Wednesday, November 05, 2008


"I'm never short on opinions" -- wanh waahhh

Old friend of the blog Chris Selley has a really smart piece up at his blog Megapundit. Veteran readers of his will find the take familiar, but it's worth reinforcing every so often. From Sports journalism, heal thyself:
Curtis’s take on modern sports journalism—the idea that it’s become too much like regular journalism—is an interesting one. He’s right as far as tone goes, we’d say. But it’s ironic how much of it, in Canada anyway, falls so disastrously short of all the other basic tenets of good journalism—most notably, you know, not making stuff up. And even when hockey journalism is more analytical, too often it’s boring, or it’s full of factual errors, or it’s just badly written, or it’s hopelessly predictable posturing—only I will speak truth to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment! And almost always, and most critically, it’s utterly joyless.

People debate the contribution blogs have made to the political life of the nation, but there can be no debate over their contribution to its sporting life. The leading hockey blogs have left the newspapers’ sports sections in their dust. They reliably offer better analysis, fresher perspectives, and vastly sharper and funnier writing. And most importantly, they recognize that while sports are important, they are games. Shedding tears over a hockey team makes no sense. Writing about a Toronto vs. Carolina hockey game as if it was a six-car pileup on Highway 401 makes even less.

Read the whole thing. I think he may (inadvertently or not) be a little hard on the beat writers, but with respect to columnists, I think he hits the mark. Particularly the "joyless" blast -- say what you want about Steve Simmons (his writing is ugly, he's frequently unfair, he might be the worst of the posturers, etc. -- all reasonable and probably true), but at the very least, when you read his Toronto Sun columns, you get the sense that he likes sports. I get no such sense from the scribblings of far too many guys, legends and Hall-of-Famers included.

Incidentally, the impetus for Selley's post was Theoren Fleury's opening go at a weekly column in the Calgary Herald, where Theo has quite the mix: red meat ("..I think there's something honourable in fighting through the interference, in being challenged."); barking at the moon ("Look, I understand the need to coach to a team's talent level, but how many people actually want to watch that?"); pffft -- whatever ("Hey, YOU could get the puck from the hash marks to the red line and dump it in deep. It's not that difficult."); and The HELL You Say:
Which brings me to the talent level. It's watered down. I enjoy watching Ovechkin play. Malkin. Iggy.

Bertuzzi, too, a big guy with skill. And Phaneuf. There are good players today. Just not enough. I'm sure David Moss is a great guy, I don't mean to pick on him, but when I see him out there on the second power-play unit... I mean, c'mon.

I guess the point about the talent being watered down is debatable but fair (though I'd certainly argue that the talent across the board is better today with 30 teams is better than when Fleury broke in and there was 21). But lest I let a day go by without giving David Moss some love: he would absolutely have a job tomorrow if the league contracted. And if Fleury played in his day like Todd Bertuzzi plays today, he'd have had Jason Krog's career.


Great post, Andy. I read this today as well, was going to get something up but you beat me to it.

Thanks Mike.

Regarding Moss on the PP, I would love to ask Theo who was going on the ice after him during the young gun years - Jeff Shantz and Blake Sloan?

word verification: sucky

Every once in a while an athlete says something interesting, and the media jackals pounce on it and make the player regret ever saying it. Modano's recent outburst is a notable example.

If repoters weren't such brain-dead drones just trying to fill column space, they'd have used Modano's comments as a launching point to examine whether hockey is regressing to Slapshot.

Instead, they run around throwing the quote at his teammates, coach and each other, hoping for the journalism equivalent of the "reaction shot."

It's low-brow. Takes no brain power whatsoever. And we learn nothing from it.

Seriously, is there no Oiler commentary on this blog anymore?

Thanks Mike.

Tee hee.

Great post, Andy.

Best of luck to the Calgary Flames this hockey season.

The Curtis article that Megapundit links too is excellent, and well worth the read.

It's funny, but looking at other papers, this feels a lot more urgent than just reading the Edmonton papers. Sure, most of the Edmonton guys are as good for a quote & cliche filled article as the rest of the national media, (which I'd attribute to this basic formula: Constant demand for material / Time to write material = Occasionally crappy articles) but they get some good quotes.

Craig MacTavish is definitely in the upper echelon of NHL coaches in terms of willingness and ability to articulate the way he sees the game. For a guy like me who likes math, the number of times a MacTavish quote has made me think of things differently is off the wall.

Goes without saying, but when the league had 21 teams there were no Russians, no Czechs, no Slovaks, half as many Americans, and about three Finns (all living in the same apartment on Jasper Avenue)...

Goes without saying, but when the league had 21 teams there were no Russians, no Czechs, no Slovaks, half as many Americans, and about three Finns (all living in the same apartment on Jasper Avenue)...

So I guess the point is that hockey has never, and never will, haver enough guys on the ice worth dropping $80 a pop to see.

Pretty depressing.

Who says great sportswriting is dead?

If it were up to me, I'd tell the beat writers to forget about getting quotes from players, just tell the story of the game, with as much wit, style and knowledge as they can muster.

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