The Howard Berger Two Step

Do you remember when I read the following to Brian Burke on the TSM Pressbox (it’s at approximately the 20 minute mark):

“There appears to be no limit to which Burke and Wilson will publicly fawn over Phaneuf; in fact, my bird-dogs tell me the open love-fest between Wilson and Phaneuf late in the season left others in the dressing room on the verge of nausea.”

Do you remember what Brian Burke asked me after I finished reading the above quote?

“Who wrote it”

Do you remember Burke’s response when I told Brian that the author was Howard Berger?

“Next question”

Now, Burke went on to explain, firstly saying that Howard is a nice enough guy and all but “the time he(Berger) spends coming up with rumours like this….Who are his bird dogs in the dressing room who talk to Howard? I think it’s a very short list.”

Now, if you’ve been the one to be reading Berger’s blog of late you will see that he has been very busy covering all the potential basis so that is “bird dogs” are all happy enough to keep talking to him. You’ve noticed he predictable shot at the choice that we’ve come to expect, the pitfalls etc.

Oddly enough however, take a look at what appeared in this mornings edition of the Berger:

“Upon seeing the reaction of a couple of players [one of whom is still with the team] to Phaneuf’s continuous, resounding endorsement of Wilson – both impishly jabbing with forefinger at their open mouths – I stupidly wrote that “…the love-fest between Phaneuf and Wilson, late in the season, left others in the dressing room on the verge of nausea”. This was a blunt over-statement; vehemently unfair to Burke, Wilson and Phaneuf. In fact, any chance Phaneuf has of succeeding as captain – in concert with the requisite personnel boost – hinges greatly on the symmetry between player and coach. If this one is as genuine as it appears, the Leafs will profit from the relationship.

Dion Phaneuf’s time has therefore arrived – be it amid debate or agreement.”

What????? You know, my mother in law tells my wife that it’s better to not have to say your sorry than to have to give the perfect apology.

Does “blunt over-statement” mean it was made up?

I mean what does what Berger wrote have to do with Phaneuf’s ability to succeed as a captain? Isn’t this simply an attempt, after realizing the damage he may have done to any relationship he has with the now captain, to get off on the right foot??? I am not suggesting Phaneuf read the quote. I am betting someone told him about it. I mean after all the bird dogs are the ones who leaked the info in the first place right? They are the ones who classified the fawning as nearly bringing them to nausea right?

I mean did the “bird dogs” say it or not?

If they did, why was it “stupid” to write?

Burke spoke of the media having a very healthy fear of retribution for carving a guy. Isn’t that exactly what’s going on here? Suddenly Phaneuf IS the captain and Berger has bashed him and now he is fearful that Dion won’t talk to him.

Why else recant?

Look, I have no problem with an apology. We all make mistakes, I make them every day. In this case I am just a little suspicious about the reasons for them.



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