Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail

 

Good morning sports media fans. It has been a very busy 2017 already and interesting media stories keep coming. Please continue to help me by sending along good and bad reads, interviews, and segments. DMs are always open. If you’re more comfortable sending things anonymously, put whatever it is in a text or image file and use this link to send it to my dropbox. I won’t see any info about you.

 

Last request: if you come here faithfully every Saturday and keep reading things you don’t like, rather than stew about it, consider writing to me to let me know why you think I got it wrong or what I failed to consider.

 

The Work Speaks for Itself

 

The header image this week is from my favourite Toronto photographer, The Star’s Steve Russell. Follow him for a different look at the news. (Note: I can take the photo down if The Star wants).

 

The main topic of discussion this week is the responsible use of anonymous sources. Let’s get one thing out of the way: a principle that says never use anonymous sources is too rigid. Some of the most famous journalism has been the result of publishing information from anonymous sources. This quote from the Society of Professional Journalists sums up the dilemma fairly well:

 

“Anonymous sources are sometimes the only key to unlocking that big story, throwing back the curtain on corruption, fulfilling the journalistic missions of watchdog on the government and informant to the citizens. But sometimes, anonymous sources are the road to the ethical swamp.”

 

Despite decades of case history, there is little agreement about what is and is not acceptable when it comes to anonymous sources. The truth I have discovered in talking with journalists and other members of the media is that what counts as an “ethical swamp” is very much in the eye of the beholder. One person’s swamp is another’s swimming pool. A confounding factor is that, at least when it comes to sports, there is very little oversight of the work of established journalists in 2017. Some of that is due to cutbacks, but some also appears to be a change in standards.

 

NPR’s ethical guidelines on sourcing for its employees states:

 

“While we recognize that some valuable information can only be obtained off the record, it is unfair to air a source’s opinion on a subject of coverage when the source’s identity and motives are shielded from scrutiny.”

 

With that in mind, let’s look at Dave Feschuk’s May 7th story on Kyle Lowry. (The previous times Feschuk wrote about the Raptors were April 26th, April 16th, February 13th, and January 24th. In other words, this is not his regular beat.)

 

Reporters are expected to stick to the facts, and always describe all sides of the issue fairly.  Columnists are paid to have opinions. As a columnist Feshcuk has earned the right to speak in his own voice. This means he doesn’t need to be balanced or fair, unless he wants to. Feschuk certainly has an opinion on the toughness of Kyle Lowry:

 

“Lowry has hit roadblocks and too often curled up in the fetal position when they seemed impassable. He abandoned ship against the Wizards a couple of years ago, when he knew he was no match for the quickness of John Wall.”

 

Dave makes a statement about what Kyle “knew” and connects that to his poor performance as a cause. In Dave’s eyes, Lowry chose to quit in the face of adversity because he is weak. Presumably all of those items are controversial, but Dave is not paid to give the other side; he is paid to give his side.

 

So far, so good. Things go off the rails in the next paragraph:

 

“And there are those around the Air Canada Centre who cast a sceptical eye at his decision to forgo Games 3 and 4 on account of a sprained ankle. One insider wondered: Why did Lowry, who often takes his warmup shots in the Air Canada Centre’s practice court, make a show of shooting on the main court before Games 3 and 4? Nobody’s saying he wasn’t truly injured. Some were suggesting it was telling that he needed to publicly demonstrate the extent of the hurt. “It’s all a show,” said one NBA source. Speaking of Lowry’s over-arching history as a less-than-reliable post-season performer, another source said: “The bright lights get to him.””

 

Let’s unpack this. In the earlier paragraph Feschuk says that when faced with roadblocks Lowry chooses to curl up in the fetal position. Now he is saying that he doesn’t doubt that Lowry is truly injured, yet this statement is bracketed by an anonymous quote expressing skepticism about the extent of the injury, and another bolstering Feschuk’s claim that Lowry wilts under pressure.

 

The implication is this: Feschuk believes Lowry could have played but chose not to because, as with John Wall and the Wizards, he knew the Raps couldn’t beat Lebron & the Cavs. Rather than coming out and saying this, Feschuk puts this in the mouths of anonymous sources. Why would he do that when he is paid to have an opinion and he clearly has one?

 

The “it’s not me who is saying it” trick is part of Feschuk’s portfolio. That was what led to the legendary Kessel quote:  “this guy’s such an idiot.” Media response to that case was mixed, as you’ll recall, with Jeff O’Neill (verified, 94k followers) publicly criticizing Feschuk for asking a bad question, and Damien Cox (unverified, 70k followers) publicly praising him, actually. I covered that incident here, actually.

 

 

The use of anonymous sources to attack a player’s character is also part of the Feschuk playbook. That was the dominant theme of his infamous story on Kessel’s coachability. (That story, like the Lowry one, ran at a time when Star Sports lacked an editor.) Cox, actually, went as far as to call Feschuk’s story “gutless” on the FAN airwaves. This was back in the heady days when Cox was full-time on HNIC and would show up occasionally to write a column for the Star. He is now back to writing 2-3 columns a week for the Star since being promoted by Sportsnet to PTS co-host.

 

And finally, Feschuk’s ethics have been questioned in the past when he enraged Brian Burke & Co by calling James Reimer’s mum to get her to confirm the secret that he had indeed suffered a concussion. (Aside 1: can you imagine how this incident would have been handled by the current Leafs administration? Aside 2: I don’t have a problem with a reporter doing some investigation when a team is being intentionally obfuscatory. I am not sure if families are off-limits in such cases.)

 

Howard Berger wrote a long blog post titled “Feschuk Uncomfortable in Leading Role” about the Reimer controversy. Dave is quoted as saying:

 

“My colleague, Damien Cox, defended the journalistic view as well as anyone possibly could in [Wednesday’s] newspaper. It’s important to me that people know I showed up at [Leafs] practice the day after the story appeared and spoke with James Reimer – face-to-face – for 20 minutes.”

 

The article Feschuk cites is this one. The relevant part of this quote is Dave’s statement that he doesn’t duck subjects when he writes something that angers them. However, by his own admission on TSN1050’s morning show, he wasn’t at Lowry’s end of season press conference where most media had a chance to ask the player about his injuries, his future, and so on. If showing up to face the music is important to him, why wasn’t he there to talk to Lowry?

