The lowdown

Robin Brownlee
May 19 2009 06:22PM

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So, some Bozo blogger thinks Darren Dreger of TSN might be pulling NHL trade rumours out of his ass and making things up, eh?

Dreger's inquisitor on a website known as Kings Kool-Aid calls himself "qwisp," which may or may not be a version of his real name. That doesn't matter, even though the thought of somebody who might be tapping while using a fake name calling out Dreger rings just a tad goofy.

It's a witty bit of interpretive scrawl by qwisp, but it goes to show how little this person knows about the challenges facing MSM types like Dreger, who earn their living by gathering information, and the rules of the insider game as they pertain to protecting sources.

The point being pushed by qwisp is Dreger's item on Vincent Lecavalier and possible interest in him by the Los Angeles Kings is vague and written in a flimsy enough way it could be nothing more than the product of a fertile mind on a slow news day.

Vague and flimsy? Yes. Intentionally so. The product of a fertile mind? Not a chance. What, did Dreger issue an E-3 with this?

RULES OF THE GAME

Whether it's a ridiculously connected guy like Dreger or TSN running mate Bob McKenzie or those of us further down the information gathering food chain in the MSM, there are tried-and-true ways of protecting sources and keeping the information pipeline open.

Many of those tricks of the trade -- not attributing comments, using unnamed sources and even employing good old-fashioned mis-direction to protect somebody who has given you the drop on something -- fly in the face of what old-school types like me learned when getting into the business. But the business has changed. The demand for immediate information is greater than it's ever been. People want the goods now. If you're getting your dope from the morning paper, you're late. You either deliver or you don't. On top of that, people love rumours. They eat up speculation.

While that opens the door for any kook or clown with a blog template to float all kinds of unsubstantiated rumours, pass off gossip as fact and flat-out make things up, that's not the case with Dreger. Granted, it can sound that way -- "Well, where's the quote from the GM or the player in question?" -- but disguising the fact somebody spilled the beans is essential in making sure they keep talking to you down the road.

HOW IT WORKS

Dreger doesn't need me talking for him, so I won't, but here's some of the ways I've protected sources. Let's go on the premise GM X has told me he's interested in trading Player X because he wants too much money.

-- You can be vague, as Dreger was with the Lecavalier item: "The Edmonton Oilers will likely be listening to offers for Player X at the trade deadline and there could be six teams interested, including the Los Angeles Kings . . ."

-- You can say it yourself without attribution: "The Edmonton Oilers are looking to trade Player X at the trade deadline . . ."

-- You can use an unnamed source: "A source close to the Edmonton Oilers says the team is considering trading Player X because he wants too much money . . ."

-- You can ask the question: "Are the Edmonton Oilers contemplating trading Player X at the trade deadline because he wants too much money?" Or, "What's this I hear about Player X wanting $20 million over four years from the Oilers?"

No matter which of the four ways you frame it, you can follow up by saying, "When asked to confirm the possibility Player X might be traded, GM X declined comment," or "GM X laughed off suggestions Player X might be traded and said, "We're not shopping Player X."

Of course, shopping Player X means actively communicating with other GMs looking for offers, as opposed to being willing to trade Player X if his salary demands don't change. In that sense, GM X isn't lying.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The problem is, people with no contacts and no inside information can play loose with all of the above and toss as much stuff against the wall as they want in the hope some will stick.

Not because they're protecting sources, but because they don't have one real shred of information. You've read it. I've read it. There's 100 screens of the stuff out there on any given day. There's always some Bozo making stuff up. This qwisp is suggesting maybe Dreger fits in that long-shoed group. I think not. I know not.

For information junkies trying to separate intentional mis-direction or vagueness employed by a reporter to protect a source from bogus rumours with no factual basis, it's difficult to know what to put much stock in.

In the end, it comes down to credibility. Who wrote it or said it? What's their record on getting it first and getting it right? How connected are they? Who do they answer to if what they write or say is absolute fantasy?

Whether it's a MSM guy like Dreger or some Bozo blogger, the same questions should apply.

--Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Dennis
May 20 2009, 11:40AM
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I guess it comes to a point where you really can't lose if you're a paid newspaper or MSM writer.

There are guys you can't criticize because they won't talk to you afterwards and that makes everything OK. On the other hand, a blogger had best not cast a stinky eye at a mainstream fellow because it's his opinion that a rumour's bull.

I'm not saying that Dreger's a lair - and I'd honestly believe anything that included the Bolts - but when you've got guys from the NY Times concocting stories, I don't think it's mind-blowing that someone thinks a sports writer or commentator would do the same just to promote some discussion.

The war never ends.

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#52 topshelf
May 20 2009, 11:40AM
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Arch - 1 James - 0

Round 2....

Fight!

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#53 Ducey
May 20 2009, 11:51AM
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Whoa, okay. Too much discussion about jounalists, bloggers etc. It is the hockey players were are interested in, not those that report on them.

A better topic is the mess happening in Phoenix. By the look of things they will not have the fight over who owns the team resolved until late June. You can bet its going to impact on their draft and who knows maybe they don't play this year...

Lets say the court finds that the team is owned by Moyes but that it can't be moved without NHL approval or without breaching the lease. The result would be that the court would be controlling the team (as its in bankruptcy) and Mr RIM would withdraw his offer. The team would then be auctioned off to a bidder acceptable to the creditors and the court - a proccess which could take awhile given that the team is going to have to stay in Phoenix and is now a guaranteed money loser for ever. In the process the Wayner loses his $8 million a year job, the GM has no idea what his budget is, they sell maybe 2 season tickets and free agent players stay away like the Jobbing arena contains the swine flu.

By the time RIM JIM is done unwrapping himself from the Canadian flag, he still won't have a team in Hamilton and he will have set the Coyotes franchise back years.

Good news? The Oilers should be able to beat someone next year.

Discuss.

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#54 Mikey
May 20 2009, 11:55AM
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@ Ducey: We should offer them some cash in return for Turris... seriously though what a sad situation.

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#55 Mikey
May 20 2009, 11:59AM
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I dont understand why Bettman had to have his hand forced like this before stepping in and doing something about that team. Even Ray Charles could see that the Yotes were losing money faster than the spreading of the swine flu. So for him to state publicly over and over again that the situation was going to work itself out and Phoenix would be fine is embarassing for the league I think.

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#56 BigE57
May 20 2009, 12:08PM
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@ Mikey: I think it's pretty simple Grandmaster B is extremely loyal to his buddies to the detriment of the rest of the league.

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#57 Robin Brownlee
May 20 2009, 12:20PM
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@ Mikey: Stability and status quo is what Bettman marches to at almost any cost, even if it's obvious Phoenix is Death Vally and a money pit. To be fair, it's that same philosophy that had Bettman stand so firmly behind keeping the Oilers in Edmonton when Peter Pocklington's house of cards collapsed.

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#58 Ducey
May 20 2009, 12:27PM
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Well its easy to go after Bettman, but what has he done wrong? The NHL is a business dependent upon selling tickets. They have tried to keep Phoenix's problems private and organize a sale to a group who would keep the team in Phoenix. Public disclosures just erode all confidence around the team resulting in a lower sale value, an impact on the ice and greater losses.

You may feel Phoenix is a lost cause but so were Pittsburg and Edmonton at one time.

I wonder if someone will take run at RFA's Scottie Upshall or Kieth Yandall? You can bet their agents will be shopping around for a deal to get them out of there and Phoenix may not be in a position to match - no matter what the offer.

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#59 Mikey
May 20 2009, 12:27PM
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@ Robin Brownlee: But were the Oilers bleeding away money from other franchises the way Phoenix is doing now?

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#60 Harlie
May 20 2009, 12:29PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ james: Really? You think the guy working in Saskatoon is making 100 grand a year reporting the Sports despite the fact that many of the companies that own these stations are on the verge of bankruptcy? Good luck with that dream.

