Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: CBC


by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail


Good morning sports media insiders and outsiders. Jonah covered a lot of the big topics this week, so I’ll try to keep my comments briefer than usual. We’ll see how that turns out.


Another Terrible Week in Sports Media


These have been happening with increasing frequency over the last few years. I fear that this is the new normal. The main source of consternation this week was the defamatory Tweet heard round the world thanks to TSN’s inexplicable lack of oversight of its Twitter crawl on trade deadline day.


This led to Phil Kessel lashing out at the media, which in turn prompted another cheap news cycle of whether Phil is a leader and whether or not Phil should be telling the media how to do their jobs. The stupidest version of this was Nick Kypreos on PTS asking “where was this passion on the ice when it mattered?”


Fan tweets add nothing to broadcasts. Period, end of story. I understand that someone who tweets in “Leafs rool, Sens drool #selfiestick” is probably going to watch longer, but that shouldn’t dictate your programming decisions. TSN needs to tread very carefully here. They have been the gold standard for hockey reporting and coverage for a generation now. They recently lost a large element of their arsenal to the competition in the form of NHL rights. Yet since suffering that setback they have trundled along with their other properties, retained their main hockey personalities, and have actually increased their hockey credibility in light of Rogers’ unfortunate focus on soft journalism and celebrating the game when it comes to the NHL.


But, they now have four very public “incidents” — the relative merits of which we have debated at length — on their resume this season in the form of Feschuk, Mirtle, Siegel, and now The Tweet. Whatever good will they have built up as a network with the players and management could easily dissipate if these incidents are not properly handled.


TSN did the right thing by unconditionally apologizing, but that is not an especially laudable action. Of course they would apologize. The more difficult thing will be to hold themselves accountable. There are some tough questions that they have not answered publicly. Who set the policy to have tweets in the first place? Who was responsible for approving tweets that went on air? Did someone actually approve this tweet knowing its content?


In the absence of answers to these questions, are we just supposed to take their word for it that this was an isolated incident, totally free of malice? If I’m the Leafs, I wouldn’t their word for it. And if I’m Bob McKenzie I’m furious that the people at my network are ruining my reputation.


One of the themes that has come out of all of this is whether athletes have a right to be upset with the media when they screw up. The answer is of course they do. The more interesting question is whether things are getting worse, or if we just hear about these things more often. Here I think social media has been a great equalizer, but not in the way you might have thought. What we have seen is that it is not just idiot fans who say stupid things on Twitter. The media is often guilty of the same lack of standards when dealing with each other, with athletes, and with the audience. These are the same people who occasionally show up at practice and stick a microphone in Phil Kessel’s face and get upset if they don’t get the answers they want.


Let me ask you: if you were Kessel or Bautista or Lowry, given what you see from the Toronto media, how much interest would you have in playing nice with them?


There are plenty of media members who are never part of the story. I’m sure Jays players have all the time in the world for Shi Davidi and Scott MacArthur, just as I’m sure that the Leafs love talking to Chris Johnston and Elliotte Fridman and the Raps love talking to Michael Grange and Eric Koreen. But there are an equal number of media personalities who crave the spotlight. Twitter, sports radio, and 24 hour multichannel cable sports puts that all on display. The fans see what the players have to deal with. The players see media members trying over and over again to keep their own names in the news. Given all of this, why would a player go out of his way to help a media member build his or her brand?


As we’ve talked about at length, respect is a two-way street and it’s hard for me to criticize athletes who make personal judgments about when that social contract has been broken. Stephen Brunt had some wise things to say on this topic (PTS March 3rd, 6pm hour).


Exhibit A


Damien Cox took to Twitter to attack David Shoalts of the Globe for an opinion piece the latter wrote in praise of TSN’s deadline day coverage. TSN owner Bell also owns 15% of the Globe and this conflict of interest was not flagged in Shoalts’ original piece. It was a dumb article for Shoalts to write in light of this conflict, and it was an even dumber decision by his editor to run it. The two grown men engaged in a gentle slap fight with a few others joining in, and then the whole thing died down leaving nothing more than some bruised egos and puffed chests in its wake.


A few days later Shoalts followed up with a very factual piece outlining that TSN had continued its ratings dominance of deadline day. Rogers countered with a press release touting that some viewers find its brand of coverage “hipper” than what was on offer last year. PPP/Species1967 has the breakdown of the numbers behind that claim. Having watched 0 minutes of trade deadline day, I have no horse in this race, but I’m happy that the networks are offering differentiated products. Choice is good for the consumer.


The dueling media spin jobs that were on display with Shoalts and Cox embody the sad reality that sports fans must now endure. Just about everyone has a conflict of some kind since Bell and Rogers own most media outlets. Damien has anointed himself special constable of the bias police and Shoalts walked right into his jurisdiction by writing what he did. I don’t blame Cox for reacting … it’s what he does. (As an aside, anyone remember the ode to Sportsnet Cox wrote for the Star when he left to join Rogers full-time?) I blame Shoalts and the Globe for putting themselves in this situation in the first place. Let someone else write an opinion piece about the merits of the two flavours of deadline coverage. Shoalts has been doing some excellent work on the raw numbers surrounding Rogers’ hockey investment, and this just cheapens the value of that very good work.


Shoalts was a regular PTS guest at one time in the not too distant past. He does not appear on TSN Radio as far as I can tell. I had thought of him as one of the last few free agents in the market. Whether or not he is bought and paid for by Bell, that perception is now out there. Disappointing.


Blundell Touches Down; Scorches Earth


The biggest question I had about the new show was this: will it be a sports show? The answer is pretty clear that it is not.


Brady & Walker had its share of detractors but it was without a doubt a show driven by sports knowledge. For example, Walker’s Wilner-esque love of Marcus Stroman grated to no end, but he could at least talk intelligently about Stroman’s pitch repertoire and whether the 23 year old had accrued enough innings as a starter to warrant a guaranteed spot in the rotation. The same high level of discourse was true of Brady’s NFL talk for the most part. When you listened you could be confident that they knew what they were talking about, and if one guy fell short the other would make up for the difference.