 

Back to NPR’s ethical guidelines: don’t put your thoughts in the mouths of anonymous sources. This is the ethical swamp out of which it can be hard to climb. If you set it up properly you can find someone to say pretty much anything you want. To test this theory out I ran this tweet:

 

 

Obviously I’m not going to publish any of the responses I received. However if I wanted to attack his credibility without owning it then I have all the cover I need: “it’s not me who is saying it; it’s these anonymous people who think you’re a coward!”

 

In other news, The Star is worried that the public no longer trusts it. They think this is largely the audience’s fault due to failures of “media literacy” and a “significant gap in understanding.” Nevertheless, they have set up a special email — trust@thestar.ca — where you can tell them why you don’t trust them. Their goal is to learn “the various ways people are losing faith with what we do.”

 

Once this column runs I’ll reach out to the Star and ask what oversight there was on Feschuk’s column, whether his editor knows the identity of his sources, and whether they endorse NPR’s ethical principle or if they have some other one they follow. I’ll report back with their reply.

 

Finally, plenty of other people had opinions on Lowry’s toughness and his value to the Raps. Here’s Grange, here’s Simmons. Neither of them use anonymous quotes to make their points. Interestingly Bruce Arthur, also of the Star, includes anonymous quotes but manages to balance them out:

 

“As one league source put it, “The problem with Kyle is he’s short, fat and slow.” As another said, “He’s a hell of a player.””

 

If you want to think more about ethics, don’t forget to read the roundtable discussion we hosted recently with several prominent journalists on the subject of what makes a story newsworthy.

 

Over to you: does Feschuk’s track record make you question his ethics? Is this an instance where anonymous quotes add any value to the story? When do you think anonymous quotes are appropriate?

 

NHL’s Concussion Calamity

 

The other big story this week was the fine print on the NHL’s concussions protocols. These came to light when Sidney Crosby suffered another concussion. We learned:

 

  1. that a player’s history cannot be countenanced when deciding whether to remove a player from the game after a head hit
  2. the in-arena league-employed spotter does not need to be certified and is not allowed to initiate the player’s removal. That must be done by the person watching on TV in the league office
  3. hitting your head into the boards cannot trigger a concussion protocol

 

You couldn’t make up less coherent rules, yet these were apparently the product of wide consultation with the NHLPA. The obvious flaws reinforce the criticism that the NHL is simply not interested in protecting its players, stars and grinders alike, from brain injuries. Unlike the NFL, who are also facing concussion litigation, the NHL continues to double-down on its tolerance, both de facto and de jure, of hits to the head.

 

One of the most curious things in the discussion surrounding Crosby was the number of people who were critical, not of the NHL, but of those criticizing the NHL. Despite the clear gaps in the NHL’s protocols there were loud voices proclaiming that the public was being misinformed by observers.

 

One of those voices was Elliotte Friedman, who appeared on FAN590’s morning show (May 5th, 8am) to speak out against what he described as a “cottage industry” around concussion diagnosis. Here are some of the claims he made:

 

“I hate people who weigh in on other people when they have no idea what they are talking about […] I don’t like “well, I’m an expert on concussions and he shouldn’t be able to skate.””

 

“We are doing all this research into concussions and we don’t know why they affect one person a one way and one person another way. We don’t know the answers. Just a week ago the Globe&Mail came out with a story saying that maybe the worst thing after a concussion is rest […] A lot of us are guessing, we’re trying to learn and that’s why I don’t like the whole cottage industry on guessing should Crosby play or not play.”

 

These comments reminded me a lot of the following statement, courtesy of Gary Bettman.

 

“The confusion in the press about CTE – no doubt further fueled by plaintiffs’ counsel in the NHL litigation – relates to the simple and incontrovertible fact that none of the brain studies conducted to date can, as a matter of accepted scientific methodology, prove anything about causation [.]”

 

The league has been criticized for adopting an “anti-science” stance on the evidence surrounding concussions that is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s. This can be seen in their efforts to undermine the research being done on CTE. You might also recall the comments by Don Cherry attacking Dr. Charles Tator when the medical knowledge around concussions began to come together.

 

I reached out to Elliotte to clarify whether when he says “we don’t know” he means the same thing as Gary. Here’s his statement:

 

“I would never downplay the work [linking concussions to CTE] because I think it is very legitimate.  What I don’t like is people who don’t know a situation sitting miles away saying Sidney Crosby shouldn’t be allowed to play. I do believe in the science. It’s just not as simple as everyone makes it out to be.”

 

That helps. As a casual observer I have not seen the kind of armchair expertise to which Friedman is reacting, but I believe him that it is out there.

 

My own opinion is, given that we don’t know — that, as Elliotte put it on HNIC, we are in the “infancy” of understanding the causal mechanisms at work — we should adopt a cautionary approach. In light of how much we don’t know, if we had to err on one side then I would opt for the side of keeping the player out. As an analogy, if my mechanic tells me he doesn’t know if my brakes will work, but that he also doesn’t know that they won’t work, I am going to wait until we know for certain that they are safe before driving on the DVP. When I hear people criticizing those who endorse keeping a player out longer I am inclined to ask what good this serves.

 

Another point Elliotte made is that the Penguins are under so much scrutiny now versus 6 years ago when they botched the handling of Crosby’s previous concussions. Based on what other hockey writers say, I am not convinced. We know that players will lie to coaches and trainers.

 

“Players lie to trainers, as Dennis Wideman did a year ago in Calgary when he would not leave the ice after cross checking linesman Don Henderson, then made the fact that he was concussed the primary pillar of his defence. Coaches, history tells us, are more than happy to agree with their player, so adverse are they to having a short bench in times of battle.”

 

That’s from Mark Spector‘s piece on the McDavid cautionary removal last year. The piece continues:

 

“[H]ere is Oilers winger Pat Maroon’s take: “This is a man’s game, […] People are going to get hit, get high-sticked. They’re going to go through the middle and get hit.” […] Of course, many of the retired players who have joined class action lawsuits seeking retribution for varying levels of brain injury might have held the same attitude as Maroon, back when they played. Even if they hold on to those beliefs, you can count on the families of middle-aged men suffering from early onset dementia not clinging so firmly to that tough guy stance.”

