Atlanta Thrashers Move To Winnipeg, Not The Finest Hour

Stephen Brunt broke the news last night that the deal that would send the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg is complete.

To borrow a famous line, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

No matter what you think of their work in print, on air or elsewhere there is no arguing that there are a select number of MSMers in Toronto that have the gold standard reputation. That is, when they write or say something you take it to be truth. In my opinion, Stephen Brunt, Steve Simmons, Bob Mckenzie and Damien Cox. Each has been around long enough to have earned a reputation as tellers of truth when it comes to factual reporting. If any of those guys writes a story about an event that has happened or will about to happen, we accept it as fact. You don’t see numbers next to their stories. They don’t go with a story absent iron clad sources. Simply put, they don’t subscribe to the theory that if you throw enough material at the wall some of it may stick.

That’s not to say there aren’t other trustworthy MSMers out there. That’s not to say that these guys are always right, or that I agree with their opinions. It’s just that when they are the ones breaking the story you just know it’s true. (Don’t start on the Pat Burns issue with Cox either….)

So when Stephen Brunt writes that the deal that would see the Atlanta Thrashers sold to a group from Winnipeg is done and that an announcement is planned for Tuesday, I just take it to be the truth. Personally, I don’t need any secondary confirmation. Whenever I browse to a website and see a headline of a story that interests me the first thing I do is check the author. There are certain writers you trust and then there are others. Brunt is in the trustworthy group.

Unfortunately, the rush to get the story first has become so fierce that the market response is both predictable and yet sad. Other media outlets were pretty quick to pounce and denounce the Brunt story. I am sure you all recall the infamous Nick Kypreos tweet about “those f’ers from TSN“.

Nowhere was this more prevalent than on Twitter. Tons of MSMers saying that there sources were saying “no deal has been reached”. Others opined that it was a risky story for Brunt and Globe and Mail, he looks like a genius if it comes to fruition and if it doesn’t…. It was so fast, so furious that I forgot there was actually a playoff game going on. TSN must have shown Bettman’s mug at the game 5 times (kind of ironic given the fact that the network took the stance that the story wasn’t accurate).

The response later in the night from Mckenzie and Dreger was more correct. Each of them basically saying that all they can go on is the information their sources are providing them; that is that as of this time there is no deal in place. Think about it though. What else are the supposed to say? Do you want them to say it’s true when their sources, whom they trust aren’t telling them that? I don’t want Mckenzie saying the Brunt story is true if the people Bob trusts say it isn’t. Perhaps in an ideal world they could have tipped their hat to Brunt. Maybe they could have said, our sources aren’t telling us that, but given the reputation of the reporter who wrote the story…. How realistic is that though?

Simmons, ironically put it best on Twitter. He basically asked what one is to believe when the pillars of trust are in conflict, here Brunt and Mckenzie/Dreger. In the end the TSN guys weren’t necessarily disagreeing with Brunt, rather simply saying that there sources were telling them otherwise.

The Globe to it’s credit ran articles stating all the denials from all the parties involved. However, as Mccown said when he was bashed for breaking the bond story, “just because they deny something, doesn’t make it true”. We have learned from past experience that Bettman Inc. subscribes to the J.P. Ricciardi truth policy. Ask yourself this, if Brunt is correct and the deal is going to be announced Tuesday what exactly are the parties going to say? If it’s not going to be offical until Tuesday no one is going to go on record and admit it now. Bettman isn’t going to look into a camera and say, you got me! It’s not going to happen.

I love all the comments that Brunt writes for the Globe and Mail which happens to be owned by the same guys who are going to end up owning the franchise should it end up in Winnipeg ergo Brunt must be right. In other words, Brunt has inside sources. The flip side to that could be that the TSN is a big partner of the NHL and well, they couldn’t break a story to upset that partnership.