I listened to about 6 segments this week and here is my perspective on Blundell. Whenever sports topics come up he speaks in very broad generalities, and relies a lot on &Co to fill out the details. The problem is that &Co take their cue from Dean and so the discussion is often poorly framed and his questions don’t encourage compelling answers or analysis. Others may not be bothered by this, but it is not what I want out of a sports radio show. It is also a serious departure from what came before.


Blundell’s strengths seems to be in pop-culture, YouTube clips, and traditional guy talk. I can see why Kollins et al were interested: this is the demo that is currently choosing Richards over the FAN. The plan goes like this: if the FAN could retain its existing audience and steal away the guys listening to Richards then you’ve got yourself a 12 share and we’re all getting big bonuses this winter. The flaw in this plan is obvious: what if you don’t retain B&W’s audience? Are there enough 20-something dudes who identify with 47 year old Blundell to make up for those you’ve alienated?


I honestly don’t know. The show doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m also not stuck in my car on the DVP. Maybe the logic is that you have a captive audience and they’ll choose Blundell over Richards, since the alternative to both is no sports at all.


Over to you: is there enough sports talk in the morning on either station for your tastes? If you’re a Richards listener, is Dean drawing you over, brother?


Quick Hits


Get ready for lots of JaysTalk in the weeks to come in this space. I have a lot to say about this off-season and the narrative around the clubhouse cleaning that came with this spring training. Ian over at BJH has some food for thought. Also, I listened to a delightful podcast featuring Scott MacArthur, Griff, and the poor Chisholm fellow who has to write the always glass half-full headlines for


Note: after writing this comment I was informed that Gregor Chisholm does not write the headlines, and is employed by MLB Advanced Media and not the team. I apologize for this comment and the implication that he is under a mandate to always say positive things about the team.


NBC featured a primetime hockey game this week and the ratings were not good. There is little other sports competition at this point on the calendar, what with the NFL being in its brief hibernation period, and MLB just barely being awake.


This poor showing comes at a time when Gary Bettman and Bill Daly are trying to spin the fact that Las Vegas has not met season ticket sales expectations. Things have been relatively quiet in Gary’s world as of late and he has been quoted recently as saying there are no teams at risk of moving. I wonder if this is a calm before the next storm, or if indeed the league is set for smooth sailing. Something about the Canadian dollar tells me that is not very likely.


ESPN has a very in-depth story on the process and the result of the new MLS CBA. Interesting stuff.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • My favourite Rogers VP and very vocal Blundell supporter Julie Adam tweeted this out on Sunday: “@BradyAndWalker all set for their afternoon debut tomorrow at 1 on @FAN590! Good luck boys! @FAN590Walker @bradyfan590” Let me echo these sentiments. Good luck boys!


  • There are currently no podcasts for this week’s TSN Drive program in iTunes, except for Friday’s show. I mean why would you want to have those up? No one cares about the fallout from trade deadline day, right? In 5+ years of podcasting PTS I can’t remember the FAN screwing up the feed even once. TSN Radio by contrast has been serially incompetent.


  • Bobcat, who makes a million dollars a year to talk on the radio, had a message to the people making minimum wage selling hotdogs at the ACC: Get a real job! I have never before formed the impression that Bob is a mean person. This was either unpleasantly out of character or a rare glimpse into his actual character. I hope it was the former.


  • Just about everyone in the media likes Cathal Kelly personally, but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone disagreeing when I say that he is currently stealing money from his employer. His articles are self-serving and insipid. Bad investment by the Globe.




thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)


  • comment-avatar

    I’m pretty sure I heard Jeff O’neil say that Kessel is paid too much and doesn’t deliver enough to comment… Crept that is what I remember of Jeff O’neil in Toronto…

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    Steve in Waterloo6 years ago

    Thanks for this Mike in Boston

    Cathal Kelley’s writings when he was with the Star, were interesting, professional and sought out.

    Since he’s moved to the Globe, he’s gone off the radar??? Don’t know if it an editorial request or what, but I’ve gotten to the point that I mostly don’t even read his columns anymore.

    The Globe’s sports is lacking – take away Kelley’s column and we seem to be left with a few AP reports.

    Please, amp up the Sports coverage at the Globe!

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    mickey b6 years ago

    Great stuff again. Very surprised though that you didn’t touch upon the fact that paid rogers personalities have been allowing worse gossipy crap on air from callers and even saying worse things on air (than the awful and inexcusable TSN tweet) for many months now. Personally, I think it’s much worse for Rogers to pay people who are intentionally putting out terrible things about players (including Lupul and many others) as opposed to an unintentional tweet written by someone that does not work for TSN. Again, not excusing the tweet that went on air that TSN owned up to but why isn’t Rogers being held accountable for saying worse things intentionally by their own staff? You worry about Bob McKenzie’s reputation but shouldn’t you be more worried about someone from Rogers reputation more knowing that their employer is paying people to work along side you that intentionally put out mean, awful, gossipy crap? Is it one of those tree falls in a forest does it make a sound?

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    Dogpounder6 years ago

    “The dueling media spin jobs that were on display with Shoalts and Cox embody the sad reality that sports fans must now endure.”

    “Whether or not he is bought and paid for by Bell…”
    Perpetuating the Shill Gambit talk that is way too prevalent around here.

    Spot-on with the Blundell analysis. I have been hating on him here pre-launch but admit I was curious. There is no intelligent sports discussion happening at all. I feel bad for &co as they’re probably capable.
    Richards and Matt Galloway will be receiving more morning listening from me.

    Always an interesting read. Thanks.

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    I asked the tsn drive twitter account about the pod. They asked if i used itunes. I said i did not. They said all pods were available on the tsn radio webpages. And then, later that day, friday’s show appears without me doing anything.

    I seemingly never have any issues w the tsn fc or tsn analytics podcasts showing up.

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    Dean Blundell. Oh boy. When they do that segment where listeners can call in and try to stump them with question, to win tickets to Jays pre season. It sounds like an Edge segment, where they keep hanging up on callers. They have these rules where if you say “no” or something, you lose and they hangup. That might have worked with the Edge crowd, but what a way to chase away listeners in your first week.

    And speaking of the Edge crowd, you can tell some of them called in. One guy in a weird voice asked Dean something like “what woman has the most French Opens?”, and when Dean guessed Serena Williams, the caller says disappointed, see what kind of an answer is that…?” So I assume those “Wha happened?” types will tune out pretty quickly.