 

When there is a judgment call to be made about keeping a star player in a playoff game, the league and teams share an interest in erring on the side of getting the player back on the ice. The player’s ‘current’ self shares that interest, while his ‘future’ self does not. In light of this I am less trusting of the league’s ability to make a “better safe than sorry” decision regarding the player’s long term health, especially in light of their track record. Like other armchair experts, I don’t have a solution beyond changing the defaults to be more strongly in the direction of player safety. I don’t think that should be a controversial stance.

 

The most entertaining thing to come out of this discussion was Scott Wheeler (Athletic/PPP), who has written at length about concussions, getting tag-teamed by the father-son McKenzie combo. Few people in the world can claim that distinction.

 

 

Over to you: is the NHL doing the best they can to protect players from brain injuries? Should there be more independent medical presence at rinks? Who are the armchair experts and what are their motives?

 

Quick Hits

 

Jobs! Check out some of the positions available at Sportsnet Vancouver. Predictions on how many of these jobs are already filled by internal candidates? My guess is most of them but good luck to the applicants. Here’s hoping for some outside the box hires.

 

If you have time, this very long read on the sordid history of the Expos sale is worth every minute. I couldn’t find a single page version of the story, so be warned that this one is paginated.

 

This is a little old, but I wonder how many consumers care about Rogers and Bell raising rates for bars that show sports. I do. Big corporate bars can easily afford it but local bars might not. This is another case of squeezing your existing customers at a time when many are questioning the value of cable sports.

 

Also old news, but I was raised on Bob McCown’s views when it comes to public money for private arenas. Gary trying to monorail Calgary into funding a new development by riling up the rivalry with Shelbyville is pretty transparent.

 

Low Hanging Fruit

 

  • Is there a better athlete interview than PK Subban? Incredibly articulate and good-natured. Great stuff on PTS (May 9, 6pm). He handled the tough questions very well. Just an all around great interview.

 

  • Noodles thinks there’s nothing wrong with giving someone with a disability a related nickname (e.g. peg-leg) because, according to Jamie, we all have things that are not great about us that others could pick on.

 

  • Can we please try to refrain from using the words “outrage” and “hysteria” to describe views with which we disagree? All it does is send a clear signal to the audience that you’ve already dismissed the opinion you’re about the discuss and aren’t going to give it a fair hearing. See, for example.

 

  • I am trying to listen to a wider array of podcasts these days so I thought I would check out what has become of Tim&Sid. Here’s how they are promoting their show to potential listeners:

 

  • Why would I bother downloading if you can’t be bothered to tell me what the episodes are about? In a thriving age of podcasting it is notable how many shows can’t handle the basics.

 

  • Speaking of Sportsnet’s very expensive network stars, they appeared in my twitter feed as a promoted tweet this week. Molson sends people by helicopter to deserted lakes in the arctic to play hockey. Wiser’s pays Tim&Sid to narrate highlights of a men’s beer league team.

 

 

  • Was anyone else expecting Tim&Sid to bust through the door like Kool-Aid man at the dudefest? I can’t believe they sent a camera crew up to film these guys reacting to something so lame. Just an awful attempt at buzz marketing.

 

  • Dirk Hayhurst has joined the Sick Not Weak project. That’s cool.

 

 


 

thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

photo credit: The Star

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 58
  • comment-avatar
    Mario 5 months

    Great article MIB and thanks. I not being around players and just your average fan think people around the game watching every day have a much better understanding what a Crosby goes through after a hit to the head. Them not being medical doctors have only there opinion . And I respect it at just that.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 5 months

    Thanks for the great link to the Expos story. Still good material to read after all these years.

    Cox will never change and whatever “humbleness” he showed after his HNIC demotion; has long since disappeared.

  • comment-avatar
    Brian 5 months

    I don’t care about concussions in sports. I certainly don’t want to listen to people talking about concussions on radio. These guys have no clue. You mean to tell me that the Overdrive guys are going to enlighten me on concussions? Just touch on it and move on. If Sydney Crosby is done playing due to a concussion, he’s done. He made a choice. And his union fought for him to make that choice. The concussion takes are always the same. I advance the podcast or change stations during concussion chatter. It’s useless.

    Here are some topics that never get coverage:

    Agents. Who represents who? (WHY DON’T WE KNOW THIS BASIC STUFF?) How many from said agency are on a given team? Which good/bad agents have a history with a given GM? (Especially helpful round about July 1 when FAs are seeking homes in NHL/NBA) Who are the licensed agents? Did any lose their license? Who are the power broker agents? What are some trends among recent contracts? How do comparables work? What are some of the strategies the NHLPA uses to boost contracts? What is the NHLPA’s position on the Lupul, Robidas contracts in Toronto? Are players leaving a given agency more than others? Which agents get their players the most money vs the comparables? Which GM waits the longest to sign players?

    Cap: What are the cap rules? No one seems to actually know how caps work. Which jurisdictions provide the best tax scenario for athletes? Which is the worst? What would exactly happen if the NHL cap went DOWN by $5 million? Because the world of sports leagues being heavily subsidized by cable co’s is coming to an end. Most kids don’t care like their parents do and can’t afford $100/month even if they did.

    More anonymous player/GM polls: Worst NHL city to play in? Best? Best player? Best coach? Most over-rated? In fact this could be a large annual survey with several questions by Sportsnet or TSN. Great fodder for TV and Radio, especially during summer months.

    Simplified Fancy Stats: Let’s have more people talk about these things that can properly explain them. Let’s educate people properly on the value of these numbers. Numbers make for terrible radio but smart talk about numbers and how these numbers affect game outcomes could be interesting, especially if someone on the other side can properly argue against them.

    Talk radio can go places it has not gone before. It just never happens in this market.

