Can't we all just get along?

Jean Lefebvre
June 18 2009 09:00AM

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Why can't we be friends?"]Why cant we be friends?[/caption]

Without completely being able to explain why, the expression “Shut up” has always seemed nearly as offensive to me as the other two-part exclamation that starts with a certain four-letter word and ends in “off.” And no, the first half of the equation is not “take” or “buzz.”

But man is it ever tempting to give the old S-U to those people who have suggested that an Ottawa newspaper reporter’s recent rant against Dany Heatley and the New York Islanders somehow swings the balance of power in the battle for smug superiority between the blogosphere and the mainstream media.

Hey, rail against the reporter in question all you want but please don’t drag all the other members of the profession into this. Forget this guilt by association business.

I may have missed a couple of meetings and I may have forgotten how to use my NHL beat writer’s secret decoder ring, but not once over the years do I ever remember nominating Don Brennan to represent my views or the views of all ink-stained wretches. Nor do I recall handing any proxy votes to Al Strachan, Bruce Garrioch, Jim Kelley, Adrian Dater or anyone else for that matter.

I’m exaggerating only a little when I say that Brennan’s smear piece being used as evidence of the genetic inferiority of so-called mainstream writers is about as ridiculous as saying the article provides conclusive proof that reporters of Irish ancestry are all incompetent, irrational boobs.

Any writer worth his salt, regardless of the medium, should want to be judged solely on his own merits and it seems immature and insecure for anyone to retreat into their little us-vs.-them world and mindlessly toss grenades at the other side when one of these blazes erupts. The fact the writing profession is populated by blowhards, rumour mongers and truth-distorting hacks says no more about an individual in that line of work than the fact hard-working, thoughtful, responsible and/or entertaining wordsmiths such as Kevin Dupont, Eric Duhatschek, Michael Farber, George Johnson and Pierre Lebrun have by-lines that grace various mainstream publications.

Same goes for the independent Internet hockey chroniclers. No individual blogger should get any credit for those individuals who are producing amazing and well-researched work, nor should they be automatically dismissed with prejudice because of the dubious postings of a certain blogger who shares a name with a Flyers forward from the 1980s.

All the people who follow my work closely — hi there, Mom; how’s tricks, Uncle Marcel? — will be tired of reading me write about this topic but the mud-slinging between the two sides continues to strike me as ridiculously silly.

After all, should there really be two sides here? Aren’t we all writing about the same sport? Shouldn’t we all be united by our passion or at least our interest in the sport? Does one group really need to push down the other in order to make themselves look good by comparison? And how many rhetorical questions are permitted in a single paragraph?

What’s really funny is that the so-called mainstream media (to be referred to as SCMSM from now on) and the blogosphere are getting closer and closer all the time. Every year the Professional Hockey Writers Association discusses the possibility of including independent bloggers for membership. Regardless of progress on that front, certain NHL clubs — most notably the New York Islanders — have issued credentials to unaffiliated bloggers.

Meanwhile, virtually every traditional media outlet on the planet now has a blog arm as part of its team coverage. Some of the blogging done by the SCMSM is pretty pedestrian but because newspaper space is shrinking rapidly in this dreadful economy, some writers have learned to use their cyberspace writings to supplement or even replace their traditionally published work.

Come to think of it, the animosity the SCMSM feels for the independent bloggers may stem partly from their own blogging experience. Many SCMSM members had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the blogging world. Why? Often it’s because the writers were being asked to produce on-line material without any reduction in their normal sports section-filling workload. That’s the reason some of the SCMSM work was so poor, especially in the early going. From my personal experience, I can tell you it is very difficult to be insightful or interesting or even relevant in a blog when you’ve already written 3,000 words (and on some days, traveled 1,000 miles) for the newspaper.

Too often, filing a blog entry was a chore and that’s simply not very conducive to quality work. That said, I must say I personally found the process much easier once I realized the medium’s potential. As a newspaper reporter, you’re always bound by certain just-the-facts-ma’am conventions of the industry. But in blogs, it was possible to approach the subject matter from a different perspective and speak to it in a different voice. It was easier to be irreverent, silly even. It took a while for the fog to lift but I know progress had been made when I received a kind note from a certain Flames blogger — initials MF — noting the fact that the blog entries no longer had the charm and potency of lukewarm dishwater (except he put it much more nicely than that).

