on WWOR-TV 9 with the rabbit ears/antenna pointed in the right direction, figured out after much trial & error, depending on the weather. I graduated from HS in that GREAT winter/spring of hockey: 1980.....and have been serving in the USAF ever since.

You have been great in this blog---giving real-life insight and passion to a team/franchise/players/community. Best of luck to you in your new career and life....may God continue to Bless you immensely.

Troy in Chantilly VA

Aaron Ong said...

Chris,

Your contribution to Islander fans can not be emphasized enough. Your writings have been uniquely insightful, interesting and thoughtful. I'm glad I shared this journey with you. You helped make being an Islanders fan and ticket holder a better experience because of your involvement with the Team. I wish you best of luck in your new endeavors.

Like many others, I entreat you to keeping this blog alive. A contribution even once a month during the season will be very much welcome.

Godspeed,
Aaron

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Good luck in your future endevours! Sorry you're not going to keep up your blog.
2) Its understandable that you might be unable to post as often, but the folks who read your entries(us at FAUXRUMORS included)would hope you'd reconsider ending the blog and instead post when you have the time/opportunity
3) Few of us expected you to give us any Isles state secrets, but to have the perspective of someone who's been on the inside was a nice refreshing change.
Again, good luck Chris!