    And yeah Dean is going to stick his foot in his mouth with his generalized sports talk soon enough. He’ll say something statistically or simply factually wrong.

    Kudos though for a fun Charles Barkley interview, though that’s as much about Chuck.

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    Why would the perception of Shoalts change because someone (with a much deeper bias) pointed out the longstanding minority owner? Not sure I’m following that comment.

    The entire TSN vs Sportsnet fight feels so unproductive at this point. There are people doing great work on both sides.

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    I generally enjoyed Blundell & Co this week. I think it was fairly obvious it wouldn’t be the traditional morning drive sports talk show when they hired the guy. It isn’t his strong suit, entertaining people is. The show is still based around sports, it’s just more entertainment based than it is ‘lets repeat the same shit over and over every hour for people just tuning in’. Lets be honest, in the world we live in now, most people know what happened the night before, before they even begin their morning commute.

    I know most of the hardcore here won’t like the change, but they aren’t catering to us, nor should they be. There’s a large amount of young male listeners out there to be had (the ones advertisers covet) and the Fan is obviously trying to get it. The proof will be in the pudding when the ratings come out. Either the show will fail, and listeners will go elsewhere, or it’ll be an over-whelming success and ratings will soar. I don’t believe it’ll be anywhere in the middle ie same ratings as Brady and Walker. If listeners do leave, I doubt it’ll be to Richards at TSNR as the show is total hack garbage. 640 and 1010 will be the benefactors.

    If TSNR really wanted to help itself, they’d move Macko & Cauz to mornings as imo, it’s the best show on the station.

    “The dueling media spin jobs that were on display with Shoalts and Cox embody the sad reality that sports fans must now endure. Just about everyone has a conflict of some kind since Bell and Rogers own most media outlets. ”

    Couldn’t agree more. In addition, the sports outlets who aren’t owned by Rogers or Bell, like the Star and Sun, have writers who do side work for one or the other. Their truly isn’t an unbiased sports voice left in this city, which is a shame.

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    Steve Jones6 years ago

    All due respect Mike but I have to disagree wholeheartedly with your opening take on TSN. You seem to be stretching things a bit too far in my opinion. First, you lumped in four separate incidents, 2 of which are only tangential to TSN, Mirtle and Feschuk. Siegel was only doing his job, and whether you agree and disagee it’s only one mans opinion and not an indictment of the network. As for the tweet it was a production mistake, not an editorial personality error. All in all I think your lumping totally unrelated incidents together and drawing a false conclusion.

    Further, I think to even suggest that TSN would purposely run the tweet is frankly ridiculous. What would they have to gain? It wasn’t heavily reported until late day so it didn’t drive viewers. And it didn’t help them publicly. Your position that these recent, so called, gaffes are destroying Mckenzies reputation is equally over the top. Why do you even single him out? I honestly don’t know why him and not Duthie or any other cross sport face of the network.

    I have to say I am equally confused by your take on Shoalts. Sure he works for a 15% owned newspaper. But I see his reporting as inherently biased. As you note he has ties to SN and not TSN. I hardly think someone at Bell is telling him his opinion. On top of this to compare him to a full time employee of Rogers is unbalanced. Of course Cox is going to defend his company. Even McCown the antithesis of the company man was heard pumping the ties of the SN trade deadline show.

    Blundell. I heard literally 10 seconds of his show. 7am Monday the alarm went off and for some reason 1050 was on. Blundell uttered the number to call which ended with EDGE. I turned it off.

    I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m giddy about the LV ticket campaign. Why Quebec, a real hockey market with deep pocketed people behind it, can’t get a team is a tragedy. I know Bettman will say he wants to balance the league but trying to force fit a market with little hockey interest just means another imminent failure.

    All else aside another great thought provoking piece. A great Saturday AM read. Thanks.

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    Lee (Origoni)6 years ago

    Sigh. Another media week highlighted by Damien Cox’s anger and ignorance. Shoalts and McKenzie have nothing to worry about their reputation. Sportsnet, however, should be very concerned about theirs by having someone like Danien Cox on their payroll and publicly representing their corporate values.

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    I tuned into Blundell and Co. for the entire week…listening live and catching up later in the day with the podcast. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I agree that it is not primarily a sports show. It is a tamed down version of the morning show on the Edge with a sports theme. I can see how hardcore listeners might be turned off but, in my opinion, it is no different than what Richards does on TSN and what Tim and Sid do between 1 and 4 (for now). I will admit that Tim and Sid have more sports knowledge but I don’t think that Blundell was overly weak in that regard. He deferred to his co hosts and guests, and as Mike pointed out, talked in generalities. He did not seem that out of place to me. Of course, some bits worked more than others (the contest might need some revamping) but it is just the first week and I think we need to give them time to gel. I thought the strongest part of the program were the interviews. Blundell engages his guests well and the interviews are very crisp and professional. I thought the interaction between Rusic and Blundell worked the best when they argued or disagreed (listen later in the week when they discuss the World Hockey Championships and, later, whether fans want a multi-year rebuild).
    I understand the show is not everyone’s cup of tea but I truly hope it thrives. It is entertaining and has an edge. Rogers is obviously trying to appeal to a wider audience…bring in the casual fan and a younger demographic….the people they can sell NHL GameCenter to and who will watch on their mobile devices.
    In regards to the whole media fiasco this week I found it both entertaining and embarrassing. The dysfunction is almost more fun to watch than if the Leafs were in the playoff hunt. I tend to agree with Kessel and I find most print types mean spirited. I am sure it is wearing on the Leaf dressing room. The tweet was no doubt the last straw.

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    Steve Jones6 years ago

    Sorry, just one more thought on the issue of reporter bias. It is very true that most of the prominent print reporters have an affiliation with one of the sports networks. Undoubtedly it does lead to at least some bias in how they cover their employers. In the end does it really matter? Do I care if Cox spends all day pumping SN? Not really. What I care about is how they cover sports stories, or more pointedly how well I think they do their job. If Cox wants to opine that the SN coverage is the best ever, well OK. But if he says the Leafs are a truly gifted team with huge promise I would have an issue.