Anyhoo, enough soapbox preaching and apologies for the diatribe. Now would be a good time to break into a chorus of Give Peace a Chance, but it probably would be easier to convince Gary Bettman and Jim Balsillie to share the Honeymooners’ Cabin on a trans-Atlantic cruise than to get bloggers and the SCMSM to get along. Ah well, let the battle rage on.

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Lefebvre is in that awkward stage of hockey following -- old enough to fondly remember the Cleveland Barons and too set in his ways to accept charity points and games where there's a winner but apparently no loser. As a long-time ink-stained wretch, he's also a firm believer in the old Bobby Knight quote about journalists: "All of us learn to write in second grade, but most of us go on to better things."
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#1 roger
June 18 2009, 09:15AM
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i didn't see your name in the voices of the nation, i wanted to read any other posts you my have written. i really enjoyed this one please keep contributing.

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#2 bingofuel
June 18 2009, 09:18AM
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@ roger:

Jean's one of the writers at FlamesNation, the OilersNation's sister site... AND MORTAL ENEMY.

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#3 Chris
June 18 2009, 09:19AM
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I'd like to say SHUT UP to the Sedin's agent. Apparently (as reported on team) some euro website claims the twins are looking for two identical 12 year contracts worth 63 million each. Those egotistical little sh!ts think they're worth a 10.5 cap hit into their forties? OUCH! I guess Vancouver will be in on the Heatly sweepstakes soon.

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#4 roughneck
June 18 2009, 09:29AM
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Personally I dont care what medium you choose to bring your work to light,,, do it more!

As far as being painted with the same brush....an anecdote.

I was in provost when they had a wee steak bbq c/w a cross burning and people in white sheets... cost the organizers 200 bucks to put on... the alberta government 7 million for the inquiry. Might have been 50 people there (48 for the steaks) but all people from Provost have KuKlux leanings............ apparently.

In closing.. I once had a professor whose arrogant line was.. common sense is the sense of the common people. At times his negative inference rings more true than others, your blog triggers a certain disposition to give his view some credence.

Maybe theres a prize for boxing with shadows that only a select few are aware of, for all the time it takes to pursue the phantom dick measurement there simply has to be.

No?

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#5 Librarian Mike
June 18 2009, 09:45AM
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I'd like to put forth a 'shut up' to Mr. Brian Burke for being a hypocrite, and to the reporters who recorded that interview for not calling him on it. It doesn't matter whether you're mainstream media or not; when someone throws a big fat fastball like that over the plate, you've gotta swing at it.

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#6 Austin Ayala
June 18 2009, 09:45AM
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Is there a rookie camp this year???

I want to see Brule to show everyone he's a #1 center

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#7 Austin Ayala
June 18 2009, 09:46AM
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Gregor v.s. speeds

fight fight fight FIGHT!!!

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#8 Robin Brownlee
June 18 2009, 09:52AM
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@ Austin Ayala: SHUT UP.

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#9 Chris
June 18 2009, 09:57AM
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@ roughneck:

This Provost/Clan thing is an unfair smear on a fine little community... besides I thought the "incident" ocurred on a FARM loacated closer to Cadogan rather than Provost. The fact that the media arbitrarily chose to associate Provost on the national stage with this isloated incident (despite damage to the community) nicely illustrates the power of media to do harm.

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#10 kingsblade
June 18 2009, 09:57AM
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@Jean I thought most of what I've read used the piece to point out that MSM writers are not automatically superior, not that all of them were inferior.

Chris wrote:

Those egotistical little sh!ts think they’re worth a 10.5 cap hit into their forties?

You don't think a properly front loaded contract with a cap hit of 5.25 each is reasonable? Thats only half a million more than the cap hit Horcoff and Penner. The term is quite long I admit, but that is what makes a reasonable cap hit possible. Of course I'd rather see that number below 5, but I don't think 5 and a quarter is too far off.

