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The New Breed by B.D. Gallof

September 6, 2007, 10:22 AM ET [ Comments]
Celebrity Guests
The new face of hockey lies under the current face of what you may be used to. The new face is not on Versus,, or even TSN. It is certainly not going to be between the few people who tune into NBC this season where we will watch Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury snipe venomously at one another. Oh, it will be good entertainment to be sure, but not the new face.

The new face of hockey is really about the fan these days...and that fans changed in how they view, interact and opinionate. The new face of hockey is not Sidney Crosby, Roberto Luongo, or Thomas "Thanks Kevin Lowe!" Vanek. You will find the new face of hockey is waiting with great anticipation for NHL 2008 for his or her Xbox360. They are watching on YouTube that mind-numbingly amazing goal by Ovechkin. You know exactly what I am talking about, because you and I are the new faces of hockey. It is you, me, and the very medium in which you read these digitalized musings.

We, fans, have gone from didactic viewing of what is presented to interactive in just a few years. We play our teams in games, actively comment about it in chats, announce our own opinion with authority in blogs, razzed our enemies, celebrated with our heroes, and conduct email campaigns to get catch hockey organizations ears. And those ears HAVE been listening.

The New Landscape

The world between fan and organizations is flattening. Just as the world between blogging and journalism is also flattening. Differences are lessening as the better bloggers substantiate stories, create networks, and now, due the NY Islander’s leap forward with the BlogBox, will be able to ask questions and be carried into the fold.

Just the other day, the New York Islanders, following up on their BlogBox initiative, have also officialized one of the stalwarts of fan message boards for LI, IslanderMania.com to be the legitimate fan forums for Islander fans. This move is unprecedented in national sports, but actually been done for radio and media sites. The Opie & Anthony Radio Show is one such example, having done the same thing recognizing their fanbase as their best base when they returned from exile on the radio airwaves. The Isles chose their best and proactive team base to be their main.

How it changes the texture and nature of the forums will be seen. But O&A fans will tell you, it DOES change, despite empty words to the opposite effect. Overall, this will, despite some speed bumps, be changes for the good. The board might lose some of those who liked the independence, but will gain a new audience and membership as well as the Isles and the forum feed off one another. For NYI, it is a win-win situation. Building a forum base, moderating, and administrating a fan forum is tough work for an organization that has a lot more things on it's plate. For IslanderMania, it will be growth and recognition for their efforts.

So, fans, this new breed, have been christened to be official in the new landscape. The same landscape that now has two new blogs from the Islanders VP of Media Relations, Chris Botta, as well as his assistant, Corey Witt, the Media Relations Coordinator…who will be joining those like myself, Tom Liodice, Jon Jordan, and many others as part of the new Islander BlogBox, bringing forth the intertwining of fans, blogs, opinion and sports teams.

So here comes the new school. This new breed. They aren't the new hockey, we are. We have become far more powerful as consumers by simply utilizing new avenues than just shouting from our seats or at a TV screen. Hockey has recognized this and have scrambled to embrace the new fan landscape... something other organizations have been loathe to do simply because it is such a radical and fundamental change of control.

A Little Hockey/Internet History

Years ago, ancient times to the new digital period of the internet, Chris Botta was already starting this movement. It was amidst the Mike Milbury period and just shaking the Milstein’s cheap and sweaty grip on Islander’s ownership. They had just updated their website from a static mess of bandwidth and were reaching out under the new initiatives and money by new owner Charles Wang to bring back fans. Back then, your loudmouth author was part of that movement, as we were able to email Chris directly to ask some players questions.

My question was directed at none other than Zdeno Chara, asking him if he has thought about using his size, disposition and defensive play to take over the game and opposing players like Derian Hatcher did on Dallas (at the time). Zdeno didn’t seem to understand the question, and it was only under Jacques Martin's tutelage in Ottawa that Chara really began to see how he could affect the dynamic of the game. But, alas, Zdeno was young, and I was just another clod with an opinion hoping that our giant gawk of a dman would get the point and begin to play with some nasty, physical moxy. I was a few years too early.

Blog Speed Ahead

That was then, and this is now…where the Islanders and Botta have moved far forward, reading & empowering message boards and fanbases, answering annoying bloggers who ask about Gordie Dwyer accepting a camp try-out, starting the BlogBox, and now blogging themselves.

Yes, some bloggers and writers have shimmied and shivered when they call first called the BlogBox a “fan box”, but it’s really the new breed of fan, who are writers, speakers, opinion-mongers and analysts leveling the playing surface of news, information and interactivity between the fan and hockey. It’s recognition of the new fan in hockey…and it’s an amazing time to be a fan, blogger, and opinionated fellow. For we have taken the lead, and our time is now.


Email: B.D. Gallof
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