  • comment-avatar
    MjwW 5 months

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention how big of a sourpuss Cox was on PTS roundtable yesterday. He got very upset when McCown and Shannon both decided that it’s far too early to declare the Jays dead and to start talking about trading players like Donaldson. How did the baby react? He just went silent for the entire segment and made a few pissbaby comments about how McCown and Shannon were bad for sportsradio if they weren’t prepared to declare a baseball season futile in mid-May…and look what the Jays have done, 3 series wins in a row.

    And people think he’s changed? The dude needs to get fired again, maybe that will finally get him to change.

  • comment-avatar
    Bob Canuck 5 months

    I agree with Mike’s criticisms of Feschuk’s Lowry article. I will add to his comments by quoting from the ethics guidelines published by The Canadian Association of Journalists:

    “We do not allow anonymous sources to take cheap shots at individuals or organizations.”

    “We normally identify sources of information. But we may use unnamed sources when there is a clear and pressing reason to protect anonymity, the material gained from the confidential source is of strong public interest, and there is no other reasonable way to obtain the information. When this happens, we explain the need for anonymity.”

    “When we do use unnamed sources we identify them as accurately as possible by affiliation or status.”

    I think the Feschuk piece fails on all points.

    The opinions of the two sources are cheap shots: “It’s all a show” and “The bright lights get to him”. Feschuk should not have used those quotes because those sources have the shield of anonymity to make personal comments; they did not add information but merely took shots from their veil of safety. Finally, if you are going to use unnamed sources, Feschuk should have provided more information without revealing their identities. The sources could be scouts, former coaches, or ushers. We have no way to assess the motivations, biases, expertise, etc. of the sources.

  • comment-avatar
    Brad McLea 5 months

    Your own snarky remarks about concussion protocols and the cynicism of Wheeler’s comments that you embedded is the exact stuff that Friedman is talking about. That is armchair doctor syndrome to a tee.

  • comment-avatar
    Steve in Waterloo 4 months

    “Shocked and dismayed” – two most over used words in this politically correct era.
    Just because you don’t agree….

  • comment-avatar
    Tighthead 4 months

    Mackowycz seems to be hanging out with Strombo Sunday nights.

  • comment-avatar
    Justin 4 months

    Anyone catch the first half-hour of Overdrive on Friday? I love the show, but Jonas Siegel filling in for Noodles was painful to listen to. O’Dog was clearly in a bad mood and kept barking at Siegel for “terrible takes” and you could tell it was genuine anger. It made for compelling radio but for all the wrong reasons. Like a car crash you can’t take your eyes off of. Siegel has awful chemistry with O’Dog and Hayes, not to mention he’s very plainspoken and bland on air. I find him to be an above average writer for CP who I enjoy reading, but TSN really needs a new fill-in host for that show. With all the talent at TSN, how is there no else around?

    In the like manner, with the massive stable of great hockey people employed at TSN, it’s hard to believe the current Leafs Lunch crew is all they could come up with. TSN needs to nuke Leafs Lunch. Tear it down and start over. The show needs a massive reset with all new people in the Fall after a summer break, it’s just unlistenable.

  • comment-avatar
    cirroc 4 months

    @Justin

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure if it fell within the same hour, but Poulin came on the show as well and took Siegel to task for his ridiculous use of underlying stats to diminish the Ducks’ run. I usually just turn it off when Jonas is on. He’s that bad. You can tell the other guys have disdain for his new age bullcrap and it makes for subpar radio.

    So sick of these guys that have never held a stick in their lives trying to manipulate numbers to try and level the playing field when talking hockey.

  • comment-avatar
    Jbg 4 months

    I don’t understand why tsn or sportsnet have not developed a half hour show to explain the significance of analytics and how and why teams use it. There is a big enough interest for people that want to know more about analytics and it would also help explain to people who just can’t comprehend and think its stupid.
    The key is to show how it helps make decisions and offer comparables.

  • comment-avatar
    Jonathan Giggs 4 months

    I agree with Bob Canuck’s well-reasoned comments regarding the responsible use of anonymous sources in the case of the Dave Feschuk article.

    I note too the irony of an anonymous blogger with anonymous commenters having such a discussion.

  • comment-avatar
    Cirroc 4 months

    @jbg

    Not sure if you’re referring to me, but I comprehend analytics just fine. As usual it’s not the numbers themselves that annoy me, it’s the people presenting them. Of course stats have a place in sports, they always have, but if ALL you know about the game is numbers based I have a hard time taking you seriously. Have a plumber or electrician to your house and tell them you’ve crunched the numbers and know what the problem is and see what kind of response you get.

    Once again, I have no problem with the stats themselves, just the folks that manipulate them to serve their agenda ie the Martin Marincin fiasco. Apparently this guy is so good that he can’t even get in the lineup regularly. I guess the numbers guys are right and the Stanley Cup and Olympic winning coach is wrong. 🤔

  • comment-avatar
    Pete 4 months

    As much as I dislike Feschuk and think he’s a weenie, out of all the things he’s said and done, I really didn’t find him calling Reimer’s mom to be totally out of bounds.

    It’s been alluded to above, but I can’t believe there is someone I dislike even more than Noodles on the radio, and that’s Siegel. Overdrive seriously can’t do any better than him? Besides his massive love affair with advanced stats that is grating, he does not present any compelling arguments. I swear, Jeff O’Neill sounds like he wants to stuff him in a locker.

    And touching on another point above by MjwW, Cox has been beating the drum that the Jays were done and they should blow it up. He started a point, when I think Shulman was on a couple weeks ago, by saying, “Even if the Jays get back in it, which they won’t…” Well well well…now all of a sudden they are in the mix clustered together with every other team with the season not even a quarter of the way done. I’m curious to see if he weasels his way out of it, or his smug and pompous demeanour will not allow him to at least retract on his stance in the slightest.

  • comment-avatar
    Drumanchor 4 months

    @ Bob Canuck

    Very well articulated points and I agree wholeheartedly.

    Personally, sometimes I find the distain for “unnamed sources” a littler bit holier-than-thou. We see and here it every day. From hard, trusted news to the sports pages. If the source is not overly bashing someone or some organization, what is the big deal? People don’t seem to have a problem with Darren Dreger or Elliotte Freidman quoting their anonymous insiders, but if a writer or broadcaster they don’t like says something they equally don’t like about a team or player they DO like, well…. It’s pretty hard to have it both ways.

