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The NY Islanders roll out the welcome mat for bloggers

The NHL continues to be out in front of other pro sports leagues when it comes to dealing with new media. As seen over at Kukla's Korner, the New York Islanders have announced a "Blog Box", which appears to be a segregated version of the press box for selected bloggers to have the opportunity to cover Islanders games and practices:

From the Islanders' press release:

We're setting up a BLOG BOX in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – sort of like a press box, but away from the scribes and broadcasters because we know you want to cheer, shout, have a pretzel and enjoy the game experience on your own terms.

We will provide you with a media pass for a few games next season and a seat in the NYI BLOG BOX. You will also receive your own set of Game Notes when you enter the Coliseum Press Gate. All you have to do is bring your note pad and/or voice recorder and cheer as loudly as you want. After the game you attend, we will set up an area where you can toss a few questions at a coach or players, based on your requests and their availability.

The NYI BLOG BOX will be your open forum. From start to finish, you'll be in control. All we ask is for the chosen bloggers to act respectfully in the restricted media areas and keep all critiques in good taste.

Perhaps best of all, your Islanders blog will generate tons of hits because it will be highlighted and linked on, one of the most popular websites in the National Hockey League.

Hmm... any chance of the Predators adopting such an enlightened policy? I'd certainly be interested. Anyways, we'll keep an eye on our Long Island colleagues this fall to see how this works out.

I like the idea of putting the bloggers in a separate area from the ink-stained wretches. Back in my "In the Crease" days I got to cover Games 1 & 2 of the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals from press row at Joe Louis Arena, and the fan in me had to be somewhat repressed during what may have been the single greatest game I've ever seen. In Game 2, the Red Wings twice came back from two-goal deficits to defeat the Washington Capitals 5-4 in overtime on a Kris Draper goal. That was also the game in which Esa Tikanen deked Chris Osgood out of the Detroit net but sent his backhander wide of the goal, which kept the Red Wings in the game. It was a tremendous night, but I had to keep my enthusiasm bottled up as part of the press corps.