Ritch Winter’s take on a recent blog post on Pass It To Bulis led to a minor brouhaha on the Internets today.

Winter, who took issue with the theory being floated that he was the unnamed person in a Tony Gallagher column talking about Cody Hodgson’s icetime, went on at great lengths to express his disdain for the current state of journalism, narrowing his focus more specifically on sports journalism and how they’re constantly in a rush to be first and not factual.

Of that, there can be no dispute. Plugged-in hockey fans have sniggered over TSN or Sportsnet passing on an Eklund rumour or, worse, taking a completely made-up rumour and passing it along like it was the gospel truth. There were a group of folks on a hockey board I used to frequent who fabricated a ‘hockey insider’ personality and used careful planning and organisation to make him seem legitimate.

Bob McKenzie, arguably the top hockey writer in Canada, even gave this person a shout out.

We’ve also had unfortunate incidents like when CTV Ottawa had reported that Pat Burns had passed away, only to receive a phone call from Pat Burns correcting them of their mistake.

More recently, there were the rumours regarding contract extensions for Ron Wilson and Steve Tambellini. Wilson’s eventual contract was nowhere near as long as the original, but folks picked it up and ran with it like it was the gospel truth.

I joked about Tambellini, but made note that this wasn’t confirmed and that it was very much a rumour. I had no idea of knowing, and no legitimate hockey press was corroborating my story.

Winter wasn’t happy that he wasn’t contacted regarding his story and that the speculation upon which the entire blog post hinged on, that he was the one who was griping about Hodgson’s icetime, wasn’t immediately diffused.

I love Pass It To Bulis. Harrison and Daniel are great guys who churn out a ridiculous amount of content. I have nothing respect for them, and the fact that Harrison’s taken on responsibilities at Puck Daddy is awesome. Makes me think I might be able to make something of myself one day.

I also love Ritch Winter. Anyone who can rip the Calgary Flames in the manner he did gets a gold star and a beer of his choice any day of the week. It makes for great reading material and copy.

So, in a situation like this, it’s like Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart, or CM Punk vs. Brian Danielson. Pitting my favorites against each other. Not cool.

That said, I have to agree with Ritch Winter.

The main complaint from bloggers is that they aren’t taken seriously. Damien Cox rails against ‘bloggers’ (like we’re a collective, organised mass, or an easily constructed, easily dismissed stereotype.) The Edmonton Oilers want nothing to do with bloggers. Steve Simmons, based on my experiences with him, isn’t a fan, either.

There’s a desire for legitimacy from bloggers. For good reason. In this day and age, we live in such an information rich society, newspapers aren’t really the gatekeepers that they once were. Information flows a lot more freely, and it’s entirely feasible that you could ‘compete’ with a legitimate organisation if you find the right niche or area to specialise in.

And I get it. Pass It To Bulis isn’t a 100% serious blog. There is a strong comedic element to their content (heck, in a discussion that’s going on AS WE SPEAK Harrison jokingly asked me if I even read his stuff when I asked if bloggers want to be taken seriously) and, to be entirely fair, the PITB Twitter account did acknowledge that they may be more careful moving forwards.

That said, when you offer up serious criticism about someone like Damien Cox (random note: I didn’t know there was a shout-out to me in the linked post until just now) or write the black players/Atlanta Thrashers story, and delve into ’serious’ blogging, you can’t hide behind ‘we’re all about the Photoshops. Honest!’
A lot of people have been dismissive of Winter’s complaints, though, and I think it’s doing a disservice to the blogging community and the people who are cranking out solid content. When a blog like Pass It To Bulis gets a stamp of legitimacy from the Vancouver Sun, reader expectations rise. People may (arguably unfairly) put the Bulis Boys on the same level as the Sun and, as a result, have the same expectations.

And, unfortunately, legitimacy isn’t going to be handed over to you. Otherwise Eklund would be God-Emperor of the Internet and I would have ended it all in a tragic bloodbath by bludgeoning people to death with an oversized letter E. Harrison and Daniel have earned their little corner of the Internet by cranking out solid material that is well written, funny, insightful and engaging.