    Like most things in life, everything is not black and white. There is a lot of grey out there and with the proper critical thinking, we generally realize that most of these sources are just providing information that we feel is, likely, true anyway.

  • comment-avatar

    Re: Concussions – Bob McKenzie also took the angle that the teams/players/medical staff know more about the players health than we do as google Dr’s on Naylor and Landsberg earlier this week. It was nice to hear him knock those two down a few pegs. Of course Landsberg failed to get it and was back on his soap box five minutes later. The players get paid to play. They take greater risks than the rest of us might but do so with the support of their own Dr’s. While the leagues protocols leave a lot to be desired they are a step in the right direction. It is unfortunate that everyone with a microphone or keyboard instantly becomes an expert the minute someone bangs their head. But as Bob M. said – no one seemed to care about Connor Shery returning so quickly, having suffered a concussion in the same game as Sid.

    Re: Feschuk – Lowry is soft. Agreed. Using anonymous sources are ok from time to time/depending on the situation. That being said…if you start looking at the material on a larger scale it does look like Feschuk has a habit of using it to protect himself a bit. We’ll see what editor has to say. Personally I like his work but I wouldn’t like to find out he’s been less than forthright in his writing style.

  • comment-avatar

    @Justin

    I agree with you about OverDrive………..when a fill-in host is needed (which is quite often on that show) it would be a perfect opportunity to bring in someone who can talk about many different sports, especially since OverDrive is supposed to be more than just a hockey show

    Unfortunately when they bring in a fill-in host they feel the need to use the same mediocre hockey guys (Siegel, Button, Poulin, etc) that they used when they were Leafs Lunch

  • comment-avatar
    Jbg 4 months

    @cirroc
    No was more in reference to my grandfather in law. Who is as anti European hockey player as why analytics could have value.
    I just think a non biased show on the evolving nature of analytics and how and why they are used would be helpful to the general viewing public. I have intrwt in antics but I can’t instantly relate hockey analytic numbers as easily as baseball for example.
    If I read it here a baseball number I often can think I wonder what his numbers in other areas are that would be important to know.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 4 months

    @ Pete re: Cox

    At the 5:14 pm mark during PTS, he denies ever having called for the Jays to do a teardown and dismantle the roster. The man is a pathological liar!

  • comment-avatar

    Going to tackle two subjects (you always produce so many talking points Mike that I find myself wishing I had the ability to tackle them all)

    The NHL’s concussion problem: They, like the NFL, see the players as nothing more than disposable pieces on the chessboard that is professional sports. The players union for whatever reason also fails to realize and advocate for player safety including from the players themselves who have the “tough guy” mentality clouding their future vision. Until rules are established by a neutral third party with medical training on concussions and CTE and enforced then both the players and the league are culpable for the damage that concussions cause.

    Regarding Bell & Sportsnet charging bars more for their service, here I must disagree as the bars use their product to draw people in (and presumably away from their home TV) skewing ratings and advertising numbers, why should Bell/Sportsnet take that hit?

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    Darren 4 months

    @Rick – I politely disagree with both you and Bob McKenzie.
    He says that people should mind their business because the NHL has the best medical minds working on this, caring for players.
    Trouble is that that has been the league’s consistent line – and it has been proven to be BS.
    The Penguins were saying that Crosby in 2011 had state of the art medical care and should not be second guessed for their handling of his concussions. Oops.

    Same year, 2011, you still had teams put players back on the ice when they could barely walk, after giving them smelling salts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZXGJYz8GMo

    And in this year, consider the players who have NOT gone through concussion protocol.
    Chicago’s Crawford takes shot in the mask:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwiB68TdR5A

    Zach Werenski:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6NHWyDAKRM

    Then there’s the Leafs’ Andersen and Crosby….
    So to say others should butt out and trust the professionals? The same professionals who say concussion protocol should not be followed when players smash their heads into the boards. Because in the NHL’s world, boards cannot be a “mechanism” of injury in the same way as the ice can.
    The NHL is on the wrong side of history on this.

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    Kenny 4 months

    @ Brian I agree completely. I could not be more disinterested in the concussion topic. I have always felt that athletes are grown adults and should be allowed to make their own decisions. If Crosby felt like he could and wanted to play that is his choice. At this point in time, athletes are aware of the risks they are taking. It is not up to me or you to decide if a specific athlete should or should not take that risk.

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    Fred Rowan 4 months

    Tweet

    simmonssteve: You’re talking credibility and you hide behind a pseudonym? Isn’t that convenient? Who are you? What’s your name? twitter.com/mikeinboston/s…

    Glad to see Steve Simmons take this uppity nobody down a peg. Can you say ownage! That’s why Simmons is and will always be the king of Toronto sports media. I’m willing to bet the rest of the Toronto media think this site is pathetic and never read it.

    Let’s face it, unless you are willing to use your real name, no one should have to listen to what you think. How can you have an intelligent comment unless people can look up where you work and what you look like.

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    Mike V 4 months

    Wow, ad hominem attacks directed at a blogger from an entitled member of the media. Never seen that before. Sick Burn! That’s so much better than actually engaging in the discussion about credibility (and potentially bringing light to your own abhorrent lack of it).

    Simmons is and will always be a complete hot-dogging clown. He’s the perfect sports face for the disintegrating flaming pile of shit called PostMedia.

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    Liberty Village Bob 4 months

    @Justin – yeah, that was something else with O’DOG and Siegel. The weirdest part was Siegel kept baiting Jeff. Clearly some genuine dislike there. But Siegel is part of the white guy hockey fraternity so it doesn’t matter how bland he is, TSN will keep putting him on the air.

    Seriously …. name the last hockey guy to get fired for being not very good who hasn’t popped right back up. Mike Johnson doesn’t count because [redacted]. Healy was fired but is still regularly on 590.

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    Liberty Village Bob 4 months

    I’ll add — anonymous sources for facts are fine but anon sources for opinions are not. Feshuk’s sources are just giving opinions. That doesn’t make them “sources” in any interesting sense.

    “Sources tell me some people think Feschuk is a tool.”

