Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston (hatemailaccount  a-t- gmail -d-o-t- com)


Gary Bettman’s NHL



“If not this then what?” This is a question I have asked myself when trying to understand how people can hold on to untenable positions. “If not this then what?” means: what would it take to get you to change your mind?


I asked myself this question when my Catholic friends defended the Vatican’s cover up of the rape of children by priests. If you won’t come out against enabling child rape, what would you come out against? I have asked myself this question with respect to Rob Ford defenders. If smoking crack with gang members won’t cause you to withdraw your allegiance to this person, what would? Is there anything he could do that would make you say “that’s too far” or are you really saying that there is nothing he could do to lose your support?


I have been asking myself this question with respect to the goon culture of the NHL for many years. What would it take for the pro-violence crowd to have a change of heart? I thought the McSorley incident might bring change. It did not. People said “he was aiming for the shoulder!” I thought the Bertuzzi assault would bring change. It did not – people blamed the victim. And here we are again with Thornton’s on-ice equivalent of a curb-stomp.


This is your league Gary. I know that people say “Gary just does what the owners say!” but that’s not true of your counterpart in the NFL. Bud Selig went after steroids (a decade too late) as a way of rescuing his legacy. I worry that Gary will wait until someone dies on the ice before trying to rescue his own legacy. Is that what it will take Gary? Because that’s where we are. Just look at the response from within the game: the number of people defending Thornton, either directly or indirectly, is frighteningly high.


I was listening to Pierre McGuire on a Boston radio station. After saying that the Thornton assault was wrong, he praised Thornton for his contrition after the fact. He was effusive in saying that this shows what kind of a character guy he is. He went on to blame the officials for failing to call a penalty earlier in the game.


When someone is paralyzed on the ice I will ask the question “if not this then what?” and I know what the answer will be. People will say he should have never put himself in that position. The change will never come from within. There are too many people committed to defending the game’s history of violence as intrinsic to what makes the sport great. These are the same people who defend fighting by saying it eliminates cheap shots.


Gary Bettman has a very difficult job. But this issue is not difficult. The 10 or 15 game suspension Thornton will receive will not deter things like from happening again. A 50 game suspension, plus a loss of a 1st round pick, plus a large fine might.


Radio Ratings


Great discussion earlier this week of the new book. As far as I can tell there are two camps on TSN’s rise and The FAN’s losses. The first camp is that this is just a regression to the mean. After the death of the Watters show, the FAN went largely unchallenged and so absorbed Watters’ audience. Once TSN established itself, some of that audience gravitated away from the FAN. This seems really plausible to me. The 2nd camp is that the downward trend of some of the FAN’s shows is reflection of listener dissatisfaction. This also seems plausible to me. No one on this site ever writes that PTS is as good as it used to be. The fact that McCown is checked out is largely uncontested. The fact that Shannon and Cox turn people off is also uncontested.


I want both stations to thrive. I have no tribal allegiance to Bell or Rogers. Like most Canadians, I have been fucked over by both. Both produce good and bad content. As I wrote a while back, I want Bob to start thinking about how he wants his run to end. The current trajectory is not a promising one. My own 2 cents are that Bob might benefit from a Johnny Carson schedule – come in Mondays and Fridays, and let someone like Friedman hold down the fort mid-week.


Quick Links


PPP has their annual worst article of the year award thread up. If you enjoy horror movies, you’ll love reading the nominations.


Shoalts has an article on Duthie spurning Rogers to stay with TSN. I’m amazed at how univocal people are in saying that Duthie is so far above the rest as a presenter. I’ve always been of the view that a trained monkey could do this job, but I guess I’m in the minority.


I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Dowbiggin has a column up at the Globe. If you ever wanted proof that no one is ever really fired from a job in Canadian sports media, this should be it.


Low Hanging Fruit – Radio Edition


  • Brunt rightly called out AA for saying that JP handled his issues in Toronto well. That’s the kind of bullshit we became accustomed to with Riccardi. If I were AA I would look to minimize those comparisons right now. I wonder if any media member will follow up with AA about that comment … somehow I doubt it.


  • I have been off podcasts for the last week or so, but the last time I listened to Tim&Sid they were singing a song about Masai Ujiri. Can we please move them to the morning where their whacky sounds, funny clips, and banshee laughter would be more appropriate?


  • TSN Radio seems to have made the decision not to air full shows of TSN Drive on Mon/Tue/Weds. This is the dumbest thing I can imagine, since one of their advantages over PTS concerns the co-hosts.


until next time …

mike (in boston)

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