    It’s interesting how the business of sports and sports media has blead into the coverage of sports. Which is why I have always enjoyed Bobs show. And it bares mention he is one guy who has been known to be blistering in his opinion of his employer.

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    mike (in boston): As always, the best Saturday morning read going! Thanks so much for doing this.

    Bang-on about Cathal Kelly: In a town filled with egomaniacal sports media types, he is in a league by himself. The world really is all about him apparently.

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    With regards to the Dean Blundell show and in particular the “Stump the Show” segment…Friday took the cake for me. Caller asks the question – “who was the opposing manager in the Jays only forfeit game in their history?”. Blundell responds that this is an obscure question…too obscure for us and ditches the caller as quick as possible (answer BTW is Earl Weaver/Baltimore Orioles).

    So really…if you are looking for some intelligent morning sports conversation, Blundell probably isn’t going to be the place for some listeners.

    Maybe George Rusic should be the one quarterbacking segments like these.

    The schtik of ditching callers over questions and giving the prize by default to the last caller is going to ware thin very quickly on listeners.

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    Claire A Fye6 years ago

    James I think you’ll find a lot of comments here that are hard to follow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It does give you a pretty good idea of how the sports media audience perceives things. For instance, I think it’s interesting that the “Twitter war” between TSN and Sportsnet is seen as a battle. I haven’t seen any TSN tweets directed at Sportsnet but there sure has been a bunch of stuff from Sportsnet, on air and on social media. People questioning why David Shoalts is “suddenly” doing media pieces again seem to be ignorant of how things work in the business. Shoalts, if he has any bias, would I think lean towards Rogers because he has done some work there in the past. That’s just my opinion though. The 15% stake Bell has in the Globe shouldn’t be an issue. I don’t know if Shoalts ,or his editor, would even be aware of it. There are a number of things in this week’s MIB column that are questionable in my opinion. McKenzie worrying about his reputation? Give me a break. The Feschuk and Siegel pieces were journalism, plain and simple. You may disagree with what was asked but too bad; they were doing their job. The Mirtle tweet is an example of a reporter being overzealous and Lord knows we see much too much of that since social media has developed as a forum for instant opinion. As for the Deadline day tweet, TSN has acknowledged its mistake, apologized,admitted to its mistake (accountability!!!) and instituted a new policy eliminating audience tweets in future broadcasts. To suggest that somehow there may have been malice intended by allowing that tweet to air is ludicrous. Neither TSN or Rogers or any other broadcaster would knowingly allow such a thing to occur. To believe otherwise is to express ignorance of the way these companies do business. Reputations are at stake, something every company works very hard to establish.
    This is one of the worst articles you have written Mike. I think maybe all the adulation you get from readers here is going to your head

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    Markhamite6 years ago

    Have to agree with Claire here.

    I like to read your stuff weekly and enjoy it MIB, but this wasn’t your strongest week.

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    Anyone catch PTS Roundtable yesterday? How does Shannon keep getting invited back? He chronically interrupts and talks over others. And that voice! Awful. Just awful.

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    Why have you lumped Feschuk in with these other “incidents”. He did nothing wrong. Also, you blame Shoalts for writing a ratings piece? Why is that a problem? 15% Bell ownership in the Globe is really nothing. He has as much right to cover this stuff and Cox has a right to make an ass of himself.

    Overall, not your strongest article, Mike. Sorry.

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    What I take from Mike’s observations is that, as much as some folks may not wish to admit it, the Toronto Sports Media community is ripe with conflicts of interest.

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    It’s not just sports but news journalism as well: See Peter Mansbridge, Leslie Roberts, Amanda Lang…

    I understand and deplore conflicts of interest in journalism, but in Shoalts’ case, I don’t think there was much if any to speak of – certainly nothing compared to the “coverage” the Jays get from Sportsnet, which is 100% owned by Rogers. Now that’s a conflict!

    And some of Mike’s other generalizations about bad journalism were in my opinion, a little off the mark.

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    Curt: I agree wholeheartedly on the conflicts of interest that have taken over journalism. It’s a fact … and one that, on its own, is not the biggest problem. What is more disturbing than a conflict of interest is trying to deny or ignore the conflict of interest.

    If a professional comes right out and admits his or her conflict of interest, then the market can take their reporting or commentary for what it’s worth. That, I have little problem with. But when a journalist goes on the air, makes a bold statement that clearly stems from a lucrative relationship they have, and in some cases a vested interest in, then that’s a serious integrity and credibility problem.

    I’m a big Bob McCown fan, but he’s been skirting this for years with his various investments and business ventures.

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    I’m curious what led the conversation to McClown telling ACC part-time workers to get a real job? As someone who works there part-time selling hot dogs on top of my full-time job, I can say the pay is well above the $10 minimum wage and is a much more pleasurable experience than I’ve ever had listening to his show. Nearly all part-time employees there work other jobs or are in school, so I’m not following where his rant came from or the purpose of it.

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    Dave in Bolton6 years ago

    SN will never beat TSN bc TSN is the ESPN of Canada and no matter what Rogers tries unless they buy TSN, SN will always just be the FOX Sports of Canada just the way the network was designed to be from day 1.

    anyways if anyone from TSN 1050 and 590 are reading this here’s some changes id like to see with their respected radio stations.

    TSN hire Andrew Walker and put him in the 2-4 time slot leading in to the Drive show. Walker has the voice that reminds me very much of Patrick Show. he has the skills to have his own show. would be interesting if it was Brady vs Walker instead of together.

    less Brian Hayes please he’s good but we don’t need to hear him for 5 hours 12 to 2 is good enough. less is more with Hayes.

    move Mike Richards to late nights after Game night his type of radio stick is better suited for late nights then annoying ppl first thing in the mourning.

    move Macko and Cauz to the mourning show and replace them with Mike Hogan, He was successful at the Fan in that time slot.

    less of the TSN Hockey Insiders we don’t need to hear them every day.

    jeez where do I begin with 590 lol they need alot

    I never want to hear Ken Reid again!!!!! the worst Television/Radio personality in the Country. ship the man to GUAM don’t care as long as HE’S OFF MY TV!!!!!!!!

    move Dean Blundell to late nights to compete with Mike Richards. let Dean lose in the late night time slot

    take George Stroumboulopoulos off of Hockey Night in Canada pair him with Jeff Merek as the 590 new mourning team. Stroumboulopoulos is not a good fit for HNIC and move the man off of Hockey coverage. Elliot Freedman would be a better host for HNIC then George.