    (the source is my mailman)

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    Top link clicks report:

    #1 = The Expos story
    #2 = Cox’s violence hysteria story

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    The NHL is into the third round of the playoffs and here are the scintillating options we had on the noon hockey shows in Toronto yesterday:

    590………..Millard (host) and Todd Hlushko (co-host)

    1050……….Petrillo (host) and Mark Roe (co-host)

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    Anthony 4 months

    @Paul G

    Continue to ask this question to all those who continue to complain, day after day, about the same things, over and over.

    If your unhappy with what TSN, 590, or whoever are offering you, why are you listening. Offering play by play of all the things you hate on Cox makes me wonder that, why listen if you hate so much? Life is to short.

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    Paul G. 4 months

    @ Anthony

    I continue to listen because I am a long-time fan Of McCown’s going back to his “Business of Sports” days. Furthermore, I still enjoy the format of Prime Time Sports and its varied guest lists.

    My agreeing with another listener about a particular co-host on a certain issue does not take away my right to listen to the rest of a three hour broadcast.

    I also do not post a “regular play by play” of anything to this board.

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    yaz 4 months

    I agree with Paul G – I like the varied guests on PTS and the sports business talk is great. But anyone else catch Shannon’s engaging dialog to hook listeners in the May 9th, 4 PM hour last week? Talking about how it was The Beatles vs the Dave Clark Five and you had to choose who you liked on The Ed Sullivan show? Grange came in on a call and Shannon asked him if remembered the Beatles vs the Stones? ‘Ahhh, no.’ The Dave Clark Five ( or DC5 for you hipsters, thank-you Wikipedia) vs the Beatles was about 1964: fifty three years ago. To put that into context, it would be the equivalent of Bob talking about music from 1936 if he did the same when he started in 1989. You think the PD would have kicked the door down to get Bob to stop yakking about how much he loved 1936’s Goody Goody by Benny Goodman or Pennies From Heaven by Bing Crosby? Same should apply to any future Dave Clark Five talk today. I had heard the name before, perhaps as part of some trivia game, but couldn’t pick one guy from the DC5 out of a police lineup.

    On one side of the dial is Bob with the Dave Clark Five and his Ed Sullivan impression, the other side is the Overdrive gang with their Brazzers and ‘barplay.’ I dislike both of those outliers. With the Leafs on the front edge of a ten year tide, it is fine for Overdrive to draw new listeners to radio and not try to draw a nonagenarian fan of PTS who has been listening to Bob for 25 years. The Overdrive hockey talk is the best hockey talk in the city. They know their stuff and they’re passionate about it. Bob today said he isn’t passionate about any sport – not a big surprise. Overdrive is more of a ‘show’ than any other show in this market. Sure, it isn’t about play on the field, but where is it more fun and engaging to hear chatter about the Lavar Ball gong-show, or the Gisele Bundchen / Tom Brady concussion story.

    The TSN drive slot had a great generalist: Naylor. So good he got canned. Was the better generalist show delivering better Masai Ujuri closing presser talk with McCown/Shannon/Grange than Overdrive? Debatable. I liked the McLaughlin Group but couldn’t listen to it three hours a day. Overdrive shouldn’t try to be PTS anymore than PTS should try to be Overdrive. They’re different shows with different demographics. When Bob retires, there will be people that switch to Overdrive, the rest will likely stop listening to radio all together. ‘PTS with Brunt and Cox!’ would last about 3 months. When it comes to PTS vs Overdrive, it isn’t a generation gap, it’s a canyon. And I think Noodles has spent more time in Vegas than Bob.

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    Anthony 4 months

    @Paul

    Not suggesting that it takes away your right to listen, this is a free world, you can do whatever you want, and post whatever you want, however if you dislike something so much to come on here and complain, at what point do you change your listening patterns?

    Not based on yourself, but there are (or where) 5/6 posters on here who for months would routinely complain, be it about ‘bias’ or ‘talent’ or ‘dislike’, yet they continued to listen, day in and day out. I am always curious why, with so many options out there, do people actively choose to listen to something then come on here to complain about it. If I hear something I dislike, I generally don’t run on here to complain, i just turn it off.

    Just curious on the physiology of it all.

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    yaz 4 months

    @anthony We love sports radio. The show you are talking about is a sports radio program. We listen to little else. When a small percentage of a show goes off-side? We talk about it to make them aware in hope of change. And the context of this website is discussing sports media. No physiology involved. There are not so many options out there.

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    For comparison, the NBA gave Rondo a 1 game suspension for calling a gay referee (who wasn’t yet out to the league) a faggot.

    The Jays, not MLB, suspended Escobar for 3 games for wearing a gay slur on his eye black. Here’s C-Kelly’s analysis. Here’s Bruce Arthur. And here’s the world’s most awkward press conference.

    It will be interesting to see how the Jays and MLB handle the Pillar incident. It’s unclear in the Escobar case whether MLB would have suspended him if the Jays hadn’t.

    Yunel

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    Original Mitch 4 months

    While I admit I dislike the Sportsnet baseball crew’s sycophantic ways towards the Blue Jays, I trust they will handle the Pillar-thing with straight-forwardness. They know full-well, as popular a player as Pillar, he could easily be traded tomorrow and life goes on. Their careers and integrity is bigger than one blue jay and I hope they rip him a new one as deserved. Again, full disclosure, I like Pillar’s road to the show, but I do not like diving on routine fly balls to make the highlight reels.

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    Anthony 4 months

    @Yaz

    This week I listened to roughly 30 hours of audio, with about 5/6 of it generated from Toronto. There are more choices than ever before, the ‘there isn’t any options’ comment is incorrect.

    Regarding comments, I do agree to an extent, some people just like to make odd comments, but when comments are weekly/biweekly filled with aggression or talking about how awful a program is, I have to ask why are they still listening. If its been months of complaints, at what point do you simply walk away. Why surround yourself with anger? Why be that type of person? I get that hate listening is a thing (I can’t believe he just said that, I have to run to post about how much I hate it online), I just don’t understand it.

    There are 3/4 podcasts that I use to listen to, however after a while I started to dislike them, so guess what, I simply moved onto another option. There are easily thousands of hours of audio produced daily, why surround yourself with things that aggravate you, unless you enjoy hate listening?

