Our Follow-Up On the Puck Daddy Story About Credentials From the Rangers

By now I think you have all heard about or read the story on yesterday's Puck Daddy, a great story by Greg regarding the policies that some teams, including our New York Rangers, have in place regarding bloggers. As promised, I wanted to talk to you guys about it personally.

I reached out to the Rangers last year to look into the possibility of being credentialed for certain things, maybe a few practices, preseason games, and possibly a few games during the season. No more than fifteen or twenty minutes after I sent them this email, I received a four word email reply, essentially telling me that Ranger policy is not to credential websites/

I reached out to them a few more times, tried to explain and show them (although I am sure they already know, because they ARE reading us every day, I know this for a fact), that we are more than just a website, that we have unparalleled fan interaction, a weekly radio show devoted to the team, etc. The Rangers agreed to put us on their press release list, and then in time provided us the opportunity to speak to Dave Maloney on our radio show.

After that, the Rangers started their own internet radio show, and quite frankly communication with the team stopped. I'm not going to lie to you, it bummed me out, but we all talked about it here at the Banter, and got over it.

When we heard about the "Fire Sather Rally" taking place last season, we decided to cover it. We talked about it here on the site, talked to the organizers on the radio show, and did a live remote the day of the rally.

Quite simply, we covered the rally because it was newsworthy. Ranger fans were talking about it, and if it's something Ranger fans are talking about, we aren't going to ignore it. We aren't here to sugarcoat anything, we don't give you the homogenized look at the team that you get from some other places. If the Rangers stink, we like to think Ranger fans are smart enough to realize that. If there is another rally in the future, we'll cover it the exact same way.

The Rangers decided to punish us at the time for covering the rally by cutting us off the press release list. It was no great loss, although we did have to find the news that Matt Zaba was sent to Hartford and Chad Johnson was recalled and vice-versa elsewhere.

The Rangers are completely paranoid about controlling information. In their mind it seems that if no one talks about their problems, it's like they don't exist.

After careful consideration, we've come to the conclusion we're better off being on the "outside" when it comes to the Rangers. Being inside just means you get to ask Chris Drury about his Little League days, and what flavor ice cream Michael Del Zotto likes.

In further reading the article that Puck Daddy did yesterday, the Rangers are under the impression that we, Blueshirt Banter, were the organizers of the rally. This is false. It is all on record on this website, and in the podcasts of our radio show, that the rally was organized by a group of season ticket holders who have simply had enough.  All we did was cover what we felt was a newsworthy event.

The Rangers feel that we "crossed over into irresponsible fan behavior." If discussing and covering something the fans are upset about when it comes to the Rangers constitutes "irresponsible fan behavior", then so be it. I can live with that, instead of just ignoring a problem and hoping nobody notices, which is the current M.O. for MSG. It's the same reason why I no longer care if we are ever credentialed, because I wouldn't want to be put into a position where I couldn't say what was on my mind for fear of retribution.

As you know, thanks to the power of this fantastic network we are a part of, for the second straight year, I was credentialed by the NHL for the 2010 Draft. I can assure you that both years I was in attendance at the Draft, both myself and the other members of the SBNation Hockey group acted with the utmost professionalism.

But that doesn't seem to matter to the Rangers. They didn't take too kindly to the NHL allowing me to attend the draft, because of our coverage of the rally.

As a result, the Rangers have asked the NHL to review their policy on credentials and give the team more ability to decide who is credentialed at the next Draft, so that they can maintain control over who has access to their drafted players.

I am hoping that the NHL doesn't buckle to the Rangers demands, not just because I would love to cover another draft for Blueshirt Banter, but because I think it sets a bad precedent in a time where the media and information is moving forward, and because of the Rangers undying need to control information, keeping members of the "new media" out would be a huge step backward.  The NHL is at the forefront of this brave new world we are a part of, it would be a huge disappointment to see them revert back to the old ways.

Just one last thing, when longtime Rangers PR man John Halligan passed away in January, we already had a radio show scheduled that night. I reached out to the Rangers to see if anyone from the organization would come on and say a few words and I received no response. So instead we were able to get one of John's co-authors from "100 Ranger Greats" to come on and speak about John, who never treated anyone the way this current front office treats people. We interviewed John last November, and he treated us as equals, not as fans, not as bloggers, just people. It should be noted that John passed away before the rally took place.

For us, it is all about being honest and ethical, and trying to maintain our integrity. We are committed to all three, and we won't waver from this, not even for the Rangers. What we will do is what we have always tried to do: bring you unbiased statistical breakdowns, insightful (we hope) commentary, and honest analysis.