But getting that endorsement from a legitimate media outlet, you still have to be careful, in my estimation. You have to give Winter a chance to respond, mostly because that’s what a legitimate newspaper or news outlet would do.

The other issue is that blogging and online media is still very much a developing medium. I don’t think blogging-as-news (or as a substitute, depending on your views) has been completely fleshed out yet, and we’re probably one website or app or idea away from really solidifying things. So there’s still a lot of finding your way.

I’m not saying that PITB was doing anything intentionally malicious or duplicit. There’s no way that would be the case. I do think that there are considerations to be made and that it isn’t fair to dismiss Winter as being another out of touch ‘old’ person who doesn’t ‘get’ blogs.

It’s awesome that PITB is taking this in stride. I just think other folks out there need to be cognizant of this as well.

Typical-CDCer

Earlier today, Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland talked some trash on Chicago radio, making fun of the Sedins by calling them sisters. Vancouver Canucks fans were, predictably, outraged at yet another public figure making fun of the Sedins. Honestly, it’s nothing particularly new.

Hilariously enough, the ‘Sedin Sisters’ name has a long history. One that originated in Vancouver. By both the media and the fans. See, these days, it’s very much the vogue thing to adore the Sedins and view them as being pretty freaking awesome. Unfortunately, there was a rather loud vocal contingent of Canucks fans who were very keen on jettisoning the ’soft’ and ‘weak’ ‘Sisters.’Heck, even Mike Gillis wasn’t a fan when he first became GM of the Canucks.

Even as recently as 2009, there were serious thoughts being bandied around about not re-signing Henrik and Daniel. Insane thoughts, like signing Marion Gaborik and Marion Hossa, both players well known for their tenacity, were being seriously proposed by some…enthusiastic fans.

So if Canucks fans want to get enraged about other folks calling the Sedins ‘Sisters’, they really have no one to blame but themselves. It was a nickname foisted upon them by both the fans and the media and it’s stuck ever since.

So apparently the Kurtenblog folks have moved on and there is a void on the Vancouver Province’s website! Perfect, sez I, a journalism student who is looking for any sort of opportunity to showcase myself. And what better way than to dash my hopes and dreams as a journalist than right here, right now? Exactly! So, here is my most recent post up on here, addressing the Canucks enforcer ‘issue.’

Click to continue reading “The Canucks Enforcer”

There’s not a whole lot that can be said about the death of Wade Belak right now.

It is known that he was found dead, early Wednesday afternoon. Beyond that, things are unclear. Speculation has abounded regarding Belak’s cause of death, misinformation that unfortunately found the ears of his family before the proper authorities could do so. There are rumours going around that Belak committed suicide or that his death was related to misusing narcotics. Regardless, Belak’s death is tragic and is yet another instance of a young man dying way before his time.

There is going to be a lot of talk in the next few days regarding enforcers, the state of fighting in the NHL and what the NHL, the NHLPA and the respective teams should be doing to assist players. Again, I feel that this is an important discussion and is something that needs to be addressed and, time permitting, I will attempt to share my thoughts on that specific issue if I have the opportunity to do so.

Click to continue reading “Wade Belak”

So, there’s been a bit of a furor on Twitter regarding a recent retraction from the Toronto Star.

Yesterday, an article was posted dealing with the death of Rick Rypien on their website. In it was a quote that was attributed to Mike Gillis describing Rypien as being ‘crazy.’ A rather bold and out of character remark from Gillis, given how much respect and privacy he had afforded Rypien when he was with the Canucks organization. Also something that the local media in Vancouver would have been all over were it actually something that he had said.

Doing some digging, it turns out that the quote in question came from a Rick Rypien’s vandalized Wikipedia article. For those that aren’t familiar with Wikipedia, it’s an online repository of knowledge that anyone can contribute and edit. While there are efforts to make sure that all information on Wikipedia is presented as being factual, there are individuals who come along and vandalize Wiki pages. Stephen Colbert popularized it in a segment a few years back where he implored viewers to go and edit the Wikipedia article on elephants to state that the population had tripled in the past six months. Wiki pages for hot topics or recently deceased individuals are popular targets for vandals and are frequently targeted.

