Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


The end of the baseball season means the beginning of winter, and right on cue it snowed in most of Ontario overnight. It also means that I will be listening to less radio since my appetite for hockey is smaller than your average Canadian’s. Hopefully some more issues arise that cross the boundary between sports and society so we have things to talk about for the next few months.


Also, I appreciate the people who send me anonymous tips about industry news. I can’t just publish rumours though. If you want me to go with something, we need to have some back and forth.


PTS delivers


NHL player Derek Boogaard died of a drug overdose in May 2011. His father Len, a retired RCMP officer, is currently suing the NHL due to their failure to get him the help he needed. You can read about the details of the lawsuit here. Len appeared on PTS with Bob and Stephen Brunt this week to detail the results of his own investigation into the events and contributing factors surrounding his son’s death. The interview is the best thing I have heard on PTS in a long long time.


The interview is riveting. Len speaks with equal parts poise and devastation about the loss of his son. The key findings are that Derek was receiving copious amounts of opiates from team doctors, as well as through other sources. This flow of drugs continued unabated even after he spent two weeks in a treatment program for addiction. In the most egregious instance, he was given prescriptions by a doctor for a team he no longer played for. He was never suspended by the team or by the league despite multiple violations of the terms of his aftercare treatment. He could literally just text a doctor for a prescription for pills he was not supposed to be taking.


The question at the centre of this issue is whether the NHL’s drug program failed Derek or whether Derek managed to circumvent the safeguards the NHL put in place.


I went in to the interview with an open mind, but the facts as presented are damning. Bob put it well when he stated that the drug program is “not worth the paper it is written on.” Brunt continued his recent hot streak by pressing for clarity on several points, which greatly enhanced the interview for the audience.


The most confusing, and heart-breaking, part of the interview came when Bob asked Len who he blames for his son’s death. Len replied that his son “fell through the cracks” of a fault in the system. I wonder if the NHL and the PA will seize on these words and claim that no system is fool-proof and that they are not to blame.


One thing worth noting is that the NHL’s editorial control over Rogers’ hockey coverage clearly has not extended to PTS. Shining a light on the league’s joke of a drug system is not compatible with Moore’s mandate to “celebrate the game” yet the interview was free of pro-NHL bias. Bob and Stephen served the audience very well and deserve a lot of praise for this interview. A huge amount of credit should also go to PTS producer Ryan Walsh for getting the interview and for preparing the hosts. If I’m TSN, I’m wondering how we were beaten to the punch on this one.


Final thought: both the NFL and the NHL have recently been taken to task for essentially treating their players as disposable commodities. Len Boogaard’s findings confirm the theory that the NHL and its PA don’t care much about the long term health of the players. I wonder if the players will step forward and demand better from their representatives.


More CHL lawsuits


TSN’s Rick Westhead and the Star both reported this week on new lawsuits against the CHL and its leagues relating to player compensation. The lawsuits allege that teams have been giving players tax and immigration documents that are consistent with an employer-employee relationship. The suit alleges that the total compensation falls below minimum wages and thus exploits the players.


I wrote about this last week and many people commented that players and parents are more or less happy with the status quo, and that these suits are brought primarily by players who failed out of the league. I regard this line of response as a red herring. It doesn’t matter who brings the suit; what matters is whether the suit has legal merit. That said, I think there is room here for a hybrid system: players (and their parents) can decide whether they want to be treated as employees or as students. If the latter, then they should be entitled to future scholarships. If the former, then they should be entitled to at least minimum wage for time spent on hockey related activities.


CHL president David Branch keeps repeating the following claim: “97 per cent of our players are represented by agents, in addition, the players and their parents are required to sign the SPA and to either provide a certificate of independent legal counsel or a waiver of such.”