    590 needs an overhaul and fast bc TSN will over take them just like on TV.

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    “jeez where do I begin with 590 lol they need alot”

    @Dave in Bolton
    I can see how you would come to that well informed conclusion, with their ratings being what they are and all.

    I don’t understand how Shannon is on the roundtable seemingly every week, either. It’s not so much his voice for me, I just don’t feel he adds much of anything to any sports conversation other than hockey. I also find when there are younger talent like Tim, Sid, Arash, or whomever, he dismisses their opinions, and talks to them like a condescending douche.

    I enjoy the roundtable’s, and I enjoy them much, much more when Shannon isn’t a part of them.

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    Not that Chris: You make an excellent point about Shannon dismissing the views of other Roundtable participants, particularly younger ones. He’s done this for years … and it’s very odd why he continually is asked back to participate. Others who acted similarly on PTS Roundtables were phased out pretty quickly. It’s got to be one of two things: Either Shannon is a True F.O.B. or someone upstairs in Rogers is insisting that Shannon be cross-promoted as much as possible. Either way, the listeners have to suffer. It’s too bad, because the PTS Roundtable can still be, at times, the best sports radio show in this market.

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    I’m skeptical about how well Blundell will do. Blundell has a voice for radio, so he has that going for him. His interview skills are quite good as well, but he needs to temper his ability to stray off topic and the incessant laughing, and for the love of God, please refrain from using the term “brother” all the time. I agree completely with the Stump the Show and What Happened comparison and that the bit is going to wear thin very fast. Blundell’s sports knowledge isn’t up to snuff, but I find he knows just enough in general terms to get him by…at least for the time being.

    In the long run, I don’t know what to expect. But it donned on me that Rogers’ decision to bring in Blundell is similar to their decision in bringing Strombo to host HNiC. They’re trying to bring in a younger demographic with the hopes of looking more appealing to advertisers. Unfortunately, Rogers screwed up on the HNiC side where they are seemingly losing their hardcore base at a pace that outweighs that new younger demographic (did they really say HNiC is hipper…LOL…fools). I can totally see the same thing happening on the radio side once the Blundell novelty wears off and the show settles into a daily routine.

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    Great job as always, Mike!

    I actually disagree with you on feeling like the new morning show ‘isn’t a sports show’. I actually thought there was TOO much sports on it, to be honest. I listened to a fair bit on podcast, and I don’t think I heard one segment that wasn’t sports related. Even McCown does 20 minutes a show or so of shootin the sh*t about his life or current events. Every Blundell segment seemed to be on a sports topic. I feel like if you’re bringing a guy like that in, and broaden your audience, you want to let him meander to other topics.

    I agree with you that he definitely doesn’t have the sports knowledge of a Walker or Brady – or of most Fan hosts. I thought he managed OK though, sports wise. He didn’t offer opinions that make you cringe like Krystal did. It does come across as ‘casual sports talk’ rather than ‘nuts and bolts sports talk’.

    Overall though, I thought the show was pretty good. For a first week in particular. I’m not sure if Rusic is the guy to pair with him yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the show ends up working, at least to some degree.

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    Rusic will be just fine, when he stops being try too hard, guy. He was guilty of that a lot this past week. Although, in fairness to him, this show really is his first big shot at being something on the station.

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    MIB, I wish you wouldn’t worry (for lack of a better word) about what Jonas writes throughout the week, just write what you want, no need to “keep it short”

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    Its hard to not have conflicts of interests in the 21st century with media conglomerations owning most everything and being in bed with the subjects they cover, be it sports, entertainment or news.

    In the sports world, i think the biggest conflict of interest is when writers/broadcasters have the same agents as their subject.

    So, you give the jorno the chance to prove their integrity and accept it or write them off as credible.

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    @GreyCountyMike Regarding Shannon..I think his wife kicks his know-it-all ass out of the house every morning, and he just hangs around the radio studio all day, itching to get on. All the real talent must love him, cause they know if they need to take a day or a week off, Ol’ Shanny will be there to cover them.

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    Loved Brunt and Blair shutting down Shannon re pitcher wins on the roundtable. Too funny. They also schooled Sid a bit which was pretty funny. I like Sid, but he can get really blowhard-y sometimes.

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    Steve on St Clair6 years ago

    I get up at about 7:30 every morning and turn on the fan while in the shower. It was bad enough that I have Grapeline inflicted upon me but now I have to deal with this painful “Stump the Show”. Does anybody actually enjoy this POS? Since when did dead air and hang ups become entertainment?

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    Wondering why Cox above the fold in the Star sports section and Arthur below the fold. Who is the lead columnist there?

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    Blundell situation sounds like Bro Jake Edwards on TSN 1040 in Vancouver. Former morning zoo/classic rock type who is unable to talk about sports with any depth.

    I don’t know anyone who likes it.

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    Well I certainly didn’t expect this to take off the way it did. Let me respond to some of the comments.


    On Shoalts: I don’t think he is biased by the fact that Bell owns 15% of the Globe. There is a false equivalence between Cox working for Rogers and Shoalts working for Bell. I do think that he/the Globe opened the door to Cox’s accusations of bias by writing an opinion piece rather than just sticking to the facts.

    My only point is: why open that door? Why not just wait until the numbers are in and THEN write a piece about the deadline day coverage? So, to reply to James’ question, the appearance of bias is now out there in a way that it would not have been had Shoalts stuck to the facts. Or so I think.

    On McKenzie: I don’t think his reputation is at risk. WHat I do think is that he is the Godfather of hockey insiders in Canada, and he is the face of TSN Hockey. When Lupul tweets out that TSN is a poor man’s TMZ that includes McKenzie. I can’t imagine he is happy that every time The Tweet is shown, he is indirectly associated with it.

    On TSN’s 4 “incidents”: I should have worded that better. Here is what I am saying: from a player’s perspective these 4 very different incidents might plausibly be lumped together, even though they are very different. Like I said, we can debate the nuances of these incidents, but if the players are pissed at Siegel and Feschuk and associate both of them with TSN, that is a problem for TSN.

