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'We're all Islander' followers

I hope to have news in the next few weeks about a new, final relocation for this blog. It will include a new name (you know, because the "frontier" of yesteryear has been razed and paved with new subdivisions). But more importantly, I'll have a better user-friendly format where I can add features and invite user posts, as well as interact better with bloggers from other teams. Then I'm done moving, I promise.

I tease this now because there are some exciting media developments that should make this a great season to follow the club: First, Newsday -- recently purchased by Rangers owner Cablevision -- has pledged to increase its coverage of both clubs. Second, the Islander blogosphere is abuzz with news that former Isles PR man, "blog[box]father" and prolific blogger himself Chris Botta has announced his return as a regular blogger of the Isles.

I’m not going to jump to grand conclusions about an upswing in popularity or coverage for this much-maligned franchise. But the success of the BlogBox last year – and the fact that Newsday’s Greg Logan cites the prevalence of blog coverage of the Isles and Rangers as one reason Newsday is expanding coverage – are undeniably positive signs. Lacking a foothold in the "old media" world of network TV, the NHL must nurture its already strong presence on the Web – including its growing fountain of stats information -- to maintain its relevance.

Our multichannel media world, I suspect, is going to continue to specialize or "niche"-ize fans’ interests in all the major sports. The more the NHL fertilizes its already strong online niche, the better off the league-player "partnership" will be. Although, admittedly, that will mean ever-higher ticket prices and Center Ice subscription fees for us fans, who are generally left out of the "partnership." Alas.

Regardless, it’s great that a very connected yet off-the-payroll (sorta) guy like Botta will be following the team closely. I guarantee we're going to get tips and insights on the team and the league that other clubs' fans will not. That, combined with expanded Newsday coverage and the club’s growing fan blogsophere, will absolutely make following the team this season even more fun than last.

Heh, off the ice, anyway. On-ice joy is still TBD.