Essentially he is saying that the players agreed to the league’s terms under the guidance of legal counsel, so they have no basis for a lawsuit. This makes the league look bad. He is saying that it is not the league’s responsibility to look after the best interests of the players. This would be mostly true if we were talking about professional sports where the players have a powerful union to bargain on their behalf. But we are talking about junior hockey where most players will never make it any further. The league is taking advantage of the fact that most players will work for free for a chance to pursue their dream of an NHL career. Branch should stop drawing attention to this fact if he wants to convince a jury that the league is not exploiting its players.


Quick Hits


Mike Toth thinks the Rogers Game Centre ads are anti-family. Lots of people hate these ads, but this is the first time I have read this specific criticism.


Rogers has teamed up with Vice Media to build a production studio in Toronto. It will be interesting to see what kind of content comes out of this venture. As we have learned in recent days, independent media can break pretty huge stories when they have the backing of major media partners.


Lots of Jays media were smugly talking about how smart AA was not to trade any of the young talent for a chance at the playoffs this year. The fact that two wild card teams made it to the World Series shows how simplistic that analysis is. I don’t like one game playoffs either, but you need to be in the playoffs to have a chance at winning it all.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • Keith Fink, the lawyer representing Varlamov’s ex-girlfriend in her domestic violence lawsuit, appeared on Naylor’s show (Oct 29, hour 1). He came across as a complete idiot. The lowlight was when he asked whether NHL stood for “national hooligan league.” She should seek better counsel.


  • Dan Shulman was also on TSN Drive in advance of Game 7 and said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Bumgarner pitched 2 or even 3 innings. Nice prescience there by Dan. I could listen to him talk baseball all day.


  • Cox is apparently still writing for the Star. If the Star had a sports editor I would ask for clarification on his role at the paper. He’s a full-time Rogers employee now and Feschuk has been bumped up to Cox’s old role. In addition, the Star is trying to establish Bruce Arthur as their flagship writer. What purpose is served by allowing Cox to write for the Star? As of yesterday Cox’s Twitter made no mention of his affiliation with the Star. This is a confusing situation. (Thanks to @ekoreen for clarifying that Jennifer Quinn has been named sports editor at the Star. I, along with the Star’s web person, missed that announcement).


  • Someone last week claimed that Sid Sexeiro is the biggest star at Sportsnet. Do people agree with that? Suppose you had to fire everyone at each of SN and TSN but could keep one person per station to rebuild around. Who do you keep?




thanks for reading and commenting,

please link or mention what you’re reading or listening to this week.

until next time …

mike (in boston)


  • comment-avatar
    WouldStaley93 5 years ago

    Hey @mikeinboston

    If I was doing cost cuts at both Rogers Media and Bell Media. To answer your question I would only keep the following :

    Sportsnet = Elliotte Friedman
    TSN = James Duthie

    Btw. I am really despising Rogers shoving Damien Cox on our screens on both ROGERS HNIC and Rogers Hometown Hockey. He is such a suck up to the NHL. Kevin Weekes or Jeff O’Neill could do a better job then that hack.

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    Sam in Scarb 5 years ago

    Truly,slim picking at both stations:

    Sportsnet = Elliotte Friedman
    TSN = Bob Macko

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    I was thinking about Cox being at the Star at least for Saturdays and what the impact is on Arthur… but then I got to thinking… is Arthur a Star guy? or a TSN guy?
    I can’t believe Arthur’s too happy if Cox is going to get the lead sports column every Saturday (perhaps a very incorrect assumption).

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    MattK 5 years ago

    I’m more of a Tim guy then Sid, but I think Sid can play many roles very well he just plays the goofball role a little too often. I’d like seeing Tim 2-4 Both 4-5 and Sid 5-7 or something along those lines keep them together part of the time but also give them freedom to do their own show. That’s if Bob retires which is unlikely.

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    Jacob 5 years ago

    PTS Friday roundtable about Boogaard was also amazing. Brunt, Grange, Blair and Bob all brought their A games.

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    I have been a die hard 590 listener for years. When Bobcat is on, there are few who are better. Unfortunately, those times are becoming fewer and far between. I always think of who would be the heir, and I’ve always thought Friedman..definitely not Sid, who I do enjoy, but in smaller doses.Duthiw would be great, if he could be lured over, though.