    Now here is where I might be wildly off the mark. Maybe players don’t track network affiliations the way we do. Maybe they just see individuals, and not employers. I’ll try to talk to someone about that in the weeks to come.

    … more in the next reply …

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    On The Tweet and malice:

    Ok, I really should have laid out the case here much better than I did. Indulge me in some abstract thinking:

    – which is more likely: 1) that TSN’s tweet crawl was automated, or 2) that a human had to approve each tweet that went to air. I believe 2 is more likely. Next:

    – which is more likely: 1) that a human misunderstood The Tweet, or 2) that a human did understand it. I believe 2 is more likely. Next:

    – which is more likely: 1) that a human didn’t see anything wrong with The Tweet, or 2) that a human saw that it could harm and approved it anyway

    I don’t know what to believe here, which is why I raised the malice question. It’s implausible to me that a person could read The Tweet and say “nothing problematic here” and approve it. But it’s also incredible that a person would be so unprofessional as to recognize how offensive The Tweet was, and let it go to air. And yet it ended up on the air …

    Curt Schilling’s daughter was subject to hateful and possibly criminal harassment by someone on Twitter who it turns out works (worked) for the Yankees. Maybe The Tweet ends up on the air because that person hates Phaneuf for whatever reason. I just don’t know. But if I’m the Leafs, I want an answer.

    Think about this: what would have happened if Burkie still ran the Leafs when The Tweet happened? Think about his reaction to Feschuk calling Reimer’s mum. I reckon that Burke would have demanded a head on a stake from TSN.

    So I certainly grant that it’s possible this was a case of someone hitting the wrong button at TSN, but that is not the only reasonable explanation. I’m not sure why so many of you are convinced that it HAD to be a clerical error. What evidence are you basing that on?

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    p.s. Steve Jones – great comments. I tried to email you to follow up but not sure if the email you posted under is valid.

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    Drumanchor6 years ago

    @MIB. For what it is worth, my guess is that “The Tweet” was the result of an unpaid intern being distracted. Doing too much for zero money in hopes of landing some kind of full-time job at minimum wage.

    Trade Deadline Day is probably a very busy, live television event at both networks. My suspicion is that it just slipped through the cracks and that a low level “employee” was either reprimanded or fired.

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    My impression was, rightly or wrongly, was that the tweet feed was automated but programmed to drop anything with swear words. The tweet did not drop the F bomb or anything else that might get flagged, so it got true.

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    Bobby Digital6 years ago

    In regards to the infamous Tweet. The program was automated to amalgamate all tweets with the hashtag #Tradecentre, but to make it to air it still needed to be approved. An actual human being approved it, likely because they are careless and didn’t read the entire thing. That same human then denied responsibility for the Tweet and pointed in everyone’s direction other than their own. Somehow the person remains employed by TSN despite the fact it was not their first infraction.
    True story.

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    Claire A Fye6 years ago

    @Mike(in Boston) Please don’t take this personally Mike. I don’t know you and I understand this is a fun, unpaid hobby you’re doing here and I appreciate your opinions. I do think it’s pretty unfair, though, that you get a chance to come back and explain yourself as you did above. I quote, ” I should have worded that better”, and ” I really should have laid out the case here much better”. There were many other clarifications, reiterations, and explanations that members of the media don’t get. Sometimes it’s unfair because editors may have changed the context or wording and yet still we judge. And I also think it’s even tougher on radio, because once something’s out of your mouth, you can’t bring it back.
    I think we’re pretty well served in Toronto when it comes to sports media. There are a lot of people here who can’t believe it isn’t better, but in my opinion it is as good here as anywhere else. I’m just holding you to the same standard.

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    Jonathan Giggs6 years ago

    I agree with Claire A Fye. Mike needs an editor. I would recommend writing less (fewer topics), but ensuring that the copy is tight so we don’t get after publication explanations.

    No mention either about Jim Van Horne’s comment about the infamous tweet. Lots of talk about conflict of interest here but is this site beyond reproach?

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    Billy C.6 years ago

    Claire, please don’t take this personally, but you’re the worst commenter on this site.

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    dogpounder6 years ago

    It’s a blog.

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    As someone who has been reading and sometimes commenting on this blog for the better part of 3 years, I couldn’t disagree more with posting less content. Mike also doesn’t need an editor so it’s tighter. He’s writing his opinion, for free, on a blog. This isn’t some MSN site where he’s being paid to write, and be accurate. That’s the MSM job, not his. It’s why they get paid to do it and he doesn’t.

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    Amen to @dogpounder and @Not That Chris. Those that feel the need to be critical of @MIB for the incredible effort he puts forth every week into this column should think twice or go elsewhere.

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    If Burke were still running the Leafs,he probably would have imposed a ban on the media by now..take the fine and kick them out of the room.

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    Absolutely. There is no obligation by anyone on this site to be accurate. Accuracy should be the last thing anyone here should be worrying about because no on is getting paid… I appreciate what MIB does and read the column when I have the chance.
    But to say he doesn’t have the obligation to be accurate because he doesn’t get paid is preposterous. It’s that kind of ridiculously low standard, in fact it’s no standard at all, that would keep a blog from being relevant.
    Keep up the decent work, MIB, and strive to be better than some of your readers.

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    Clair A Frye

    You absolutely lost me. Your comment above to me made no sense. Many media members out there re-track statements all the time, albeit days later through a large entity telling them what to do based on the reaction. The beauty of this site is that the blogger is instantly made accountable for what he posts and can sincerely admit right away(through interaction with his commenters) when he makes a mistake, as oppose to issuing a statement through an agent or huge hierarchy(which is all about pr). How is MIB to blame for this, that is just internet in the 21at century. I think you may not have a grasp on the various platforms of media and how each carries there own unique benefits.

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    Poker Guy6 years ago

    Clair is entitled to his opinion, as am I.

    Clair, you’re wrong.

    This is a blog, as Not That Chris stated. You cannot hold it up to the standards, or compare it to a paid publication. Free forum. Free speech. I respect that you are entitled to your opinion, but don’t agree with it, or your assessment.