Wikipedia also archives all pages to guard against vandalism, which is how I found the offending quote. For those who are lazy or find Wikipedia confusing, here it is:

ryp-wiki

Another incidence of vandalism, the “nuttier than a fruitcake” bit can also be seen. As you can see, the quotation is word for word the same one that is used in the now edited article, but with the omission of the words “but crazy.”

Michael Woods is the person whose name appears on the byline, so it would appear that it would be he is responsible for it. He also appears to be recently graduated or currently enrolled in post secondary, so you would imagine that the dangers of Wikipedia would have been pounded into his head over and over. I know when I was in undergrad, I was continually told by numerous professors that Wikipedia is unreliable and it shouldn’t be used as the foundation for any serious research.

That isn’t to say that Wikipedia isn’t useful. It’s great as a jumping off point for information and as a collection of relevant news articles for certain topics. I use it quite frequently to get information, but I’m always careful about it. I’ll check the references section at the bottom and try and use the original material rather than the Wikipedia article.

I also find it a little insulting that Woods, who was tasked with writing this article, seemed to be completely oblivious about his topic. The secrecy surrounding Rypien’s personal problems is well documented and to call someone ‘crazy’, especially a very prominent and public figure like Mike Gillis, is insensitive and should’ve raised an alarm bell. This is assuming that Woods had actually done the appropriate research on the topic he was covering. Given the nature of journalism, where tight deadlines reign supreme,this may have been a very bad gaffe on his behalf. That the crazy remark didn’t register as unusual to Woods also shows a disregard towards Rypien’s situation, as apparently he found nothing wrong with the boss calling an employee who is going through a rough patch as ‘crazy.’ Insensitive and speaks to some of the issues I have in a forthcoming blog post.

But suppose Woods missed it. If Woods wasn’t aware that the ‘crazy’ quotation was in there, it speaks to an ignorance of his own work and gives an even lazier impression as to how he approaches his work. Some would say ‘that’s what editors are for’, but editors can’t be expected to check every quotation, every factoid. That’s the writer’s responsibility.

Either way, it’s a really bad situation and I hope that Mr. Woods has learnt a valuable lesson.

Tonight’s game actually motivated me to write a blogpost, as I wanted to go over something that has been infuriating me for a while now.

Specifically, Alain Vigneault’s treatment of Keith Ballard. I could go back even further and trace this into his attitudes about Brendan Morrison, but that ship has sailed, fought in a few wars, been decommissioned and is now used as an artificial reef somewhere off the coast of Australia. A digression.

A lot of talk is being made about Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton. While I don’t want to get into that, as it’s going to be discussed ad nauseum over the next couple of days, I will say that I hope that Horton is okay and makes a full recovery. Bruins fans have already had their hearts torn from their chests with Marc Savard’s concussion woes and it wouldn’t do to see another talented player get sidelined. Imagine losing Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin to injuries. Yeah.

Anyway, I found Alain Vigneault’s decision to put Andrew Alberts into the lineup to be an intriguing one, mostly because I really didn’t get why a sometimes effective, bottom pairing defenseman was getting put into the Stanley Cup Finals over Keith Ballard, a guy who has shown he’s capable of being a second pairing defenseman. I guess Vigneault was getting cute and figured what’s the worst that could happen? Andrew Alberts could log significant minutes if needed…right?

Well, with your top blueliner, Dan Hamhuis, out potentially for the entire series and another defenseman getting ejected tonight Canucks fans got the answer to those questions. Respectively, 8-1 and no, absolutely not.

Alberts was on the ice for 4 goals against, 2 even strength, bringing his +/- to -5, tied with Henrik for second worst on the team. (Christian Ehrhoff, who hasn’t had the best playoffs this season, has the worst at -10.) He looked slow and ponderous out there, with shades of his whistle chasing behaviour rearing it’s ugly head in front of Luongo’s net.

This makes me wonder: why is Keith Ballard not seeing any icetime? Ballard has been on the ice for 2 even strength goals against in 9 playoff games. The Canucks are 7-2 with Ballard in the lineup. He’s played more hockey than Alberts has, both in the regular and post-season. Heck, Alberts hasn’t seen regular icetime since February.