I saw Shaye Ganam or whatever his name is from Global Morning News driving a beat-up 1987 Hyundai a few months ago down at Whyte Ave. He's one morning guy at a large station either saving his 6 figure money or in actuality not making 6 figures at all.

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#61 Mikey
May 20 2009, 12:33PM
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Ducey wrote:

Public disclosures just erode all confidence around the team

It does the same but to the NHL when Bettman takes the mic and states over and over again that Phoenix is going to be fine. How does that make the NHL, as an organization, look? Like we, as fans, are stupid to believe that a franchise that is pissing away millions every year is not going to be fine? I don't buy it.

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#62 Harlie
May 20 2009, 12:38PM
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Ducey wrote:

The NHL is a business dependent upon selling tickets.

The CFL is more gate run than the NHL is. I'd argue that the NHL is more dependent on TV revenue and corporate naming rights etc over selling tickets.

Ducey wrote:

You may feel Phoenix is a lost cause but so were Pittsburg and Edmonton at one time.

The big difference between Pitts & Ed compared to Pho is that they both had Cup success which entrenched the Team's history and importance in their communities. The same can't be said for Pho.

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#63 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 12:54PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Mikey: Stability and status quo is what Bettman marches to at almost any cost, even if it’s obvious Phoenix is Death Vally and a money pit. To be fair, it’s that same philosophy that had Bettman stand so firmly behind keeping the Oilers in Edmonton when Peter Pocklington’s house of cards collapsed.

He's also working for the various ownership groups around the league, so correct me if I'm wrong but would that not indicate that at least a majority of owners were wanting to take this route?

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#64 Jason Gregor
May 20 2009, 01:14PM
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Harlie wrote:

I saw Shaye Ganam or whatever his name is from Global Morning News driving a beat-up 1987 Hyundai a few months ago down at Whyte Ave. He’s one morning guy at a large station either saving his 6 figure money or in actuality not making 6 figures at all.

That has to be the most asinine comment I have ever read. So the guy drives a beat Hyundai, I guess he has no money. Maybe he doesn't need an Escalade or a top end SUV to be satisfied.

Who gives a crap what guys make really.

You along with the others who speculate on what guys make should all go grab a ruler and then add a few inches to make yourself feel better.

Why does it matter what a guy makes.

I worked in the oilfield for six years and made good money, but I never liked my job, so I went back to school.

Now I make good money and love my job. Life is better when you like what you do regardless of how much money you make. And for the record when I worked in the patch and made good money, I drove a Sunfire. I guess I was broke too.

Talk sports on here...if you want to critique Dreger, myself or anyone else, feel free, but the money focus is stupid and really pointless.

Guys who worry about money are probably the same guys who round up on the ruler and add mysterious notches on their bed posts.

Payscale will vary regardless if you are a rig guy, lawyer, sports reporter or waiter. Is the one who makes the most necessarily the best? Doubtful.

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#65 Chris
May 20 2009, 01:16PM
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Okay...So what if Dreger is dead on? If LeCavalier goes to L.A and the principal return is Johnson: what does that mean for the Oil? Could Kopitar be had for Gilbert and change? Would Lombardi be able to keep Brown, Frolov, Kopitar, and LeCavalier under the cap while simultaneously addressing the need to replace Johnson and find a puck moving D-man?

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#66 Robin Brownlee
May 20 2009, 01:29PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Maybe he doesn’t need an Escalade or a top end SUV to be satisfied.

Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .

Gregor's right, though. What a guy makes doesn't have a lot to do with credibility, and I wouldn't go judging based on what somebody drives. Some people like to have a nice ride. Others would rather spend money on vacations or sock it away, whatever.

What I make now has changed substantially from what I made during 23 years in the daily newspaper business. I'd like to think I'm no less credible and that I didn't forget how to write just because I'm no longer front and centre as "the beat guy."

Credibility, whether you're working for a big national outlet or a near-anonymous blog is built over time by getting the story straight and resisting the urge to take shortcuts and pass off bogus stuff as fact.