    I recently branched out to listening to a few of the TSN shows, and I think Jeff O’Neil is hilarious. The faux bickering with Ferraro aside, this guy is hopefully on the rise.

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    Kamlesh 5 years ago

    Interesting article on Rogers in Toronto Life.


    “Not long after the MLSE deal closed, Mohamed went to the Rogers board to outline his strategic plan for the next five years—a plan that included a new organizational chart. The most significant difference between the new chart and the old one was that the new one didn’t include anyone by the name of Rogers. Mohamed appeared to be forcing the board’s hand. He knew that change was already in the air and likely wanted to trigger the parachute clause in his contract. It was either him or the family. While the board and Mohamed may have been bluffing, the end result was that Mohamed walked with his total compensation—$17.2 million—and neither side could say for certain whether he’d quit or been let go.”

    “Dispirited employees were envious of Telus, with its slick branding and high customer retention rates. They were tired of working for the most loathed company in Canada.”

    “….just about every Rogers publication—even decidedly un-sporty ones—is required to produce hockey-related content (Flare’s October issue contained a fashionista’s guide to all things hockey).”

    “Laurence has already taken a scalpel to the middle- and upper-management ranks, and he says there are more cuts to come. His apparent obsession with secrecy doesn’t help: internal documents are watermarked with recipients’ names so that if something is leaked, he can pinpoint the guilty party.”

    Why doesn’t TSN move Mike Toth to 1050 and John Leatherby to 1010?

    I remember when Tim and Sid had about the same amount of twitter followers. Now Sid ahead by almost 10000. And it is Sid who was picked (by Bob?) to host PTS while Bob is on vacation.

    I wonder if Strombo keeps underwhelming on HNIC he will be let go and end up taking over Q from Jian Ghomeshi.

    Jian might have been the best broadcaster in the country and always seemed so nice on air. It’s true what Brady said, “You can’t really know anyone.”

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    Apologies if this is redundant information that might have been included in another person’s post but the Star confirmed this morning that Damien Cox will be contributing in the Saturday paper.

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    Not that it matters much to the many critics of his work, I do have to share a story about Damien Cox. I, as many others I believe, have been led to believe over the years that he can be hot-headed and difficult to interact with. In other words, a real prick. And, admittedly, the tone of some of his work didn’t exactly diminish that image.

    Very recently, for the first time ever, our paths crossed. It was in the concourse of a southern U.S. airport and, upon seeing him walking alone, I decided to tempt fate and introduce myself. Honestly, the guy could not have been nicer to me. He was a true gentleman.

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    @GreyCountryMike- think it just goes to show you, these guys are all doing an act of some kind (except guys like Naylor or Hayes who don’t put too much personality out there). Cox is a jerk on radio, apparently nice in real life. Jian seems like a terrific guy on radio, apparently monster in real life.

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    Interesting stuff, Kamlesh. The hockey package was Mohamed’s baby, if I remember correctly. I wonder if, after the fact, someone took another look at the numbers and didn’t like what they saw – and that was a big reason why he’s gone.

    The Cox thing is weird. Despite his role on HNIC, he seems to be more part-time than before at Sportsnet. He’s no longer on PTS at all (thankfully). So maybe he had to go hat-in-hand back to the Star? Who knows.

    Who to keep at SN? I would say Bob/Brunt IF they were to perform like they have over the past couple weeks. If not, Friedman for me. But Sid as host of PTS as a sub wasn’t too bad actually. He didn’t interrupt the guests too much and no annoying horns!

    TSN? I’d probably say Duthie, but with so little hockey, I’m not sure that matters much. If they turned TSN into a soccer network, I would say Kristian Jack is your guy. Love that dude.

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    @ Daniel

    Yes, no doubt. Word is that the curmudgeonly McCown we often hear on air, for instance, is almost the complete opposite of the guy off the air. What happens between 4 and 7 p.m. is mostly an act.