Ballard has provided huge hipchecks, including an awesome one on Jamie McGinn in the Sharks series. He’s a guy who can log more icetime than Alberts and, in a situation like tonight where Rick Bowness was forced to shuffle his lineup because of Rome being ejected, could have handled those minutes, even if Vigneault is loathe to give him any playing time.

Vigneault’s fascination with grinders and guys with size has been one of the things that has annoyed me immensely since he’s been the Canucks bench boss. I don’t know if Alberts being 6′5 and Ballard being 5′11 is one of the factors in Vigneault’s decision making process, but frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

Unfortunately, this is the Stanley Cup Finals. This isn’t a regular season game where a single loss can be shrugged off and adjustments can be made. Everything matters. One win can swing the momentum back in favour of your opponent and you can’t take chances in putting questionable players into your lineup when there are better options available to you. It’s not as though Ballard has been injured or is off rescuing kittens from burning buildings in Madrid. He’s right there on the team, has shown he can contribute and be a positive addition.

So the question is, why doesn’t he play? Your guess is as good as mine. It could be size. It could a personality clash with him and Alain Vigneault. But, barring a serious injury of some kind (and there has been nothing to indicate that such is the case) Ballard should be playing, especially with Ehrhoff looking like a mess and Dan Hamhuis being out of the lineup.

Instead, Vigneault opts to go with Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome. Potentially burning bridges with Ballard. Maybe eroding some confidence.

And now, with the Canucks getting a thorough jolly rogering from the Bruins, Vigneault may just have to turn to a player he has alienated for no discernible reason or purpose and expect him to provide a high level of play in most important set of hockey games in Vancouver Canucks history. This, while leaving his star goaltender to languish out on the ice for the entirety of those 60 minutes, leaving two huge question marks/messes on the Canucks hands going into Game 4.

The word that comes to mind, when thinking of Rome and Vigneault? Stupid.

Let’s hope it’s not too late.

The Stanley Cup FINALS?

The Canucks are in the Stanley Cup Finals?!

Yes, we’re all perched on the precipice of what could be Vancouver’s Greatest Hockey Moment. Less than 24 hours from puck drop and I’m still having problems processing it. This entire season that I’ve watched, sometimes in pubs and bars with friends, sometimes after long shifts at 4 in the morning thanks to the wonders of PVR, other times with the folks I know through Twitter, has been utterly surreal.

A second consecutive Art Ross title for the franchise.

A Jennings trophy shared between (arguably) the best goaltending duo in the league.

A President’s Trophy, the franchise’s first.

A Hart trophy nomination.

A Vezina trophy nomination.

A Jack Adams trophy nomination.

A Selke trophy nomination.

An absolutely amazing team, an absolutely amazing season, with the potential to bag the most coveted of hockey trophies: the Stanley Cup.

I guess now would be a good as time as any to make a return to blogging!

100 games, with as many as 7 left to go for this season, all on the 40th anniversary of this club’s founding.

There’s been talk, lately, of ‘Canada’s Team.’ Despite throwing that term around jokingly on Twitter and to razz a few Flames fans, it’s not really something I’ve given a lot of thought.

On the one hand, yeah, given that the nation has shared in the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg and there’s some sort of national pride behind the sport of hockey, you’d think that the Canucks could get in on that. If you go off what Ipsos-Reid has to say, support is running pretty high for the Canucks. Good on ya.

On the other hand, does it really matter? Since when has assimilation ever been a desired Canadian trait? There’s no need to press gang everyone from Alberta to Ontario onto the Canucks bandwagon. If they want to come along for the ride, great. If the folks in Manitoba want to fret over the  Winnipeg NHL Team, more power to them.

But this sense of entitlement? I don’t get where ANYONE is coming from on this. Who gives a good goddamned if Toronto is or isn’t cheering for the Canucks. Last I checked, there was a great deal of moral outrage when this musical abomination was forced upon us.

The presumption that any NHL club could dare to speak for the rest of Canada (particularly the widely loathed Toronto Maple Leafs) ticked off lots of Vancouver faithful.