The interesting part of Brunt’s story is that the NHL conditionally approved the relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg long ago. If a sale could be negotiated between the Thrashers ownership group and the Winnipeg interests then the league would bless the deal. There have been rumblings about this for some time, but no clear external indicators. From all accounts, the sale of the Thrashers to anyone in Atlanta wasn’t possible. I was told that no one with any business sense would consider such a transaction. There have been rumors around for weeks that the current management team of the Thrashers including GM Rick Dudley won’t be making the trip north. Numerous parties have told me that the NHL was prepared to pull the plug on the Coyotes but wanted to give the city one last shot at keeping them by renewing the $25m payout. I am told that few if anyone ever expected Glendale to actually agree to a renewal. Late last week, Greg Brady tweeted that an unnamed Atlanta Thrasher player told him that he had been advised to prepare for a move. Brady was instantly lambasted on twitter for spreading untruths. ( quick note- Brady and Lang are interviewing Bryan Little of the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow am. I contacted Brady to see if Little was the player that told him of the pending move and Brady insisted that it wasn’t.) Doesn’t seem to be so far fetched today now does it? All of that percolating in the background then, all making so much sense now.

As you know I love Twitter. I love the instant news element of Al Gore’s internet. I just wish that the constant battle to be first took a back seat to being accurate. I wish that others weren’t so quick to bash others when they don’t break the story. Perhaps I wish for the ideal too often.

We shall where this is headed in the next couple of days. I’m putting my money on Brunt being right on the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg.

TSM

@yyzsportsmedia

BTW- many of you asked about an interview on the Fan morning show on Wednesday with Dan Murphy. The subject was supposed to be the Canucks game the night before vs. the San Jose Sharks. However, Murphy was talking about a game between the Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks. Was Murphy drunk? Stuck in a time warp? No, it seems that those segments with west coast reporters which air early on the east coast are taped. That’s usually not a problem when the right interview is played 🙂

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PBI
PBI
May 20, 2011 1:35 am

It only broke a few hours ago but the way this story is being covered might be more interesting than the actual story itself with one reliable reporter/journalist breaking it in Brunt and another reliable reporter backing him up in Kypreos.

On the other hand, TSN is acting like nothing has happened and seem to be relying on technicalities (just because the agreement for the sale hasn’t been confirmed by the league or either party) because they’ve been seemingly beaten to a gigantic story by Sportsnet.

Daniel
Daniel
May 20, 2011 2:18 am

Yeah, unless Brunt turns out to be totally wrong here, I do find TSN’s reaction to be a little offputting. If Brunt is right, but for crossed T’s and dotted I’s, then their super quick denials will seem sort of petty.

I don’t mind Bryan Hayes, but his tweets were a bit weird tonight. He wrote “This is a gamble for the Globe. Could look like studs, could look like stiffs. Hearing a number of sources claiming the report isn’t true.” and also, just after Brunt broke the story, he wrote: “Wow, @tsnjamesduthie, @TSNBobMckenzie & @DarrenDreger just crushed that update on the Peg/ATL situation. Very impressive.”

He did mention several times that he greatly respected Brunt, but it just felt like he was pulling for his ‘team’ (TSN) more than anything else. I’m not really a fan of that.

The best reaction was from Steve Simmons, he wrotet: “Stephen Brunt doesn’t guess, doesn’t speculate. Deals always need to be finalized before signed. It’s semantics now. Winnipeg is in.” and later: “The ultimate dilemma for people who knoq media: Three of most trusted voices in the country,Brunt, McKenzie and Dreger are in disagreement”. He genuinely came across as someone who didn’t give a damn what media conglomerate reported this story first (even though he works for TSN sometimes), but just that he was interested in the story itself.

So – kudos to Simmons.

Daniel
Daniel
May 20, 2011 2:42 am

Actually, to be fair, McKenzie’s comments were good too:

“I don’t doubt ATL to WPG has an excellent chance of happening but I can only report what I believe to be the case. As of this moment my best information is deal is not yet done. If someone else has better or more accurate information, than me, so be it. BTW, I am not shooting down anyone’s story. I am reacting to news and reporting what I can find out. Simple as that.”