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    I think Cathal Kelly is great. He’s one of the few journalists in this city who is actually worth reading. My guess is that the Globe gives him cart blanche to write about whatever he wants – as it tends to be interesting, regardless of the subject matter.

    His piece on the Bass fishing championships was hilarious. If it was written by someone else, there’s no chance I would have read it. Because he wrote it, I read it and enjoyed it.

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    @Drumanchor – yes, probably an unpaid intern or a very lowly paid and newly hired production assistant who likely paid for this by losing their much valued and likely first media job. I tweeted as much the day ‘The Tweet’ happened. You could probably assume as much now that no further news of the lawsuit has come forward. Elisha Cuthbert Tweeted to ‘commend’ the tweeter for taking responsibility for his actions. I am sure she, Dion and Lupul heard exactly how the Tweet made it to air, know it was an honest mistake, and have now moved on as should we. ( much like none of the bloggers sued by Burke ever ended up in court ).

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    Steve Jones6 years ago


    Thanks for the props. Sorry to see the comments devolve into a critique of the column. Some people don’t seem to understand the difference between blog and MSM. Or that disagreement with your opinion doesn’t mean you are wrong or inaccurate.

    FYI I used an email that will reach me should you still want to get in touch.

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    Claire A Fye6 years ago

    I fully understand the difference between a blog and MSM. This site tries to break news about the sports media in this town, reporting changes in lineups and bylines. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some credibility. That was my point, but further to it, if somehow I’m supposed to read MIB or TSM and not hold them to some standard, why are they writing it and why am I reading it.. Mike interviews media members; am I supposed to discount that because he’s not professional? People here have often referenced Andrew Stoeten, a very good Blue Jay blogger. I like his writing as well, but am I supposed to hold him to a lower standard? I don’t see it that way.I would suggest this site isn’t, in fact, strictly a blog

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    It was nice to have Brunt back on PTS last week with McCown, at least until McCown left for vacation on Thursday

    The interview they had with Gary Bettman was interesting………they did a decent job, although I was disappointed they had him on for a full hour and didn’t ask him about the apparent tanking of multiple teams………they probably wouldn’t have got a great answer from Bettman but I think the question needed to be asked because it is one of the biggest issues facing the NHL this year

    The low point for Brunt last week was when he asked Bettman why the World Cup was discontinued for many years……….it was a valid question………Bettman answered by saying it was because the NHLPA was antagonistic for many years and then instable for many years………Brunt did not follow up on those comments, even though everyone knew he disagreed with them……….after Bettman left the studio they had Don Fehr as a guest and Brunt couldn’t wait to gleefully tell Fehr about those Bettman comments……… was not Brunt’s finest moment

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    Too Much6 years ago

    I’m not sure why some people “jumped” on Claire’s comments and seem to suggest that this has devolved into a critique of the column. This has nothing to do with blog vs MSM. It may be presumptuous of me but all I got from Claire’s first comment was the same as what I was thinking: That on this particular piece Mike in (or not) Boston’s reasoning for his opinions wasn’t fully developed enough to make his point. I often agree with MIB but more importantly on the points I don’t agree with him, at least I understand why he has made his points. On this column I just felt the reasoning was weak or not explained well enough.

    One of the nice things about this blog is that it generally does not disintegrate into the nonsense you see on other sites. So give Claire (and me) a break: disagreement doesn’t mean anything other than we have an alternate viewpoint on the point in question.

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    @Mike S
    Agree on the Brunt take. For me it was typical Brunt – ask a good question but don’t offend a guest who might help you in the future. The only people he seems to badger is anyone who dares to criticize the Pan Am Games. Which of course means we can expect to see him involved somehow in these events.

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    My only issue with MIB is when he jumps into issues that he doesn’t have a background in and preaches solutions for things (CHL Union ex 1). If you’re not aware of the situation or have knowledge of the issues, don’t act like you do.

    Outside of that? He does a very good job.

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    Ben: Did you hear what Steve Simmons had to say on The Reporters this past Sunday about the CHL’s educational packages? He ripped the CHL pretty good, which is very credible given that Simmons is a self-proclaimed minor and amateur hockey apologist. Agree with him or not, he certainly isn’t a guy who “doesn’t understand or care about junior hockey” trying to talk about something he doesn’t know.

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    Just want to re-iterate what I said when TSM was looking for us to vote for our favourite MSM from 2014. And I say the only must read for me is TSM and MiB. None of the MSM qualifies for me anymore. I’ll trade their biases for a blogger who needs to explain himself in the comments. And I find TSM and MiB to be quite well written actually. I feel they write more professionally than they need to. And I appreciate it.

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    Not sure if you read my previous comments, but my son played in the league for years and is currently attending university on the CHLs dime, I’d like to think that my first hand knowledge of the program and it’s structure allow me to form a calculated, factual opinion.

    I never saw Steve Simmons in a hockey rink (we are GTHL based, played for a smaller CHL program), so I can’t say what first hand experience he has with the program, but I’m sure he researched it.

    That said Im still perplexed with what that has to do with my comment. My issue with Mike had to do with him preaching for more representation for players based on a single article (he admitted he didn’t have much info on the situation outside of the TSN article).
    He didn’t look into anything and simply took what Unifor said as the gospel. Generally people look at both sides and research before commenting. Him suggesting that my son needs Union representation without looking into unifor’s motives (who continue making factually incorrect statements) was disappointing.

    So my apologies, but my comment stands, making proclamations on something you don’t really understand isn’t the vest idea.

    Your arguing the CHL package isn’t good enough (my first hand experiences suggest otherwise but I’m sure you’ve done your homework), I’m arguing that unless you have knowledgeable of something works, best bot to comment on it until you do.

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    Ben, my intent was simply to bring to your attention that an issue near and dear to your heart just happened to come up yet again, this time in a high-profile national forum, at the same time you wrote about Mike. I was not commenting on your comments on Mike per se; I was more interested in if you heard or saw Simmons’ comments and had anything to share or add. Again, when it comes to the infrastructure of hockey, Simmons is more credible than most. He is a longtime coach, manager and organizer. I don’t always agree with him, but I have no doubt he comes by his opinion on the CHL educational packages with sound research and evidence, if not first-hand experience.