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    Curt 4 months

    @ Anthony – Virtually all of your posts are complaints about people who are critical of sports media personalities – on a blog that is largely about being critical of sports media personalities. I don’t know why this bothers you so much and why you constantly feel that you have to be the hall monitor here, but it’s tedious. If you dislike seeing critical comments so much, then maybe you should take your own advice and move on, you know? Anyway, I’m not going to get into a back and forth here, just giving my two cents and moving on. Cheers.

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    Tighthead 4 months

    Jamie Campbell will take the lead on the Pillar issue. He is obviously very on top of these issues, realizing last October that the Indians’ symbol, which has existed his entire life, was offensive.

    I am sure that was in no way partisanship that motivated his actions, so expect him to be very outspoken on Pillar.

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    Omar 4 months

    Curt 4 hours
    @ Anthony – Virtually all of your posts are complaints about people who are critical of sports media personalities – on a blog that is largely about being critical of sports media personalities. I don’t know why this bothers you so much and why you constantly feel that you have to be the hall monitor here, but it’s tedious. If you dislike seeing critical comments so much, then maybe you should take your own advice and move on, you know? Anyway, I’m not going to get into a back and forth here, just giving my two cents and moving on. Cheers.

    Bang on. There used to be a poster by the name of Rob J who once posted here. I didn’t always agree with him but enjoyed his take on things. He no longer posts here because unofficial moderators drove him out. Too bad. Variety is the spice of life.

  • comment-avatar
    Anthony 4 months

    @Curt

    I don’t think I’ve posted in a month and a half on here? Im not sure how anyone can ‘generalize’ about my posts if that is the case. So yes, I don’t really read here anymore.

    3/4 years ago I always posted thoughts about minorities in media, ‘dream lineups’, commented on what was presented by MIB, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case here anymore, its somewhat turned into a complain board, not a debate/commentary board. Not as bad as it was 18 months ago, but still disappointing.

    One poster made a comment that I was curious about, if that’s not allowed, what does that say about this board? I’m honestly curious about the need to post negative complaints over and over again, simple as that. I don’t understand that mentality and want to learn more about those who do so. Why is that an issue?

  • comment-avatar

    Since people seem to be done discussing the main item from this column now seems as good a time as any to talk about moderation policies. I won’t speak for Jonah since we each moderate our own posts. If you have issues with him, take it up with him.

    The only comments I have ever deleted fit into one of two categories: 1) personal attacks against either another commenter or a media member, 2) comments that might expose the site to defamation action. Obviously it’s hard to give a precise definition of what constitutes a personal attack, but I generally follow the rule about getting tossed when arguing with an umpire: “that’s an idiotic call” is OK; “you’re an idiot” is not.

    A few more points:

    • Venting every now and then is good. We all need to voice frustration at times.
    • Disagreement is also good: I enjoy writing because I like hearing what other people think and why they think it.
    • Be the change you want to see: speak up more if you have something to say!
    • If you find yourself saying the same thing a lot here, consider switching it up. It’s a small community.
    • Ignoring bad comments helps them go away; engaging bad comments helps extend their lifespan.
    • Keep in mind that many bad comments here are from people in the media — Jeff Blair, probably — trying to troll readers as a way of discrediting the site.

    If you have any questions about moderation, feel free to email me. If you want to complain that your comment was deleted, be prepared to back it up. I have records of every comment I have deleted.

  • comment-avatar
    Jennifer 4 months

    Mike,

    I can honestly say that I do not post on here because of the handful of posters who attack everything and feel the need to rip everything Toronto media. It’s really tiring and takes the fun out of sports media and what I believe you are trying to accomplish here.

    Just a comment, hopefully I don’t get taken to task for it, but it’s true, I wish there was more to this site then just complaints and frustration every week, it should be more than that.

  • comment-avatar
    Original Mitch 4 months

    @tighthead

    Comment of the year! lol

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    yaz 4 months

    @anthony I didn’t qualify my statement ‘There are not so many options out there.’. I prefer Toronto-centric sports talk so my options are one of two stations from 530 AM – 7 PM. I know there are other shows after 7 but I’m not interested. If Auston Matthews got traded tomorrow, it likely wouldn’t get discussed other than an aside on PTI, Jay Mohr, Dan Patrick or The Dan Le Batard show. A Matthews trade would obviously dominate every hour of every Toronto radio show the next days and weeks and I’d listen to all of it. I’m not a fan of the NFL/NBA nor College football/basketballl, and they tend to dominate U.S. Pods. There are other Canadian Pods, and some U.S. hockey Pods ( I like the Roenick Pod ) but again, I prefer Toronto-centric.

    I did lambaste the Mike Richards show here a few years ago in a long post then didn’t complain about it much again. But I still tuned in when he had a good interview subject or ‘Insider’ because it was Toronto content. I think we listen to the same amount of audio per week: 30-40 hours. Late at night I prefer longer format Pods that interview people at length and take you on a journey – most are not about sports at all and are not Toronto-centric. And hate listening is a thing as you said, just ask Howard Stern, not sure how much it is in Toronto but I’m sure it exists.

  • comment-avatar

    Sadly I didn’t get home until around 5:30 or so and wasn’t able to listen to PTS today until then. Not sure whether Bob commented on the Pillar comment, apology and suspension, but would have been curious to see his comments on the whole thing.

    Personally, I was disappointed in Pillar’s choice of vocabulary (there are many, many other words/terms he could have used to get his displeasure across) but thought that at least he owned his mistake, that the Jays by getting in front of this by suspending him themselves showed more leadership than MLB did.

    Whether the two games is enough, is another debate.

  • comment-avatar
    Anthony 4 months

    @Yaz

    I don’t listen to live radio, ever. That way if there is a guest or topic that I have zero interest in, I don’t have to listen. Listening on delay (much like what we do with TV shows) offers the ability to be selective with guests, topics etc and avoid those who i dislike. If there’s a trade, there usually are 3/4 different sport/team specific podcasts that would release a dialog fairly quickly. I like having control over who I listen to and what I listen too, as opposed to others, I simply pass on who I dislike, not hate listen.