So why, then, is it okay to embrace this silly melting pot style behaviour and try and inflict it upon the rest of Canada?

I’m not from Vancouver, heck, not even from British Columbia, but one of the things that has always struck me, an outsider, about Vancouver is how inclusive and varied the whole city is. To me, that sense of multiculturalism, that there’s Hockey Night in Punjabi, that the team’s captain is a Swede, one of the most important players on the team is an American and that there are Finns, Germans and people from just about every region of Canada is something that is uniquely Vancouver and should be celebrated as part of the hockey culture. (Except for Keith Ballard, cause man, AV seems to hate that guy…)

I could be out to lunch with this, I’ll freely admit. I’m an Albertan who spent a lot of his time in Ontario, so I might just have a distorted view of how things ‘really’ are in Vancity. But bottom line? Who cares if the Canucks aren’t accepted as being ‘Canada’s Team’? They’re Vancouver’s Team, a team which is uniquely Canadian.

So the official word today is that Manny Malhotra is going to miss the remainder of the NHL regular season and playoffs, due to the horrific injury he sustained March 16 against the Avalanche, when a puck flew up the length of his stick and struck him in the eye.

The Canucks front office has been largely keeping mum on the severity of his injury, although rumours that Malhotra ‘lost an eye’ have been debunked. Current word going around now is that Malhotra’s injury has caused such severe swelling around the eye that determining just how serious the damage is indeterminable for now.

The injury is horrific and I believe most hockey fans wish nothing but a full recovery for Malhotra.

That said, there has been a lot of hand wringing going on amongst Canucks fans once news broke on Malhotra’s season being done.

Click to continue reading “Manny :(

Okay, so last night’s Canucks game had some rather interesting visual stuff going on. No, the game wasn’t in 3D or anything fancy like that.

What was going on, though, was the implementation of advertising overlays on the glass behind both goalies nets, something which only TV viewers at home could see. BCIT and some vacuum cleaner company were the two that I remembered, but they were switching around rather frequently.

Unfortunately, the fan response to the advertisements was rather predictable. Most folks didn’t like the advertisements and felt that they had no place. The complaint that we were veering towards the ‘Europeanization’ of hockey, where players are so bedecked with advertising trappings that they more resemble NASCAR drivers than anything, was bandied about, while a lot of folks chalked up the decision for this new advertising scheme as being pure unadulterated greed on behalf of the Canucks organization.

While I am not a huge fan of advertising and have complained about things like McDonald’s being the ‘official’ restaurant of the Olympics (as though Olympians would continually seek out and eat McDick’s) in the past and am not trying to say ‘advertising is good’ I will say that advertising is, rather, a necessary evil when it comes to things like professional sports. For example, one of the biggest hurdles stopping NHL (re)-development in the city of Winnipeg is the lack of corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors are the ones who buy up those box seats and sink in money for season tickets, as well as arranging advertising and sponsorship in other areas. The owner of the Calgary Roughnecks recently had to post a rather humbling open letter because he was unable to pay the members of his team on time, partially due to a lack of corporate/local government support. While the NLL is a far cry from the NHL, there are historical precedents for Canadian NHL teams being in trouble. Which brings me to my first point…

- Sports teams need to plan ahead. The Oilers were on the verge of relocation to Houston before a coalition of local businesses stepped in to save the Oilers. The Flames were also in serious danger of being moved, as were the Canucks, all in the dark ages of the 90s. While yes, the Canucks and almost all Canadian franchises are doing very well for themselves financially, all the Loonie has to do is drop back down to being worth .60 and things start looking really bleak. Being able to pad the warchests helps to guard against potential future problems or financial hiccups, while experimenting with different methods of advertising opens up new revenue streams before they may be required. Having a warchest is handy, too because,

- Running a professional sports team is expensive. I’m not just talking about the salaries of the athletes. You’re looking at the training staff, the facilities, amenities and other bells and whistles that are available to the team. A lot of ink has been devoted to the strides Mike Gillis has made in transforming the Canucks front office. There were the sleep specialists that were brought in, dietary consultants for guys like Kyle Wellwood, renovations to the team’s locker room, having a team psychologist on the payroll (Len Zaichkowsky), having a ‘capologist’ with Lawrence Gilman, among many other things. Stuff like that adds up and, if you want to continue providing such things and becoming a ‘world class’ organization, on top of paying for player salaries and spending damn near close to the cap every year to boot, costs money. It also allows the Canucks to bury players in the minors, like what the New York Rangers did with Wade Redden and his $6.5M contract.