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#67 Matt
May 20 2009, 01:35PM
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@#64: I'm no Communications pro, but I would suggest that either you can make a plea for maturity, or make (two!) dick-measuring references, but not both.

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#68 Ender the Dragon
May 20 2009, 01:50PM
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. . . And the line judge awards a point to Matt.

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#69 TV
May 20 2009, 02:02PM
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Chris wrote:

Okay…So what if Dreger is dead on? If LeCavalier goes to L.A and the principal return is Johnson: what does that mean for the Oil? Could Kopitar be had for Gilbert and change? Would Lombardi be able to keep Brown, Frolov, Kopitar, and LeCavalier under the cap while simultaneously addressing the need to replace Johnson and find a puck moving D-man?

While taking nothing away from J.J., I've got to ask...

Why would the Kings need to "replace" J.J. & find another puck mover on the back end..? The Kings are not exactly lacking in that department on their blueline with players like Doughty, Quincey & Harrold in their current line-up & young disc movers like Hickey & Voinov in the stable.

Johnson is a great D'man, but D.D. has made J.J. expendable & an great asset for Lombo to shop around the league.

The Kings are bringing in a Top End/High Paid forward this summer & if anyone can afford it, it's them.

x6

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#70 The Towel Boy
May 20 2009, 02:18PM
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I forget what this post even about now.

Oh..yeah... I drive a Lada.

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#71 Robin Brownlee
May 20 2009, 02:26PM
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@ The Towel Boy:

It's about clowns, making things up, guessing about how much Gregor earns, measuring ones Johnson and who drives the coolest short.

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#72 Archaeologuy
May 20 2009, 02:27PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

I forget what this post even about now. Oh..yeah… I drive a Lada.

Yaris. Known affectionately in my house as Uncle Yaris.

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#73 Travis Dakin
May 20 2009, 02:37PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

@ alan: Come on, there has got to be some charm to working long, strenuous hours, and living in a garbage hole like Fort MacMurray? Wait… Umm… Go OIL BARONS! or Burger Baron. Mmmm

HELL YEAH!!!

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#74 Chris
May 20 2009, 02:41PM
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TV wrote:

The Kings are bringing in a Top End/High Paid forward this summer & if anyone can afford it, it’s them.

So you figure the Kings could afford LeCavalier at 7.whatever million a season over the next several years? (I'm not saying I disagree) I know Lombardi has some free cap space right now... I also know that he has a good young roster. If Lombardi could pull off a deal to land LeCavalier without giving up a key top six forward: I'd say that is pretty bad news for a lot of the western "bubble teams", the Oilers among them.

I was just bozo blogging/fishing for unsubstantiated speculation as to who in thier top six L.A. may shop should they land LeCavalier... After all, it's a slow news day. I'll put you down as a vote for nobody.

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#75 TV
May 20 2009, 03:49PM
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Chris wrote:

So you figure the Kings could afford LeCavalier at 7.whatever million a season over the next several years? (I’m not saying I disagree) I know Lombardi has some free cap space right now… I also know that he has a good young roster. If Lombardi could pull off a deal to land LeCavalier without giving up a key top six forward: I’d say that is pretty bad news for a lot of the western “bubble teams”, the Oilers among them. I was just bozo blogging/fishing for unsubstantiated speculation as to who in thier top six L.A. may shop should they land LeCavalier… After all, it’s a slow news day. I’ll put you down as a vote for nobody.

Well maybe you should go back & peruse my entire reply to you then Chris.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned J.J. enough times to get my point across..?

So, at the end of the day, I was simply stating that the Kings can afford to move a player like him because of their depth of offensive puck movers in their system. (which you did not think they had & would need to replace)

Please Sir, don't be firing blanks at the messenger...

x6

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#76 kingsblade
May 20 2009, 04:04PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Who gives a crap what guys make really? Why does it matter what a guy makes? Payscale will vary regardless if you are a rig guy, lawyer, sports reporter or waiter. Is the one who makes the most necessarily the best? Doubtful.