    I have brought up hate listening often with posters when I was a regular poster months back, I would see the same people, over and over, rip or complain about everything from hosts, guests and production. It wasn’t ‘I dislike this guest’, it was everything. Which pivots to my point, if posters (not anyone who has posted on here yet) truly dislike something to the point where they open a website and feel the need to complain about many different aspects of the program, many times a month, why are they listening? Im simply trying to figure out why some on here love to post how bad everything is. If they dislike it so much that they cannot find positives in them, why are they listening? Why surround themselves with things that make them unhappy? Why complain every month?

    I’m trying to understand the thought process behind this, simple as that, hence why I ask the question. I asked it again after a bit of a break and was told by Curt to go away (interesting response to a simple question). All am seeking is understanding, simple as that, I’m trying to get the ‘hate listen and complain’ mentality that some have on here. What’s so bad about that?

  • comment-avatar
    Cirroc 4 months

    @Anthony

    Very interesting post. Obviously it’s natural to vent but you’re right, if you really dislike something, why would you partake in it? My job has me in and out of my truck all day so I only catch up to 20 minutes at a time of any given show, but if it’s something that doesn’t interest me, I’ll just switch over to music no harm, no foul.

    That said, when a show makes a significant change, ie Patrick being ousted from LL, there’s nothing wrong with voicing your feelings on the change I suppose.

  • comment-avatar
    Original Mitch 4 months

    I disagree with people saying “turn it off if you don’t like it”. While each radio host is subjective in taste, Toronto is a mega city and deserves to have the cream of the crop in hosts/anchors/writers. Every single person in Canadian broadcasting should aim for TO, like every American Broadcaster aims for LA/NEW YORK. TO radio/TV is the highest form of sports broadcasting in this Country and should be represented with the absolute best.
    When TSN 1050 acts like a Mickey Mouse Operation, it deserves to be called out. No offense to stations in Winnipeg or Ottawa, but those are small markets and mistakes/bad hosts could be tolerated to an extent. Not in Toronto. When Rogers puts a baffoon like Reid on tv/radio, they deserved the complaints. Its that simple.
    Again, hosts/anchors are subjective, sure, but doesn’t mean we can’t complain when one of them stinks.

    People complain about hosts/anchors because they want better. And considering its Toronto, they deserve it.
    Keep up the good work everybody!

  • comment-avatar
    Gary M 4 months

    Huge fan of Elliotte Friedman, but the fact is any Rogers employee has a conflict of interest the second they open their mouth on this issue. Rogers paid massive money to show hockey stars. They don’t want the biggest of them to retire.

  • comment-avatar
    Anthony 4 months

    @Original Mitch

    Honest, thoughtful and unique criticism is no doubt valuable to any business. Knowing what your customers think and what they feel you need to improve on is invaluable.

    That said, there is a difference between criticism and mindless complaining. Thats what Im getting at and trying to understand. Its fine to suggest that a segment didn’t work of the chemistry between two hosts isn’t great, that’s what MIB and TSM do very well. However I would suggest that what a handful of posters do on here is not that. For some odd reason, they will listen to a radio station, be it the fan or TSN Radio, and come on here right away and complain, offering the same old boring complaints week in and week out. That’s not feedback, that’s someone who wants to hate. Im trying to get the mentality of those who ‘need to hate’ or ‘need to complain’. Is it just how they are? Is it politically motivated? Are they attempting to tear down competition? Are they just unhappy people? What is the motivation to listen to something that you hate, week in week out, when there are hours upon hours of options out there for anyone. I disliked Mike RIchards, I didn’t listen after 2 episodes, didn’t get a peep out of me after my initial thoughts. Im not an Andrew Walker guy. I don’t get hate listening or listening to something just so that I can come on a message board and complain about it. Whats the motivation?

    Don’t confused criticism with complaining, they are two very different things.

  • comment-avatar

    Bob McCown is officially a senior citizen………today (May 21) is his 65th birthday

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    Cowboyskanuck 4 months

    And at 65 he’s still the measuring stick in radio, not only in Toronto, but the country.

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    Too Much 4 months

    So two or three days ago TSM says, “article coming tomorrow” and here we are still waiting. Don’t say those things if you aren’t going to follow through.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 4 months

    @ Too Much

    I’ve been wondering about this myself.

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    This week’s edition of Twitter Name Calling is brought to you by Ken Campbell (Hockey News) and Greg Wyshynski (Yahoo Puck Daddy)

    https://twitter.com/THNKenCampbell/status/867055259994271745

  • comment-avatar
    Pete 4 months

    The other day McCown and Cox were discussing the Subban trade, and then Damien went “there”, suggesting that P.K. being black may have been an issue. He went on a 1-minute spiel discussing it. When he was done, Bob asked him if he thinks that was a reason why Montreal traded him, in which Damien replied with “no”. You could hear Bob’s confusion over the radio, and then just left it with, “Well, then I’m confused.” I thought that was great knocking Damien off of his high horse.

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    Hans 4 months

    Pete – Wasn’t that yesterday when that happened? Still, I couldn’t believe Damian went with the “I’m not saying that PK was traded by Montreal because he was black but I’m saying he was probably traded because he was black” as Bob started pushing him when Cox started going down that road. If you’re going to toss out that sort of speculation then at least stand by your statement. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if that was actually part of the reason for the trade so I don’t think it will cause many issues if Cox actually verbalized it.

    Methinks old Damian realized where he was going and wasn’t prepared to be the one leading the thought process on it especially since the hockey “insiders” and “experts” won’t actually say the reason of the trade.

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    yaz 4 months

    Overdrive is 2nd in the Sports and Recreation Podcast rankings. Rankings move around quite a but but Overdrive is consistently in the Top Ten. Don’t recall them getting as high as 2nd though. Hope they find a way to be more consistent in posting them. They were down a couple of days at a time when they had just begun running commericials to listen to their Pods on Itunes and on the TSN Website because of their ‘clarity’. Nobody else at TSN has ptoblems posting their pods. Pretty inexcusable.

    Macko & Cauz Podcast is 32nd, PTS 33rd, HCN 34th.