A Blogger's reply to Oren Koules

“I was naive to think that that wouldn’t happen. That’s what shocked me.”

“I think blogs, have really …given credence to that. All of a sudden if someone writes something on a blog, you know, someone that pays $29 for an Internet connection, and all of a sudden people now quote somebody that’s in the blog. I’m not talking about accredited journalists, by the way, a lot of the bloggers are very accredited, but I’m just saying after a while it just gets old, opinion after opinion. …People say something about me, you know, or about our organization, even big time mediums, I always say the same thing. Did they call me? My phone didn’t ring.

-- Oren Koules - 620 WDAE radio interview remarks

Dear Oren Koules:

I've been blogging about the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise, off and on, for five years. In that time, I must say that I have not been acknowledged by the Lightning organization in any way, shape or form until your statements Friday on WDAE.  Even if it's in vagueness and potentially directed at others in the US and Canada before myself.

In that regard, there's no way that you or anyone involved with your group is to blame for a lack of outreach to the electronic media in the past. That was a holdover relationship between the team and unaccredited, unacknowledged and unimportant individuals such as myself.  Raw Charge, and Boltsmag.com before it, may have been an "appreciated" asset by the team for free publicity, but it was seen as a threat to the franchise's online presence.  Or so, at least, communication between me and a former team official presented my blogging as such.

As for never calling you, Mr. Koules, regarding anything with the franchise: I go back to the fact that I've never seen the Lightning even acknowledge the existence of the blogosphere (both hockey and hyper-local), let alone respond to it.  It's very good news to know there is an open access policy in place by you and the team, but at the same time -- it'd help if we had known about it.  Venting about the blogosphere on sports-talk radio is one thing, sir...  Yet I (and most bloggers in general) have been accessible/approachable to the Lightning organization for years (if not by phone, due to my hearing impairment, then electronically through email) without nary a word from the past executives or the current crop of executives working for the team.

No press releases, no marketing attempts, no "please retract - you're factually incorrect" statements, no access permission, no discussion.  Nothing.

In fact, in the past, I've received more team-initiated communication attempts from the cross-state-rival Florida Panthers as well as other NHL franchises than from the team I cover... But I digress.

Bloggers, both locally and nationally, have written nasty things about you and others at OK Hockey (I know I'm guilty of this to one degree or another).  Most of it comes from opinion and passion for the game and the team.  If it's "ignorant" or "inaccurate", "true" or "false",  it's all subjective.  That's the way of opinion, as you know.  Certain groups will poo-poo hockey in this sunbelt market regardless, making it a no-win situation of mass-marketed opinion.  They will work against you (or anyone else who controls the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise) and not try to understand you as they don't want to understand - their opinion is set for the franchise.  Others will cover, nit-pick, and dissect everything with the team from transactions to the most inane of decisions by the franchise at all levels of operation. That's the way of the blogosphere.

But back to my point, sir:  it would have been nice to have someone with the Lightning ccontact me or other bloggers on the Internet to at least reach out, or go so far as to discuss a story or statement that you or others in the organization want clarified.  A first step.  It'd be much more constructive than (posting) this message in response to a media-initiated dialog and hoping someone with the team -- or you, personally -- respond.

With all the snark, sarcasm and negativity I have expressed through my writing the past few months toward OK Hockey (Brian Lawton, Len Barrie, and yourself) I must say that I do respect you for reaching out - even through venting.  You have a record of being accessible that far exceeds the accessibility of all previous Lightning owners.  And while opinions and concerns that I may have will continue to be published, regardless of any rapport between OK Hockey and myself, I do welcome an open dialog.

I'm a fan first, sir.  I may be just another schlub with Internet access but I'm not the enemy.

Regards,
John Fontana

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