I don't think it's completely irrelevant. If a guy (like Dreger) has a good job which pays well he has more to lose than the next guy. He might be more selective with the information he chooses to publish.

The guy who doesn't have his primo job and wants to climb the ladder would likely be more willing to go with the weaker information because the risk/reward factor looks much better for him.

In the end though the difference is probably relatively minimal. I believe most sports media are there because they love doing it, not to try and earn the big money. The best way to do a good job is to develop a good reputation.

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#77 The Menace
May 20 2009, 04:37PM
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@ kingsblade: What about guys like Manny Ramirez? He already had the big contract - why would he continue to use? To flip your example around, the guys with the biggest contracts/best positions also have the most to lose if they can't keep delivering the "home runs" regularly. Not that I think that's what's going on here. Oh, and I thought I was supposed to round up on the ruler - I'll have to downgrade my Twitter profile now. There's going to be some sad tweet-mamas out there! ;)

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#78 Chris
May 20 2009, 04:45PM
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TV wrote:

Please Sir, don’t be firing blanks at the messenger…

I wasn't disagreeing with you. It was an assumption on my part that LA may wish to replace "JJ" by moving a top six forward made redundant by Lecavalier. You clearly disagree with that assumption. It seems your position is that JJ is "expendable" and Lombardi can afford to add LeCavalier to his top six without being forced to move anyone else in a seperate deal.

I don't know enough about the Kings prospects to necessarily disagree.

Like I said: It's a slow news day, and I am curious about your, or anybody else's take on the potential ripple effect a LeCavlier move would have on the Oilers.

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#79 TV
May 20 2009, 05:20PM
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No worries, I never said you were. Like I said above, I was just trying to be a bit of a conduit for you regarding your question.

The Kings would definitely have to give up a young forward along with 1 of their Top rated D'man to make such a deal, but don't be surprised it it's someone more in the Oscar Moller vain than a Dustin Brown or Frolov.

Either or, I think it's bad news for the Oilers because the Kings will be going with & adding players via the UFA train 1st, & the caboose just might have Gabby in it when it pulls into LaLa Land.

(Hence the Kings get better & don't give up good, young & cheap assets to do it)

They are just 1 more team that the Oil will have to deal with come Top 8 time in April.

(Zombie-Man & Gabby on a line together is scary, really scary..!)

x6

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#80 Oilersordeath
May 20 2009, 05:22PM
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@ Chris:

Honeslty I dont think the Kings would need to replace Johnson being how deep they are on D. I'm sure the kings would have to throw in a 1st rounder or a top 6 forward as well.

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#81 Harlie
May 20 2009, 06:33PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

easy buddy! Brownlee stated in his story about Dreger pullin in some nice coin. So he brought up which should be food for discussion. If you want me and others to not discuss money then ask your writers to do the same.

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#82 BigE57
May 20 2009, 07:25PM
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Harlie wrote:

Brownlee stated in his story about Dreger pullin in some nice coin.

If you could, please point out the point in the story where Brownlee states that Dreger pulls in nice coin. I must be missing it, perhaps you can find the quote while I go get my eyes checked.

I'll probably find out I've been reading my ruler wrong too.

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#83 Chris
May 20 2009, 07:58PM
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@ Oilersordeath:

In a pure "hockey" deal Vinny probably would cost a first round pick, and a top six forward, and a promising young blueliner... but in the "cap era", with that huge contract, do you think that's still the case?

Many people on this site wouldn't trade Hemsky straight up for LeCavalier...(I would; but that's beside the point)

How much does a prohibitive contract devalue an asset? Also, there are optics to consider. I imaginine Tampa will have even more trouble selling season tickets if management moves LeCavalier for JJ and a pick... On the other hand, if Tampa ownership can't afford to spend to the cap over the next ten years; they should probably move LeCavalier before that no-trade clause kicks in... In the media world the reportability of a rumor depends on the quality of the source... In BOZO land the believability of that report depends largely on how much sense it makes. If L.A. is as deep on the blueline as you say, and with Tampa ownership (according to the Tampa Tribune) in a cash crunch and severely deliquent in county realty taxes... this rumor is sure making a lot of sense.