    In a nutshell, I took Simmons’ comments as this: CHL, stop playing games with these packages. Offer them, period. No restrictions.

    Do I agree? I don’t know. But it’s a comment that again calls into question the prose of David Branch, who is continually glossing over issues publicly.

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    Steve Jones – that email address bounced. Send me an email and I’ll reply to you.

    Ben – if you go back you’ll see that the issue of student-athlete labour is one I have been covering for a while. I have mostly written about the NCAA/O’Bannon case and so when Westhead started reporting on the details of the CHL model I was naturally interested. My main opinion so far is that the educational packages seem kind of weak given the profitability of the league. Happy to debate this issue in depth as the CHL story develops.

    Antonio – I can totally see how Cathal would be a draw. He definitely has a unique style. The fishing story was indeed entertaining. I am not a fan of the way he is developing his brand. But that’s just my opinion.

    Too Much – well said.

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    I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after going through some of the posts I realized
    it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

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    Mike – But here’s the issue. The Westhead piece didn’t really do that good of a job in talking about how so many teams are struggling. The team that my son played on a team that had front office people with multiple hats on in order to keep costs down. Everyone looks at London/Kitchener, but never looks at the other teams. If you where to spend time looking at other teams, I think you’d see it.

    You also made no comment (probably because the Westhead piece never commented on it) about the fact that every player in the CHL has an agent, and that agent has a lawyer. Its not like we have no representation, far from it, we have alot. This representation knows a lot more then what Unifor knows. Look at the recent interviews that they have made where they continue to make factually incorrect statements about the league (eg. that the players should share in the $$ that the video games make, the league doesn’t make any money off of it, they just give the info for free, because no one would pay for it). Why not look at that side of it? Respectfully, because you didn’t know. There’s alot of things that are being reported that are incorrect (no increases in stipend for 40 years, we’ve had many), and its frustrating being someone involved seeing those who are not as educated on things comment on it without taking the time to look at the issue. Everyone seems intent on holding the CHL’s feet to the fire, but no one takes the time to ask why Unifor is involving themselves. Its extremely similar to when Mirtle kept reporting that players where behind the original CHLPA push and that looking at who was behind it ‘wasn’t important’, sure looks like it was important.

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    GreyCounty – With all due respect, your posts on other forums seem to suggest that you have a big axe to grind with Mr. Branch, I’m not sure that any answer I can give will not be enough, based on some of your previous interactions.

    We know what we are signing when we sign it, our advisor and his lawyer explained exactly what we where getting, how we would get it and how we would lose it. We agreed. If we now cry post signature, whose fault is it really? Do I think they should be a bigger term? Sure, but I also don’t think it should matter. Its not like we didn’t know what we where agreeing too.

    If you look at the Lawsuits, there is a very common element among them. Players who spent a single year in the league or slightly more who now have to face the fact that their son isn’t what they thought they where. Hockey dad’s don’t do well when they have to face the fact that their son isn’t as good as they think, I’ve seen it first hand. They need someone to blame for their son’s failings, that’s why online message boards exists with dads attacking kids anonymously (no articles on them, online anonymous bullying is a much bigger issue then rich people fighting over money IMO, but ce la vie). Again, no one looking at those motives, its all on the evil’s of the CHL.

    I get there are issues, but talk to any kid who made the league and had smart representation, they loved their time and learned much more then any $$$ could by. Id hate to have that opportunity taken away because a few dads feel the need to place blame, my sons team would not be around if this comes into play, they barely made things work as is. My son never considered himself an employee, nor did his teammates, and the lessons he learned where well worth the experience, in addition to the 4 year degree he will receive because of the CHL’s program.

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    Ben: You raise an interesting point about representation. Each player has an agent (or “family advisor” if he is using the NCAA chip to bargain) and, in turn, each agency has legal staff.

    The same is true, of course, of NHL and other professional players. But they also have a Players’ Association or “union.” Is that too much representation in your mind? Or could CHL players use collective representation, too? Could your son any his teammates have benefited from the across-the-board representation that a Bob Goodenow or Donald Fehr type could offer? I don’t know. Just asking.

    As for David Branch, you’re correct: I am not a huge fan … and have not been for many years. I used to believe every word he’d say publicly; I’ve come to realize he’s as much a pitchman as anything. He’s employed by the owners to do their work, period. He is, in that respect, no better or worse than Gary Bettman. The big difference is that, for whatever reason, many Toronto media types will continually praise Branch as a Messiah while in the next breath absolutely ripping on Bettman. Bettman’s failure in southern markets? Sounds like the OHL’s GTA expansion to me. Funny, though, how Branch is commended while Bettman is crucified. Heck, at one time, Branch even had two teams with the same owner … and little was said about that. Yet when the NHL has team ownership problems, Bettman gets blamed … and rightfully so.

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    We’re waiting away from the original point. My issue was that those in the media, Westhead and by proxy Mike, make alot of assumptions and suggest solutions without asking if we want their help, and without actually looking into the issue. Are there issues, sure, but its not what its made out to be, simple as that. And no one seems interested in holding Unifor’s constant slip ups regarding the structure of the CHL.

    Regarding your question, whats the cost of representation, no one does things for free. Our agent worked with the hopes of future commission, may happen but probably not. Unions won’t work for free, and I don’t think we want a union that doesn’t really seem to know anything about the CHL. I think that most who enter into an informed decision are fine. Look at this quote from Bill Berg re: the lawsuit.

    ‘“It was me that brokered this deal with the IceDogs in good faith. It was important to my wife and I that he get his education. They agreed to a four-year scholarship once he played a single game in the league. We assumed the contract was guaranteed.”

    Any other industry the person who signs the contract without even asking a lawyer is taken to task for their poor decisions and lack of judgement, if I did that in my job, id be fired. In this case, Mike and others place blame on the CHL. I wish i could have a do-over like that. I should by a house and sue the developer after because I didn’t hire a lawyer to look over the legal document…wonder how long that one would last in court.

    I can’t see a union helping in that situation…especially one that has no idea how the leagues work.

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    Hi folks – I’m busy putting out fires at the mouse trap factory this weekend. I’ll be back next week. Have some good interviews coming up.