Daniel
Daniel
May 20, 2011 2:56 am

A little off topic – but speaking of media jumping all over other outlets for bad scoops..

I remember a few months ago when McCown said that Crosby’s family suggested he retire, Bill Watters almost threw a fit on 640. Basically said McCown has no credibility.

He may have been right, but I did think of his rant yesterday when his story broke about a 2nd TO NHL team arena possibly being built in Markham (which the MSM seems to have dismissed).

Lesson: best to be classy when you have different info than the competition. Never know when you might be the one with the bad scoop!

Daniel
Daniel
May 20, 2011 3:11 am

Sorry – last comment. These tweets from Elliote Friedman:

“One thing I’ve always wondered: why do some media members gleefully crush others’ reporting? Hey, if you’re wrong, you’re wrong and you…”
“deserve criticism. But anyone who’s reported something knows how tough it is to wait for it to happen. Takes time. We’ll see on this one.”
“Alright. Last comment about this: I’m in San Jose and I can’t see TSN. We are competitive, but not disrespectful.”

mario
mario
May 20, 2011 5:03 am

I think this deal will go through… this is such a competitve business but why dose TSN continually shoot down stories it dose not seem to break… I respect McKenzies and Dreger as reporters but they always do this…that why I dont care for TSN makes then look childless..way to go Brunt /Fan….

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
May 20, 2011 6:53 am

I wonder if quietly McKenzie/Dreger are really pissed at their league sources. TSN has become the “unofficial” voice of the NHL. THey have been foot soldiers for the league in many ways. Now when the big story is breaking they don’t get first dibs (or at least quiet confirmation) of this story.
Kind of funny this doesn’t make me like Sportsnet more or dislike TSN more, but things have become very tense between the two on breaking stories.

I don’t notice this happening in the states as much between espn/cnnsi/cbssports etc… They seem to be much more interested in covering the story itself as opposed to breaking it.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
May 20, 2011 7:25 am

Bettman Inc. subscribes to the J.P. Ricciardi truth policy.

nice line TSM

As the competition between networks intensifies i fear we’ll see more of this attempt to “brand” the news. this is a holdover from a bygone era where the paper you bought said something about who you are as a person.

the reality is that most of the audience gets its news from multiple sources, and any big stories are widely reported by all outlets within hours or minutes of each other. the masthead just doesn’t matter that much to the reader/listener/viewer anymore.

Lee (Oakville)
Lee (Oakville)
May 20, 2011 8:04 am

In my opinion, the veracity of the Brunt story will only be realized on Tuesday if and when the official announcement is made. The story revolves around the definition of “done deal”. If the announcement is not made on Tuesday there are obviously holes in Brunt’s reporting as he specifically mentioned the date. If it happens on Tuesday, it is a sterling scoop.

A couple of other points: We all have very short memories…remember the Kypreos “scoop” that the Coyotes-to-Winnipeg deal was done and would be announced as soon as the playoffs ended? How did that story turn out?

Lastly, to include Damien Cox in your 100% guaranteed to be true, verified because he wrote it is somewhat absurd. Cox rarely breaks stories (and who, apart from McKenzie, Dreger and occasioally Brunt actually do?) and to actively encourage ignoring the Pat Burns fiasco (which speaks volumes of his journalistic due diligence) is silly at best and willfully ignorant at worst.

Cam
Cam
May 20, 2011 8:19 am

s far too interested in the reaction to his opinions then their veracity. I always wait for corroboration on his stuff.

I agree with MiB that this is a holdover from a bygone era when outlets could “brand” the news. I have no doubt that there is leverage to getting the story out there first, but it is fleeting. Interesting though, how things have changed, in that the risk to the brand is not getting to the story first, but bashing the guys who do.