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#84 Ogden Brother
May 20 2009, 08:09PM
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I think alot of people are over valuing JJ, thus far he's been a minor disapointment and has shown some character issues. If he's going as part of the Vinny trade, he would only be a (smaller) piece.

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#85 roughneck
May 20 2009, 09:20PM
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Thanks for writing The Jim Rome Show.

Here's a message from our sponsor, 5 Hour Energy

Why do energy drinks make you crash? It’s all the sugar and caffeine. 5-Hour Energy has zero sugar and just enough caffeine for hours of energy with no crash later.

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Credibility meets __________________?

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#86 Harlie
May 20 2009, 10:15PM
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@ BigE57:

better get your glasses checked.

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#87 kingsblade
May 20 2009, 10:41PM
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@ The Menace: Way to respond to a generalization, with a specific example of one guy who doesn't fit.

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#88 BigE57
May 21 2009, 12:11AM
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@ Harlie:

Checked my glasses, read the article yet again still not seeing where Brownlee says that Dreger is pulling in some good coin and since you couldn't produce a specific quote......

Mr. Brownlee did however state: "In the end, it comes down to credibility. Who wrote it or said it? What’s their record on getting it first and getting it right? How connected are they? Who do they answer to if what they write or say is absolute fantasy?"

Now stop stalking Shaye Ganum..

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#89 Archaeologuy
May 21 2009, 01:24AM
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@ BigE57: He mentioned something vague in a response to someone else's comment early on. From there the conversation started about how much the media guys make a year. I personally dont think the debate that ensued was about d*nk measuring, but whatever. I think some people got a little sensitive about who gets paid what, but I agree with Jason that life is better when you like what you do. The conversation could have happened on the bus or at the water cooler but it happened on this site. Big deal. It's a sports site and the topic was sports related. Personally I think most of us wish that we could do what Jason and Robin do for work, and it doesnt matter what they get paid because it's so kool we'd do it for free (until rent is due then we sell the dirt we learned to the tabloids)

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#90 BigE57
May 21 2009, 07:49AM
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@ Archaeologuy: Or sleep in the broom clost at the station. I'd take the press pass in a heartbeat.

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#91 The Menace
May 21 2009, 09:35AM
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kingsblade wrote:

@ The Menace: Way to respond to a generalization, with a specific example of one guy who doesn’t fit.

That wasn't meant as a refutation - I wasn't trying to say that your generalization *never* happens. It's just a counter-example to think about it from a different perspective. :)

What the Rameriz example (and Clemens, and McGuire, and A-Rod, and a laundry list of other atheletes!) suggests is that the guys with the biggest *signed* contracts might have bigger motives for cheating compared with guys that may have *potential* to sign contracts.

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#92 yo
May 22 2009, 03:42AM
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RB - Would it be fair to ask if you read John Short's comments in the Sun regarding the former Oilers currently playing for the 'Canes'? Any comments regarding the reason for their new-found joy? Short suggests Oiler veteran leadership share blame with coaching and management for the discontent with the Oil on the part of these players. This is the kind of stuff that makes Edmontonians cringe to think our city is undesireable by the hockey world. Even though people such as Gregor pooh pooh it...it makes one wonder.

Ex-Oilers happier in Carolina

By JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

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#93 Robin Brownlee
May 22 2009, 07:39AM
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@ yo: Not sure about the timing of this item. It sounded to me like Short just regurgitated old talk about discontent in the dressing room. And there was discontent -- there always is when a team struggles or under-achieves. There has also been a dynamic of having a large group of young players and a second group of veterans. For me, that doesn't translate to a rift or a divided dressing room. I think that was overstated and took on a life of its own outside the room (with fans).

I've known Short a long time and have a level of respect for his time on the job, but to be honest with you I can say without any doubt that I don't recall seeing him in the dressing room even once last season, so I don't know where he's getting his information.

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