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    Lee (Oakville) 5 years ago

    The financial institution I work for has a relationship with Torstar and I once attended a function with Torstar executives and certain writers from the Star. While most of the writers were funny and interesting, the line exception was Damien Cox. He was ignorant, abrasive and rude. When he left the event we spoke to our Torstar contacts about his behaviour and they indicated that he was considered the biggest a-hole in Toronto media and is widely disliked and disrespected by his peers. From what I saw, his public and private personae are one and the same.

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    @ Kamelesh

    Thanks for that link.

    Extreamly enlightening. Boy are those Rogers Kids a bunch of spoiled brats. Talk about a lack of respect for someone their father really respected in business and someone who turned the wireless division into the beast it is today, Not to mention put millions in their pocket. What a show of jelousy and Hate. I’ve seen it to many times where a billionaire owner passes his fortune to the kids, and the kids drive the company into the ground via EGO. Lakers owner Jerry Buss passes away the son takes over and disaster strikes(Very poor basketball operations decisions which Jerry would never had made) i.e not hiring phil jackson then hiring and firing a coach in the same year.
    James Dolan takes over the Knicks and Madison square gardens from father Jim Dolan in New York and disaster strikes(James allowed isiah to administer a flurry of bad contracts While having several loosing seasons, Turns out isiah spoke for Dolan in a sexual assault case. Oh ya can’t forget My David Asper son of the founder of Global and a ton of media assets, David Gets the torch after father passes, recession strikess David is forced to sell the entire media company his father built from the ground up. David was forced to sell in order to pay debt. Global is now a large entity of Shaw.
    Sad to see when long time legacy’s just goes down the tubes because of kids that feel they are entitled and don’t have to earn it.

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    thanks for the link Kamlesh. What a great piece of writing.

    for what it’s worth, many people have told me that off-air Bob is not much different from on-air Bob.

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    Dave in Bolton 5 years ago

    TSN 1050 = Andrew Walker
    SN 590 = Elliotte Friedman

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    Pants Go Brown 5 years ago

    Long time listener to PTS. What ever happened to Rob Becker?

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    Antonio 5 years ago

    TSN: Naylor
    SN 590: Brady

    The rest are “meh”.

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    Becker is still on. Anecdotally, it seems like he is more often on in the 4pm hour, unless there is a big sports law story. I think you could say the same about Richard Deitsch.

    They do seem to have stopped trying to use Skype with Becker.

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    Dogpounder 5 years ago

    I will always listen to the roundtable on Fridays, provided there is no Cox. However, the 4pm hour on 1050 (Football Friday Hour) absolutely DESTROYS the idiot caller segment on 590.

  • comment-avatar
    Dogpounder 5 years ago

    *Idiot caller HOUR, I mean.

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    Kamlesh 5 years ago

    “jonah @yyzsportsmedia · 3 hours ago
    Is this a live interview with Shane doan one fan 590”

    Shane Doan sounded wide awake for what would have been 5am Arizona time. Was this taped?

    Too bad Brady and Walker spent all that time on Grumpy Cat, could have given Joe Theismann extra time. Should invite him to the studio to do a whole hour or two.

    With all the Lisa Ann talk, Brady/Walker is turning into a podcast of the Rialto Report. Although the interviews are better on Rialto. Especially the one with Larry Revene talking about the early days of making loops, film lab owner Paul Rothenberg murdered by mobster Roy Demeo, and Eddie De Curtis giving Bob Wolfe a ‘mandate’ to create a ‘special’ production, which resulted in the disgusting Linda Lovelace D1 film.

    Also too bad MLSE didn’t have a character like Marty Hodas running the show. A great storyteller. Why can’t athlete interviews be this interesting?

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    kamlesh 5 years ago

    “40 Maps and Charts that explain sports in America”

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    Becker was on PTS tonight at 6.

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    I’m thinking the Doan interview was taped. My guess is that Brady/Walker do these the day before, after their show is done. I’ve noticed that these types of interviews are conducted by one or the other vs. both, so I would guess they take turns as to who stays after the show to do the interview.