In attacking the story the way they did on TSN last night, they become the story with the associated risk of backlash. I heard a bit of the spot last night and was struck by the disdain in repudiating the story. IMO McKenzie’s tweet regarding his reaction was completely disingenuous. They risk more to their reputations by the fierceness of their rebuttal then in not breaking the story. Or maybe that risk is as fleeting as the leverage in breaking it, especially given the perception of Cox as a trusted source.

Cam
Cam
May 20, 2011 8:21 am

oops just learning the technology thing deleted my first thought…

Interesting TSM how you include Cox in the trusted group of MSMer’s

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
May 20, 2011 8:24 am

Brunt works for a paper owned by the dude who is reportedly the buyer of the Thrashers. I would think his “insider” information on this deal would trump any NHL insider information for accuracy of this story.

Also, as for the flasher in Vancouver, great line by a writer I heard on Calgary radio yesterday, “Finally, the twins show up”

mike (in Boston)
mike (in Boston)
May 20, 2011 9:14 am

In attacking the story the way they did on TSN last night, they become the story

Couldn’t agree more with Cam about this. TSN seems upset about the fact that Brunt has an inside source solely due to his employer. TSN would do the exact same if they were in the same situation. Their reaction comes across as petulant, and not very professional.

The sensible thing for them to do is to say that the Thompson people are not confirming the deal at this time. Unless they have a source saying the deal won’t happen then they need to let this one play out.

Network wars are the least interesting form of corporate tribalism. The only people who should really care are the advertisers and the CEOs. it’s embarrassing when the employees feel the need to cheer for their team (see Hayes’ tweets).

Chris
Chris
May 20, 2011 10:47 am

per TSN story: –NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who attended the Bruins-Lightning game in Tampa on Thursday night, has no plans to travel to Winnipeg on Friday. —

Of coarse, this is what Brunt says in his piece: — Sources confirmed Thursday night that preparations are being made for an announcement Tuesday —

The pettiness, and arrogance from TSN on this story is off the page.

Nick
Nick
May 20, 2011 10:49 am

I have been reading/listening to Bob McKenzie since his days at the Hickey News and TO Star, I like his work but last night that was pure sour grapes! You got beat to a story, Man up, Move on and get the next one Bob.

Nick
Nick
May 20, 2011 10:50 am

Man I hate teh word completion on my iphone! Hockey not Hickey!

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
May 20, 2011 11:15 am

The real story hear, which I am shocked at, is not Winnipeg getting an NHL team, which it should be, but almost without exception the way that TSN responded to the story that Brunt broke.

At the time when Kypreos accidentally tweeted his disdain for the TSN hockey personalities in relation to his work I now see that it is not just him, but even maybe the most accomplished and respected sports reporter this country has even seen in Stephen Brunt.

My disdain for TSN in terms of their arrogance when it comes to getting the rights to basketball properties and then not showing the proper respect to it has been noted, but this latest episode takes things to a completely different level for me.

Not that I am the biggest Sportsnet fan, as they do come across as Mickey Mouse at times, but at least with them I find a level of sincerity in what they do, far more than TSN is able to muster.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
May 20, 2011 11:17 am

Can we ever get a spellcheck here (not hear) TSM?

Craig
Craig
May 20, 2011 11:23 am

It was fascinating to to watch this play out last night. On one hand, you had the entire Sportsnet brand running with this like it was the gossip truth and in the bag. On the other hand, the TSN brand reminded me of a fire dept battling a huge blaze – they couldn’t spray enough cold water on this thing.

As someone who has great respect for the work that both Blunt and McKenzie do, I’m torn. In retrospect, maybe Kypreos was on to something when he inadvertently tweeted that shot across the bow at the TSN crew back at the trade deadline.

