Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Media Bashing

In these days leading up to the presidential election, you'll often hear claims from the GOP of bias in the "liberal" media. Whether those claims are founded or not, they have nothing to complain about compared to Islanders fans. We are the sportswriters' red-headed stepchildren. We've grown accustomed to getting no respect, no respect at all. Any Islanders fan who peruses any site's power rankings, for example, will instinctively scroll directly to the bottom of the page. We know where we'll be.

Still, it was a bit of a punch in the gut reading Johnette Howard's recent column in Newsday, The Islanders can't seem to do anything right. It's an article that exists for the sole purpose of trashing the Islanders, and more directly it's fans. There's no broader context to it, just an apparent attempt to stir the pot with some good old fashioned trash talkin'. Maybe new Newsday Czar Dolan offered a bounty to the first "journalist" to make an Islanders fan cry.

Aside from it being a seemingly random attack, my main problem with the column is that it is just plain lazy writing. It's essentially predicated on the notion that the Islanders lack any redeeming qualities. Ms. Howard is not alone in promoting this ideal. It's become the consensus in the hockey community where it's almost a writer's obligation to take pot shots at the Isles. But here's the real deal folks, in as plain English as I can muster:

The Islanders aren't as bad as everyone thinks.

Yes, I know how that sounds. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for my team. But it's the truth. There's plenty of negatives to write about this team, but these sweeping characterizations of the Islanders as the dregs of hockey society are the byproduct of a flawed mob mentality.

The media (to generalize) seem to be unable to separate the team from the organization. In my opinion, it's the often dysfunctional machinations of the organization that lead many writers to dismiss the on-ice product. Ownership debacles, Sumo goalies, backup goalie to GM transformations...etc. Writers, those topics are fair game. Feel free to tear us apart all you'd like. But understand that once the puck drops, those issues are irrelevant. Which brings us back to Ms. Howard's article...

Aside from the objectionable snarky tone, the handful of specifics she addressed were oversimplified or just plain misleading. I'll address a few of them:

Remember the playoffs? Actually, yes, I do. Considering we are just one season removed from the playoffs, it shouldn't be that hard. And by the way, we've been there 4 of the past 6 seasons. How exactly does that make us the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL?

Ryan Smyth...couldn't get out fast enough. Really? Where did you hear that one? Publicly, Smyth and his handlers have always said it was a tough decision and that the Islanders were in the running until the very end. Maybe this is just PR spin, but what do you know to the contrary? Per Garth Snow, "Don (Meehan, Ryan's agent) said we were right in it for Ryan's services until the very end and it was one of the hardest decisions he'd ever been a part of."

Islanders fans streamed out of the draft-day party. Sure, that's true. But also selective. The draft party covered only one pick, and I'd estimate that the majority of those fans that left unhappy from the party were at least largely soothed as the rest of the draft unfolded. You ignore the fact that Grant McCagg of McKeen's Hockey Draft Guide gave the Islanders a grade of B+ and called it one of the top 5 drafts. Or that the Isles grabbed 5 of the top 30 ranked prospects from International Scouting Services.

Islanders fans have thick skins. We wouldn't have survived this long without the ability to brush off bad press. But please, in the future focus on facts. We can take it. And maybe, just maybe, when you start to look at the facts you'll see the team in a more positive light.


1 comment:

islesblogger said...


I didn't want to waste my breath about this myself (although I did have a healthy discussion with Jim Baumbach last night - as we tend to do).

The things you point out are the exact things I try to point out everywhere this points up.

Good show!