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#11 kingsblade
June 18 2009, 10:00AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

I’d like to put forth a ’shut up’ to Mr. Brian Burke for being a hypocrite, and to the reporters who recorded that interview for not calling him on it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re mainstream media or not; when someone throws a big fat fastball like that over the plate, you’ve gotta swing at it.

Hear Hear.

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#12 roughneck
June 18 2009, 10:14AM
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Brain Burke= Foghorn Leghorn

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#13 Chris
June 18 2009, 10:17AM
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@ kingsblade:

A 5.25 cap hit each? Fine. They will probably get that somwhere (Not exactly a hometown discount for Vancouver) It's the TWELVE year term (probably complete with a no movement clause) that I find ridiculous. I'm not a CBA expert. Since the twins are under 35; could a GM (say eight years from now) place either twin on waivers and bury them in the minors without cap penalties should their performance tail off? Maybe the deal wouldn't be so bad if the team has the ability to shed that 10.5 hit in the future. Does anyone understand how this works? I'm pretty sure you can front load a contract for a younger player; and said player could later retire when the salary shrinks; and the cap hit disappears as long as the contract was signed before the player was 35. I could also be wrong.

I guess I was laboring under the illusion that the twins may have to offer a bit of a discount to come as a set. When two players are so completely linked there is a loss of flexibility in managing your top six.

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#14 Chris
June 18 2009, 10:20AM
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@ Chris:

Cap issues aside. The Sedin family is looking for an owner to pony up $126 million. These guys are named Henrick and Daniel; not Mark and Wayne.

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#15 Sedins.
June 18 2009, 10:23AM
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We will leave your hockey club... and destroy your franchise.... unless you pay....

ONE HUNDRED MIIIILLLION DOLLARS...

*Best Dr Evil Impression complete with pinky in the mouth*

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#16 roughneck
June 18 2009, 10:37AM
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Pavel Bure. wrote:

I will leave your hockey club… and destroy your franchise…. unless you pay….
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#17 Sandra Blood
June 18 2009, 10:38AM
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Sedins. wrote:

We will leave your hockey club… and destroy your franchise…. unless you pay…. ONE HUNDRED MIIIILLLION DOLLARS… *Best Dr Evil Impression complete with pinky in the mouth*

Sedins are the Swedish version of Brian Burke.

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#18 Lefebvre
June 18 2009, 10:45AM
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kingsblade wrote:

@Jean I thought most of what I’ve read used the piece to point out that MSM writers are not automatically superior, not that all of them were inferior.

There’s been a lot written on blogs and messageboards on the subject, some of it is extreme as I alluded and more of it moderate, as you mentioned. I guess my main objection is that the issue is being argued too much on the wider mainstream-vs.-blogosphere platform and not enough on the this-particular-writer-is-an-idiot perspective.

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#19 Chris.
June 18 2009, 10:49AM
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Are the Sedins GOOD enough to win you a cup as 2/3rds of your FIRST line? If the answer is no... the GM who signs them has descided to improve his club, make the playoffs, and be a middling team instead of a contender for twelve long years.

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#20 Chaz
June 18 2009, 11:31AM
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bingofuel wrote:

Jean’s one of the writers at FlamesNation, the OilersNation’s sister site… AND MORTAL ENEMY.

This article was written by a Flames reporter?!? Did the Oil Nation editors have to translate it from finger paint? Shouldn't I be reading it with some banjo music in the background?

Haha. ~Aren't I hilarious?

Seriously though, great article! I hope to read more from you Jean. Just don't make me go to the Evil Nation to do so.

As far as the whole MSM vs Bloggers thing, quality speaks for itself, and weather I read stuff online or in a paper, it doesn't take long to identify the talented writers. I'll be looking for your byline in the future...

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#21 TonyT
June 18 2009, 11:34AM
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@ Austin Ayala: you're back...that's unfortunate.

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#22 The Towel Boy
June 18 2009, 11:41AM
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Chaz wrote:

..it doesn’t take long to identify the talented writers.

Thanks.

