The lowdown

kool_aid_man_glass

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.

  • lj

    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.

  • lj

    @ 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! 😉

  • lj

    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.

  • lj

    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

  • lj

    @ 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.

  • lj

    @ 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.

  • lj

    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.

  • lj

    @ 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.

  • lj

    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.

  • lj

    Thanks for writing The Jim Rome Show.

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  • lj

    @ 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..

  • lj

    @ 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)

  • lj

    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.

  • lj

    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

  • lj

    @ 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.