Seen & Heard – Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013

by Rob G

When I was thinking about how this (mostly) daily column would pan out, I knew there’d be the odd day when there was little or nothing to share, other days when there could be much grist for the mill. I also figured there might be days where I might share with you simply a favourite interview of the day. That day has arrived.

Today on Tim & Sid, the lads interviewed Chris Botta in the 3:20 – 3:40 pm block. Botta must have an extra large business card, as he hangs his hat in a number of spots – he is a hockey/soccer writer at Sports Business Journal, sports writer at the New York Times, founder of the Islanders Point Blank blog, and a hockey insider for SportsNet New York (SNY). Before this, he was a 20 year PR executive with the New York Islanders.

Botta was interviewed regarding the Islanders waiving of goalie Rick DiPietro last week. DiPietro cleared waivers and has been sent down to their farm team in Bridgeport. DiPietro was quoted as saying he thought about killing himself at one point. He said the last 3 years of injuries, losing, and fan hatred drove those thoughts. He later recanted the earlier report, stating his comments were 100 percent facetious. Whichever it was, Botta was a good choice for Tim & Sid to chat with, not only regarding this story specifically, but also to discuss the Islanders in general, and giving the listener a window into Islanders owner, Charles Wang.

When he was asked whether Wang is nuts, Botta replied, “He’s not nuts, but he can be a little wacky”. Wang is famous for suggesting the Islanders consider putting a sumo wrestler in net. Wang also signed DiPietro to the unheard of at the time 15 year, $67.5 million dollar contract extension back in 2005. That contract has doubly hung as an albatross around the neck of not only the team, but also DiPietro.

Botta spoke positively about Wang in regards to the loyalty he shows his leadership team. I was surprised to learn that Mike Milbury conceivably would have been still in place as GM if he hadn’t stepped aside. Further proof of his loyalty, is he believes Garth Snow will not be going anywhere soon, and if he makes it to the time when they move to Brooklyn in just over 2 years, he will be in his 10th year as GM. They haven’t had a sniff of the playoffs in 8 years.

The Islanders have some nice pieces in place, led by forward John Tavares. This team was once one of the great franchises in the NHL, but have been the opposite for years. Whether you’re a fan or not, I hope the franchise can turn the corner and return to respectability.

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