June 12 2009 11:09AM
Bloggers take a lot of abuse from main-stream media types for their attachments to the teams they cover. I get it; a professional, objective tone is the way to discuss a sports team – at least, if a writer wants to be taken seriously – and many bloggers struggle to maintain that objectivity.
Unfortunately, the same things that would land a blogger in hot water or undermine his reputation are often ignored when they show up in newsprint under the byline of an actual journalist. One particularly egregious example of this is the work getting produced by Don Brennan with regard to Dany Heatley’s trade request. Brennan is of course most famous for this suggestion that he made during the Senators-Penguins playoff series last year:
Crosby's got a bad RIGHT ankle? How will it stand up to a two-hander? The Senators have to find out…. As much as they will be looking for timely goaltending and scoring, the Senators need somebody to emerge as a modern-day Bobby Clarke. Maybe hockey historian Jason Spezza can explain to his teammates what the former Flyers captain did to Russian star Valeri Kharlamov when the latter had a bad ankle in the 1972 Summit Series. It's playoff time. Anything goes.
When Georges Laraque called Brennan “stupid” for making that suggestion, Brennan challenged him to say it to his face, which Laraque proceeded to do.
In any case, with this as background, it is perhaps unsurprising that Brennan – a man who embodies the spirit of the worst sort of hockey fan – isn’t taking Heatley’s trade request very well. Let’s start with yesterday’s column.
After suggesting that Bryan Murray should trade Heatley to the New York Islanders, Brennan explains the chief reason for such a move:
First of all, the spoiled, selfish suck-hole would hate it there.
Folks like Robin Brownlee have repeatedly reminded me that columnists aren’t expected to maintain objectivity; they’re supposed to present an opinion. This though, goes beyond that. It’s an assault on character, a vicious attack on a guy who has committed the unforgivable sin of requesting a trade, and it’s eerily reminiscent of fanboard reaction here in Edmonton when Chris Pronger was traded.
Brennan goes on to the second reason, which is basically that Charles Wang is crazy and if he liked Alexei Yashin he’ll probably like Dany Heatley too.
Brennan then explains why this is such a troubling decision for Heatley to make:
He has now asked for a trade from the only two NHL teams he's ever been on. He likes Ottawa and his teammates so much, yet just four seasons after the Senators gave him a new lease on life, he is ripping it up.
Heatley’s only been in Ottawa four years, and he wants a change already! It’s bizarre, of course, since four years isn’t enough time to judge anything. After all, we give Prime Ministers… well, never mind, I guess Canadians have judged the PM twice in those four years. Well, it isn’t like political parties judge their leaders in such a short… okay, so the federal Liberals are on their third leader in that time span. Then again, those are trivial items; where do affairs of state stand in comparison to a player deciding if he likes his hockey team or not?
As for his “new lease on life”, there’s no disputing that the Dan Snyder tragedy must have been a life-changing experience for Heatley. Then again, this isn’t like when Boston picked up Tim Thomas and gave him an NHL opportunity after years of roaming Europe and the minors; Heatley was already an established star, pursued by multiple teams, and Ottawa made the best offer. Then again, perhaps Heatley should be more grateful; after the Senators took that incredible leap of faith, it isn’t like he recorded multiple 50-goal, 100-point seasons… never mind.
Brennan says that the reason for Heatley’s request is uncertain, but that suggestions have been made that he doesn’t like new coach Cory Clouston. After slamming Heatley for putting himself above the team, Brennan offered this gem:
Is that really it, Dany? If so, you truly are one messed-up dude. If not, you better step up and explain what's what. Or we're left to believe it is so.
Guilty until proven innocent – fair enough; after all, I believe that our justice system is founded on the very same principle. Still, Brennan offers Heatley a chance to prove himself; it’s so nice to know that his mind isn’t already made up:
Yes, what's most important to Dany Heatley is now obvious. It's Dany Heatley.
Never mind, then. Still, perhaps stating in no uncertain terms that Heatley’s a selfish suck-hole who puts himself above the team isn’t enough to get the job off assassinating his character done. What further attack could be launched?
Only the Islanders, Kings, Coyotes, Thrashers, Predators and Maple Leafs are able to take on Heatley's salary without dumping some of their own. Of that group, he might consent to the Kings and Predators, where media coverage is minimal. Just the way Heatley will want it. Forget the Leafs. Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons would make Heatley cry like a schoolgirl. Same reason it's hard to imagine the sensitive sniper agreeing to a swap that would put the jersey of the Canadiens, Flames, Oilers, Canucks, Rangers, Bruins, Wings, Flyers, 'Hawks or Sabres over his weak shoulders.
Very good. Lets leave aside the “cry like a schoolgirl” statement for the time being, and focus on Heatley’s supposed fear of the media. Let’s assume for a moment that Heatley made a horrible mistake; for the sake of argument we’ll assume he made a tremendous error in judgment that resulted in the death of one of his teammates. Let’s further assume that as a result of this error in judgment and the resulting emotion, he requested a trade. No doubt he’d pick a city where the media would leave him alone – anyone as clearly sensitive as Heatley wouldn’t want to go to a city where that mistake and his acquisition would be major news.
Except that’s what happened. Heatley went to Ottawa after his reckless driving directly resulted in the death of teammate Dan Snyder; Ottawa, Ontario, a city where media coverage was guaranteed, where hockey was easily the number one sport on the map. This leaves aside reports that Heatley’s willing to waive his NMC to come to Edmonton, where the spotlight is even more intense, because I don’t think we need further proof. Brennan’s statement is grossly inaccurate on its surface.
In any case, Brennan wasn’t satisfied with this attempt at destroying Heatley’s reputation; he wrote another column today. Some excerpts:
No, this erratic, career-defining call -- this labelling of himself as a two-team quitter -- appears to have been made by Heatley alone.
Like a child, Heatley seemingly doesn't understand the word commitment.
Meanwhile, the sound you do not hear is the barking. Dany the Dog has decided to keep his muzzle on for now.
Thank goodness that we have a professional print media. I’d hate to see what one of those loose-cannon bloggers would do if he had to write about Heatley’s departure.