On Hockey Writing: Does Old Blood Keep Coverage of the Game From Advancing?
June 20, 2009 9 Comments
Note: It’s Summer, and we feel the need to write something, anything that doesn’t involve Pierre McGuire. Consider this the first in a series of semi-serious essays about our thoughts on the hockey media. Hey, it’s Saturday, so might as well…
There’s the face of mainstream hockey-writing in America, and for that matter, North America. Sorry, Kevin Allen. Think about it. When at least the faces of writers who cover football and baseball (Chris Mortensen, Ken Rosenthal, Jay Glazer) look fairly youthful (Though that’s debatable with Mort) the men (and it’s 95% men if I or you ventured a guess) who cover this sport are mostly Larry Brooks-types. Look at the Hotstove segment of Hockey Night in Canada. It’s Al Strachan, Pierre LeBrun, and Scott Morrison if Mike Milbury decides he’s too bored to give Strachan wet willies all day. Morrison’s the youngest looking of the three, and he’s gotta be in his mid-40’s.
The question were roundaboutly getting to is: Are hockey writers too old for us to take any notice of what they say?
Now, we think we’re pretty upfront with the fact that we’re merely a 20-year old with a love of hockey that goes back to his father bringing him to a Devils game at the Meadowlands when he was 6 and Sportschannel and Mike Emrick and yada yada yada. But we like to think that our readers know that the voice behind the material is one of youthful, if for the most part mature, exuberance.
The idea we want you to have is that this a different voice you’re getting from hockey writers and even hockey bloggers. Hell, the only ones we know that are within a couple years of our age are Schultz and Wrap. If anyone else wants to correct us, comment on it. But we’ve been doing this for three years and have yet to encounter someone near how young we are, besides those two. The fact that there’s a disconnect between myself and say, Wyshynski (who is 31. He loves being reminded of it. Make sure you mention it to him sometime) is what makes us hope that we’re a little fresher and maybe less jaded with the sport than others. Maybe we’re completely wrong, but who knows.
Let’s get on to the original question. Do you find that reading guys like Brooks, Strachan, Don Brennan, Bruce Garrioch, Jim Kelley, Mike Brophy and countless other sportswriters affects how you feel about the game. Some of their screeds against the game are just so pointlessly negative. Take Brooks’ swipe at VERSUS from last week:
Television industry functionaries can attempt to spin it anyway they like, but the decision by Versus to delay the Game 3 postgame show by a half-hour in order to show an episode of “Sports Soup” was a slap across the face to every hockey fan who had been watching. Commitment to hockey, indeed.
Doesn’t that just sounds so… bitter and mean and unnecessary? Granted, this is coming from someone who openly was okay about the move, but we can understand where some of you were mad. But shouldn’t Larry Brooks sound a little classier than a comment on a blog run by a 20-year old kid?
The point is, these guys have been at it so long, it’s become uninteresting for them to delve into anything that isn’t endless what-ifs and trade rumors. Take a look, the rest of Brooks’ column speculated on Marian Gaborik-to the Rangers possibilities and making fun of the league’s TV deal with NBC. It all sounds so horribly stale from the man who’s writing about hockey in one of the nation’s (for better or worse) most-read newspapers.
What about Strachan? Not only is he a bitter crank, but he’s one who rips off… gasp! Bloggers! Take this column from October of 2008 on FOX Sports called “Five things Bettman needs to change”. Gee, that sounds real original. Or at least it would be if Wyshynski hadn’t run them for like, a month during the Summer last year. Plus, the people doing it were people who actually mattered. Like the occasional player, Deadspin founder Will Leitch, Steven Ovadia and Tom Benjamin, who manage to be critical of the league and still seem to have an unbridled love for the game. Imagine that!
On to Strachan’s actual column. Let’s start with the cheapshotting, lame opener:
In the process of selling his soul to get his salary cap — and we all know how much good that did — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had to cede some power to the NHL Players’ Association.
So there are now limits to what he can do to improve the game. That’s assuming, of course, that he knows what needs to be done, and that in itself is a dubious proposition. So in order to help out the commissioner and point him in the right direction, here are five things that need to be fixed in his league.
Dear Lord, Al! Way to make us interested in your column. Two solid paragraphs making us hate everything about the goddamn sport. We feel like there are grey hairs developing just reading that.
We don’t feel like we need to go on, but we could. Let’s not forget some writers who do come at the game from that perspective. George Richards and Tom Gulitti and Rich Hammond manage to show love for the game without showing any sign of age (We’ve seen Gulitti in person, so it’s not just a facade). But there’s just such a nattering nabob of neanderthalian negativity in our sport. How do we get it out, and what do we replace it with?
So let’s just pose the question to you: Does mainstream hockey writing need some fresh blood? Does it need to come from former bloggers? Or can it come from some combo of the two. We’d pay a lot of money to see James Mirtle or Wyshynski or Eric McErlain become more of a force in the MSM hockey world. The fact is, anyone who comes up now is going to be affected by blogging somehow. But we can’t let the Brookses and the LeBruns and especially the Strachans continue to take their opinions of the game to the masses and let them believe it represents the feelings of true hockey fans. Because there’s no way in Hell that it represents me.