  • comment-avatar
    Julian 5 years ago

    Taping interviews? Is this a concern? Is that bad? Are we really debating this? I’d write with no element of irony that most things you see on television, and especially in morning radio, are taped. Why would anyone be surprised by that? Why would that be bad? You do know Alex Trebek doesn’t show up at 730pm every night to do Jeopardy live, right? You do know Peter Mansbridge’s 10pm newscast is on tape, from the 9pm newscast.

    I’m just not sure why anyone’s surprised by this or the least bit critical. I’d be disappointed in a show in the morning that didn’t record guests they couldn’t possibly be getting live, because of time differences. Shows like Today and Good Morning America record interviews all the time, and anchors and hosts have to bring the clothes they’re going to wear the next morning to do those interviews. It’s amazing that kind of stuff has to be explained, but then again, it’s not.

  • comment-avatar

    I have no problem with a morning radio show airing a taped interview………..but I’m not sure I understand why they sometimes try to pretend that the interview is live…………..maybe I’m wrong but I doubt very many people would turn to another station if they heard a host say “here’s an interview we taped yesterday”?

  • comment-avatar

    I agree Mike, I don’t understand the need for the media to pretend that the guest is live, when in actuality the guest it was pre recorded. The giveaway I think is when a taped interview is taking place there is no overlap from the person being so called interviewed, You here a question no sound and then directly after the question the answer, there is not the least bit of overlap(cough, laugh, or any sound after question). Im sorry convo’s are never that polished, there is at least some kind of slight overlap from the person being interviewed.

  • comment-avatar

    It seems like Naylor does pre-tapes everu so often. (Cavaet: i only listen to his show on mondays now.)

    But he always says “we rec this earlier in the day”, which would prob be obv since it usually is done without the cohost.

  • comment-avatar
    Andrew 5 years ago

    I just did a new Fan 590 survey about whether a presenter is a credible source of information. Listed somewhere around 30 people – Brady, Walker, Blair, Tim, Sid etc and about 6 people I’ve never heard of. No Damian Cox.

  • comment-avatar

    I also just completed the FAN 590 survey, and at the end in the comments section called out Kollins, if that is his real name, for hiding behind his surveys and not showing a public persona in any way, either by being reachable, which he isn’t, or actually appearing on the radio and taking calls like the always classy Nelson Millman did.

    Andrew, I overlooked Damien Cox not being included in the survey, although thinking back on who else was missing, John Shannon was not there either. I had to google the people I never heard of, as I was thus able to comment if I recognized their faces.

    I gave very few 10/10 marks out. Only Elliotte Friedman, Shi Davidi, and Tim Micallef got those votes, as Brunt dropped off for me due to his selling himself out i.e. Carrying the Olympic Torch, but I have to say, recently the old (in a good way) Brunt has surfaced, and he has been on fire taking on key issues such as David Branch and the CHL regarding not compensating players and he has been a strong advocate against the NFL and how they operate in their bubble, without any accountability.

  • comment-avatar
    Nan Young Lee 5 years ago

    Dammit Kamlesh no more obscene posts, you’re going to scar someone for life with links showing a long haired Jian Ghomeshi singing. Thankfully The Stooges ‘1970’ opening and closing the compelling interview with Larry Revene helped cleanse the Moxy Fruvous “song” from my brain.

    Another Raptors season another season of 2 awful post games shows. On 590, I think Alex Seixeiro or Ben Ennis could do a good job after basketball games.

    Brady and Walker differ on the Carter Ashton suspension:

    “Andrew Walker @FAN590Walker · 8 hours ago
    Feel bad for Carter Ashton.Don’t believe for a second there was something nefarious at work here. Already in the grind to scratch out career”

    “Greg Brady @bradyfan590 · 2 hours ago
    So this drug Ashton tested + for….it’s not legal to give to animals that will be EATEN by North Americans. Ain’t gonna be in an inhaler.”

  • comment-avatar

    Adam van Koeverden calls out Cathal Kelly on his support for PEDs…