Writers protest by withholding votes

Hockey writers from three New York-area chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association will not vote on the NHL's postseason awards in response to a season-long dispute over the loss of a credential from blogger (and former New York Islanders employee) Chris Botta.

The Islanders revoked Botta's credential in November over coverage critical of the team. At the time, he was writing for AOL Fanhouse and ran his own blog, Islanders Point Blank. The blog initially was a team-funded enterprise, but is now independent. Botta was an Islanders employee for 20 years, including more than a decade as the team's vice president of communications.

The PHWA chapters covering the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils voted over the weekend to boycott the voting for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke and Lady Byng trophies in protest.

"The PHWA's position is absolute," the writers' association said in a statement. "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."

Botta is currently writing for his blog and for the New York Times' Slap Shot blog.

The PHWA has requested a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the Stanley Cup Final to discuss the issue.

Writers from the rest of the organization's chapters -- 90 percent of 177 members -- still voting "is more than sufficient to maintain the integrity of the voting" the PWHA said in a statement.