My first interaction with Chris was way back in 2000 when Wang just assumed ownership. I was just a regular overopinionated fan (like that has changed) and they had asked through the Isles website for questions and feedback. I had always found him pretty open and candid, even back then.
Flash forward to today, as I read the newsfeed at 5:45am where there is an article by Greg Logan of Newsday about his resignation, and I am extremely shocked and disturbed. For Chris Botta was the man who created the Blog Box. In knowing we of the blog box were part of next years plans and in subsequent discussions, the news hit like a ton of bricks.
As we worked together this past season, we of the blog box affectionately referred to him as the "Blogfather". He has been a huge factor in my ability to provide accurate and insightful information. He has been open to suggestions, handled criticism, and given his own opinion with aplomb. And we as media and bloggers have benefitted from it, the fans who read us gain from it. Botta was a large part of accurate information coming to fans.
There is only two ways that this might have gone down. Logan alluded to my initial fear in his report. He cited that it was a curious coincidence as Chris Dey, Wang's son-in-law takes more control of the business product. I have been quite focused in my own blogs about how Chris Dey has inserted himself into the on-ice product over the course of the year, culminating in many features on the Isles website and partaking of a town meeting.
Maybe I'm old school, but having worked many years in a large business organization, I know that Sales should seldom be a story. They should be working behind the scenes to create business. Not be the business. So those stories have not ever really rubbed me right. Add to this that there has always been a split between the Sales branch and the organizational branch, seperating the on-ice from sales. This has led to an internal politics between the two. Was Botta a victim of a change internally to sweep away that separation? Or did he merely see the writing on the wall, and step away on his own terms?
Chris Botta, due to the blog box, had been invited to take part in the MLB GM meetings earlier in the season. One has to wonder if we will hear in a few days his leaping to his fave baseball team. One hopes. Because good guys should land on their feet.
Botta was one of the good guys....one of the most candid, blunt, wry wits that I have had privliedge to work with in hockey. Many news hounds I have worked with this season have only come away speaking highly of Botta. Especially those used to other organizations like the Rangers, NY Mets and Yankees. Evidently, many "media relations" are not so candid, insightful and open. And that isn't good for us bloggers, the media or the fans who read both. Chris Botta resigning leaves a huge gap and question mark to how the Isles will deal with the media, bloggers and fans. Because fans don't want to be "sold" to. They want and we want to provide accurate information.