James High Park
James High Park
May 20, 2011 11:31 am

if this team does relocate to the peg don’t cheer to much
if and when the cdn dollar goes back down to under 70 cents this team will be on the move again

Gerry (Burlington
Gerry (Burlington
May 20, 2011 11:39 am

James – High Park – Agree, but i also think Oilers/Senators and even Flames struggle then as well. I think Thomson has alterior motives. He has no ties to Wpg, I suspect he plays ball in Wpg for 5-6 yrs and moves this franchise to Toronto.

Dollar is the single biggest factor for the success of smaller teams in Canada.

Daniel
Daniel
May 20, 2011 12:50 pm

For those of you who don’t follow twitter, this from TSM just now:

“anyone hear Dreger on with bryan hayes? talk about a bitter man..wow”
“will post more later- dreger said that we will have to see if there is ANY ounce of truth to Brunt’s story…”

Also, from Damien Cox:

“We in the media shud not turn this WINN story into another media pissing match. Guy brks something, good for him. Now focus on the story.”

David
David
May 20, 2011 1:31 pm

TSN has been very disappointing since last night; Brunt is one of the sports writers I trust most in Canada. I have always liked the TSN guys and really only listened to Sportsnet/Fan for Primetime Sports, but because of last night and this morning, my respect for TSN has dropped greatly.

Andre (Scarborough, ON)
Andre (Scarborough, ON)
May 20, 2011 1:53 pm

Brunt has been in the co-pilot seat for Primetime Sports this week, so should be in the studio with McCowan for the roundtable today. I get the feeling that Bobcat will have something to say about TSN’s response last night, which anyone can see seems laced with sour grapes.

Rome
Rome
May 20, 2011 1:54 pm

Okay I am looking at this in a totally different view, yes TSN are sounding like a bunch of sour whiners. But I also think this is GREAT, this is competition, this is ego. This is scoreboard and very entertaining for me. When a side gets something wrong, I like the other side mocking them. If a side breaks a story, they should go to the other side and say “You just got SERVED!” and have the other guys be bitter. I like the tension between the sides.

I still think Brady deseves more love and props on this entire story (which you did TSM, good on ya) with a very simple word from I would guess a source or friend who plays for the ATL saying that they were told to get ready because they might move this summer.

Daniel
Daniel
May 20, 2011 2:05 pm

This whole Winnipeg story reminds me of why I don’t watch any of the Hockey Trade deadline stuff.

It’s all about who’s breaking trades first (often fairly meaningless ones), who starts the show earliest, who’s got the most experts, who has the most impressive set. As someone said above, it’s about the networks not the league at this point.

I honestly think the best comparison for the Canadian hockey media at this point might be American cable news. So sensationalistic.

Andre (Scarborough, ON)
Andre (Scarborough, ON)
May 20, 2011 3:20 pm

I’m fine with ego and oneupsmanship in sports. Seeing such things played out in the media game is simply distasteful. All I and any right thinking person wants from the reporting media is the truth.

It doesn’t help that I haven’t been much of a fan of TSN in general the last few years. This is hardly helping their cause.

Guy
Guy
May 20, 2011 10:56 pm

I find it odd, that after publishing Brunt’s story Thursday, which stated that the deal was done, set to be announced Tuesday,etc. that there is now a story up on the G&M website, which states there the deal is still in the works and could be finalized this weekend

Todd
Todd
May 21, 2011 1:02 am

Nice to see the passion on this blog! A few things I have noticed: 1.TSN is very arrogant, think they are the best at everything, and when they get beat to something they do not enjoy it. 2. Sportsnet, while catching up, seem to have a more forthright approach which at times might be sloppy, seems more genuine, and more and more entertaining. 3. Steve Simmons came off very well in the twitter aftermath of the story breaking. 4. You can’t believe the NHL so them saying its not done means nothing. 5. The NHL and TSN are massive partners, and this is why you dont see TSN criticize the NHL as much as other papers, TV stations, etc and i wonder if they are mad they didnt get a tap on the shoulder from the league if this is actually true. 6. It is a strange new world in the media war landscape, but fun to follow. 7. great work on this blog, just found it!!!!!

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