Why can't hockey writers be questioned?

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/29/2008 04:04:00 PM | | | | |
Globe & Mail: William Houston of the Globe & Mail asks his readers should Hockey Night In Canada commentator Don Cherry be allowed to put down Jermain Franklin, a TSN reporter who asked a question of San Jose Sharks coach Ron Wilson and was ridiculed on Cherry's Coach's Corner for doing so.

Mr Houston speculates at TSN, the hockey people are upset with Cherry over his denouncing Franklin on Monday night and says can you imagine TSN's Mike Milbury airing a clip of a muddled query by Hockey Night host Ron MacLean or one of dozens of leading questions by reporter Cassie Campbell, and then belittling MacLean or Campbell on the air?

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I really have nothing to write about Don Cherry, Ron MacLean or anyone else in terms of what happened in this instance. But I do have to ask why not put the print media under the spotlight and question their hockey viewpoint, what they are asking and why?

Bill Guerin jumped on a Newday writer earlier this year with the Ranger-hangover questions. It was more like the writer had Ranger hangover and after a few questions Guerin got tired of being asked. Any writer asking questions can create any theme they want to an article.

For all the talk of bloggers being fans the only difference seems to me (beyond some professional writers having their credentials) is the bloggers at least wear the teams colors in public.

Seems Newsday pays Steve Zipay to cover media, same for Richard Sandomir in the Times, Bob Raissman in the Daily News and Mr Mushnick over at the Post. Why not do articles questioning the hockey writers and their agenda with coverage and what teams they are die-hard fans of?

Over on the political channels they tell you going in when someone from a media outlet does an interview who they prefer or what party they have a vested interest in.

How come Newsday completely omits Greg Logan's tenure as a Ranger beatwriter in his profile?

I think it would be great to hire someone to watch the writers work a lockeroom and see who they like vs who they do not like and then follow the coverage. I would love to see who Greg Logan wants to speak with after games and who he goes to for quotes vs who he avoids at all costs.

You could do that with all the local hockey writers. Larry Brooks and Jay Greenberg are visibly disgusted with Rick DiPietro after beating the Rangers and are seeing complaining before leaving the Isles lockeroom without a comment.

Watching Peter Botte and the latest Post part-time writer and who they go to would be more fun than the interviews themselves.

Mr Botta could probably write a book about those kinds of experiences.

You see trends in the reporting, some seem fair, others do not. Writers can make or break players or teams and the fans take everything written (including writer speculation vs actual quotes) as gospel.

If Mr Logan wants to speculate Rick DiPietro is hurt that's fair enough
(turned out he was right) but when he's covering games and sees him playing well after the all-star game but the other team simply is scoring on good setups and only goes to the numbers to make a statistical argument he should sit, it's fair to ask is Mr Logan watching the games or was there an issue between him and the goaltender?

Anyone who thinks for a minute sportswriters do not rip players or create issues with players they do not get along with do not understand these writers want quotes, have deadlines and there are some players or teams they simply do not like.

Sports editors and publishers push these folks to stir things up as well to sell papers, a majority of this kind of coverage usually comes from that.

And sure you can bet some players want no part of some writers or any writer.

Of course Isles are not like other clubs where the writers compete with each other but still there is pressure to produce quotes and information.

In the Isles lockeroom the Newsday beatwriter can make or break you as what's written usually is what's quoted in the Canadian press and websites which gives fans their perception of a player. It's why a Radek Martinek can only be under-rated if he's playing well in league circles.

Alexei Yashin was someone who did not fill Alan Hahn's quotebook so he was not protected by the former beatwriter. Mr Hahn flat out misreported Mark Parrish signed only a one year extension in August 2005 and speculated he only took a year because of Yashin.

Sounded nice at the time but the only problem was Parrish did not sign, he signed in September just before the club left for camp. Mr Hahn was so busy running down Yashin in print (who was just named captain) he did not even bother to correct himself.

Mr Botta later ripped Alan Hahn and questioned Newsday's overall coverage back on April 7th 2006 here so it's not something new that I'm introducing here.

Same thing with Mr Logan and Ted Nolan's contract. Out of nowhere the coaches contract becomes this big issue because Mr Logan seemed to want to make it an issue. Ted Nolan said he did not have an agent but next thing we know game day coverage is not even written for articles about so-called rifts where the coach could be leaving or fired?

All Ted Nolan said was he has not met with the club about a contract extension, he was asked and gave an answer. What's the man supposed to do, lie or not answer the question? I guess he did not repeat Garth Snow's comments that management contracts are not for the public discussion.

To me that is simply poor journalism designed to stir things up and makes me question the writer. If Ted Nolan went to Mr Logan and said he feels he deserves a contract extension that's another matter and fair game.

What I do not like about Mr Logan's work most is he seemed to go out of his way to portray DiPietro as someone hurting his team by playing and created this entire issue about his games being cut back, despite playing as much as he did a year ago and facing close to two hundred less shots (something Mr Logan never wrote once) but not a single time did he write the other veterans were hurting the club by continuing to play while injured.

In fact he seemed to bend over backwards to protect the veterans in Newsday, but not Rick DiPietro. Even when Ted Nolan was blowing up at them the final days.

Doesn't that work both ways?

It's almost funny seeing Ted Nolan's answer when pressed about how many games Rick DiPietro should play next year because it's something he cannot answer for certain in advance nor should he even try. I guess that's why he jokes about him playing eight one games instead of eighty two.

I got an e-mail asking why I'm critical of Mr Logan and some of the writers recently?

All I can tell you is what I told the person who wrote me, I do things based on the article for that day. One day I can be critical, the next I have written the writer has done a good job with a lot of information. It's up to them and have credited Mr Logan for good work on a lot of occasions also. I defended Greg Logan for the headline writer making a mistake about Nolan threatening trades (which Mr Logan talked about) and I never criticize a writer for space given to them in a paper for coverage.

I see someone like Mr Fornabaio at the Ct Post and I honestly cannot recall one instance where he wrote something to stir something up. He covers the games, writes the comments and does his own speculation but I have never seen him write to create an issue.

That's why I think his work is excellent. The hockey tells the story.