Last year, the Canucks ended up putting Mathieu Schneider’s $3.5M contract in the minors until they managed to work out a trade with the Coyotes. Brad Lukowich also spent part of the year in the AHL, despite having a $1.5M cap hit. I’m not saying the Canucks should be constantly burying players in the minors (that’s a sign of bad management), it is nice to be able to afford to take the financial hit and have that particular option available. It also opens up the opportunity for Jason Krog (remember him?) deals to be signed. For those unawares, Krog, who has pretty much become a career AHLer, was signed to a deal that paid him quite a bit while in the AHL, with the Canucks footing a significant chunk of the bill. The deal was primarily done to give the Moose some sorely needed scoring depth, rather than help out the ‘main’ club. All that money has to come from somewhere and hey, advertising is one method of generating revenue. Which brings me to my third point…

- The ‘Europeanization’ of Hockey. Ignoring that this disturbingly sounds like something Don Cherry would say about visors, I really don’t think that there’s a lot to worry about here. While advertisements on hockey jerseys are garish and ugly and European jerseys are almost all uniformly (pun intended!) ugly, I don’t see it being an issue here in North America. The biggest reason for me is that merchandise sales are one of the big money movers for NHL teams (or, heck, most professional leagues in North America.) Start throwing McDonald’s logos or Budweiser logos on jerseys and you will have a very angry fan backlash, which will more than likely translate into less jersey sales. Another way to look at it is, would the money lost from slapping ads on jerseys be offset by the money gained from a corporate ad jersey sponsorship? Doubtful. (On the other hand, the money gained from overlay ads on televised games offsets the lost revenue that would come from people turning off the game and boycotting Sportsnet.)

The second reason is that European hockey leagues and the NHL are operating in completely different stratospheres and, subsequently, completely different operating budgets. Leagues such as the SEL simply cannot throw millions of dollars at a single player because they do not have the money available to do so. Why? Because they are making less money. Yet, despite making less money, these teams are having to deal with the same day to day operating costs that their NHL brethren do. Thus, different ways of trying to make money are explored and, as a result, ugly jerseys.

Additionally, if the motivations for doing so are ‘pure greed’, then why haven’t the NFL, MLB or NBA gone down this dark road and started slapping on corporate ads on their jerseys? I’d say that it most likely is tied into fan outrage and fear of the terrible backlash they might face were such an idea were implemented.

While having more advertising creep into telecasts isn’t my ideal, perfect world of How Hockey Should Be Enjoyed, it is something that needs to be done in a multimillion dollar league where the goal is to be the very best. As the menu on McDonald’s states, smiles are free…and smiles won’t get you the Stanley Cup, no matter how many there are.

One of the more popular pieces I had last season was during the playoffs, when I did a ‘Meet the Kings’ bit. It was a comedic bit that talked a bit about the players on the roster.

Since the regular NHL season is pretty darn close and there’s a lot of hype surrounding the Canucks, I thought I’d take the spotlight off them and focus it on the rest of the Northwest Division. First up is a team that probably has had more hype and attention this offseason than any other team that is not the Toronto Maple Leafs: the Edmonton Oilers.

I thought it’d be fun to take a not-serious approach to things, and try and get all the other NW Division teams written up as well. We’ll see how it goes through the next couple of days.  Keep in mind this is all in fun and is not meant to be a serious take on the Oilers, so calm down before sending me an angry e-mail.

Click to continue reading “Meet the Oilers: 2010/11 Edition!”

This site is trash! There, I just saved you from making a hilarious joke. I like to blog about hockey, mostly the Canucks. Sometimes I'll write about movies, video games or something else. I am a nerd living in Calgary. See the About page if you want more details!

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