*quaffs hair, straightens glasses, removes house coat and bunny slippers, exudes talent*

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#23 Victoria
June 18 2009, 11:43AM
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Let it be known that cheering for the Flames is a greater offense then saying 'shut up'.

p.s. Sorry Jean, couldn't help it. It was a good write-up, though.

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#24 Smokin' Ray - NNC
June 18 2009, 11:59AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Austin Ayala: SHUT UP.

ROFL Classic!

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#25 NonMint
June 18 2009, 12:35PM
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Am I the only person who is suspicious of this post because it comes from Flames Nation? It almost feels like its a distraction for some secret plan they have-

HEY! Put Hemsky down! NO! Bad Blogger!

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#26 Librarian Mike
June 18 2009, 12:58PM
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@ NonMint: It's no big deal, as 'our' guys show up on their site as well. I'm happy to read Jean's stuff because it's refreshing to get a different perspective.

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#27 Jonathan Willis
June 18 2009, 01:04PM
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@ Librarian Mike:

Plus of course Jean knows what he's talking about. He's been a great addition to FlamesNation.

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#28 toprightcorner
June 18 2009, 01:23PM
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That Brennan guy from the Ottawa Sun is a tool. If a guy like that wrote for Edmonton or Calgary he would be laughed out of a job in less than a week.

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#29 Chaz
June 18 2009, 01:29PM
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One more thing Jean: How do you pronounce your last name? Is it the similar to Favre? And if so, how do you pronounce Favre?

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#30 patty
June 18 2009, 01:45PM
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@ toprightcorner: Don't be so sure. There is a certain somebody writing for the edmonton sun who is known to write low quality fluff pieces while mixing in his own biases. Brennan is a tool though.

Most blogs (and especially message boards) are crap because there is no filter. Anyone can write anything, but MSM stuff has to get by an editor. That said, the good blogs are excellent and give many paper articles a run for their money.

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#31 Librarian Mike
June 18 2009, 02:30PM
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Chaz wrote:

And if so, how do you pronounce Favre?

Farv...ur...re.

As for Jean's last name, I'm pretty sure it's pronounced 'Lefayve'.

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#32 Wanye Gretz
June 18 2009, 03:02PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

Chaz wrote: And if so, how do you pronounce Favre? Farv…ur…re. As for Jean’s last name, I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced ‘Lefayve’.

That is correct. Spelling it is also a trick.

Seriously though Jean is a ridiculous writer. We are super pumped to have him on board.

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#33 alphah.
June 18 2009, 06:10PM
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I couldn't care less? Also I have to point out one more time that I hate Wanye for what he has done here, linking the Oilers and Flames inexorably for the rest of time with his greedy cash hungry benevolence. You once said that you created this site for Oilers fans, because you were an Oiler fan, and we needed a place to converge. I felt a deep affinity with your whole concept. Then you package it up and start franchising it out to any other fanbase who will listen? Not so special anymore is it? Any time I have made comments like this you have ignored them as far as I could tell. Maybe its for the best as whatever weak refute you may be able to construct will likely just induce me into a state of vitriolic rage.

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#34 Chris
June 18 2009, 07:57PM
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@ alphah.:

I love the linked sites... Flamer & Cansuck fans are constantly reminded of their inferiority when they visit the cross-over blogs...

The Oilersnation has the numbers. The Oilersnation has the passion. The Oilersnation has the upper hand.

Dispute the power of the O.N. at your own peril you posers, bandwagon jumpers, and generally lackluster disciples of crummy tier two franchises! AHAAHAHHHAA!!

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#35 Lefebvre
June 18 2009, 08:51PM
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Chaz wrote:

One more thing Jean: How do you pronounce your last name?

If you really want to be technical about it, it's "Le-five" but much more commonly it's "La-fave." That said, in my experience, most people pronounce it "Hey-you-dip-stick"

Making it more complicated is that many Cajuns pronounce it "Le-fay" and that Jim Lefebvre, the old Dodgers ballplayer, pronounced it "La-fever."

No matter how you pronounce it, noboby can explain why there's a "B" in there.

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