The media make up of a sports city is a blend of many types of yarn woven into a rich pattern, often with the result greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Ok that was way over the top, but you get the idea. Different Strokes to rule the world; that kind of thing.
Toronto has or had the Al Strachans and the Damian Cox, the Stephen Brunts and the Steve Simmons. Some intended to analyze others tried annihilate a Leaf team that often left their fans wanting more.
In Calgary there was always Bruce Dowbiggen and Eric Francis to incite the riots, but also George Johnson to tie hockey into Vaudeville era or silent movies, Al Maki to reappear from some sabbatical with a behind the scenes look at goings on at the Dome, and the wise views of Eric Duhatchek to cut to the chase and provide a great summary.
Sprinkled in you had very calm rational hockey minds at work like Jean Lefevbre and Randy Sportak, two guys that were able to report both good and bad times with an even keel, leaving emotion to the fans.
So what happened?
Yesterday I tuned in to hear the Ken King / Darryl Sutter post mortum press conference and got pretty much what I expected. Very little.
The duo was heavily criticized last summer for not going before the podium soon enough after the Mike Keenan firing, so just knew that they’d have to come out before the ink dried on game 82’s write up.
And they did.
You also had to know that they would have very little to say, as how could they possibly have anything to say given …
a) the timing versus the end of the season
b) the fact that sharing their shopping list of changes to the whole world has only been an Edmonton Oiler plan and finally
c) they wouldn’t know of their own firings or possibly be expected to announce their own executions.
Yet in every paper and from every writer today you got dismay at all three points?
Have those articles written before you got there boys?
No differing views? Unique angles? Actual analogy of a hockey team and what seemed right to all but ended so badly? This isn’t Tampa people, our hockey writers should know more than the literary version of a public stoning.
Could a gruff Darryl Sutter honestly have made an entire room of media that hostile that they show up at a media gathering with their minds already made up on what they are going to hear? That’s not journalism, though I guess they still call it that south of the border for such subjects as politics and global warming. Find what you like and report, ignore anything dissenting.
My simple rule as a guy often asked for an opinion on hockey matters in this city is simple; what did I think before the results came in? And do I have a right to change those thoughts now?
When the Flames hit training camp this fall I liked the team on paper, heck you can download my thoughts on it right off the site. They had a goaltender that would shine under a better defensive system. They had a new coach that was able to combine offense with defense in Jersey, and was perfectly suited to bring Dion Phaneuf back from the dead. They had a whole year of Olli Jokinen, and a star in Jarome Iginla. They had supporting cast emerging in Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross, plus some added depth in David Moss, Dustin Boyd and Nigel Dawes. Their defense was the envy of the league.
Just throw the puck out and go get ’em.
It went wrong. But it went wrong with a roster and a head coach that I thought more than capable to win a division.
The two men at the podium yesterday probably thought the same, but they are not afforded the ability to just ignore their own beliefs and hind-site.
Don’t get me wrong, as a hockey fan I’m not happy either. But I’m sticking to what I liked and didn’t like based on my first impressions and not giving myself the opportunity to travel back in time with my dog Einstein in a Delorean and put a more negative view on a hockey club with the benefit of knowing where it skidded off the road.
So drop the witch hunt guys, the Flames ownership group should be just fine making decisions based on their own.
(late disclaimer: I did some archive searching and found several comments from Calgary media loving the hockey team on paper, believing Brent Sutter would be the answer, thinking scoring wouldn’t be a problem, and lauding the depth of the roster, but felt it best not to out individual writers. They know who they are)