Reading Recap Media roundup on Raps and Jays making news

<span class="entry-title-primary">Reading Recap</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Media roundup on Raps and Jays making news</span>

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


It’s a horrible day in Toronto so here’s something to distract us from the fact that someone was able to casually commit dozens of attempted murders and two successful ones on a busy street that many of us visit several times a week for shopping and eating. It’s going to a brutal week as we hear simple analysis of complex social problems. If you know someone who is dealing with mental health issues involving harm to others, today is a good day to offer to listen. Thank you to first responders for helping contain this tragedy.


The End of An Era


The legacy of the Raptors franchise in their 23 years is equal parts playoff futility and bitter departures. Damon, Tracy, Vince, Chris, and now Demar. The first four cases have some differences we can debate but share the feature of the fanbase having somewhat soured on the superstar, either for performance or personality related reasons by the time it was over. Demar was the superstar who changed all that. He started here. He decided to stay. He put up incredible numbers. And he was still in his prime when he was ushered out of town.


It’s hard to come up with a comparable trade in any Toronto sport in the last 25 years. Seriously, who was the last home-grown Toronto superstar traded at the peak of his value — in terms of both social and athletic capital? There has been a ton written about this in the last 5 days. Here are some notable snippets:


The most cogent analysis comes courtesy of Eric Koreen:


“With the trade, Ujiri makes a case that many Raptors fans have been making for a while — that his roster, led by DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, is simply not good enough to turn championship aspirations into reality. He is not necessarily saying that Leonard changes that calculus, but it gets them closer, and it helps Ujiri avoid the Raptors hanging around in basketball purgatory for longer than necessary if it does not work out.”


This team has been in purgatory for so long and the last two years have shown the vastness of that expanse. There are lots of ways to be very far from the goal of winning a championship. Maybe the pre-trade Raps can get to the Finals now that LeBron is gone, but does anyone think they would have a prayer against the West? No. The one-and-done strategy is a good one for this roster in light of the NBA’s established model for success. If you have decided that a Demar-led team can’t win a championship then every year spent spinning your tires is an exercise in the sunk cost fallacy.


The best analysis of the messy way this trade was executed comes from the underrated Scott Stinson:


“Two days after he turned that reputation on its ear with the biggest trade in franchise history, Ujiri began his explanation of what had happened with an apology, and it didn’t get a whole lot more comfortable from there. There were many questions at the Scotiabank Arena press conference, and Ujiri is not yet providing much in the way of answers. For a guy who always comes across as firmly in control of what he is doing, Ujiri sounded on Friday like the leader of a team that has been unmoored, and one that will require serious paddling to get back on a steady course.”


This sums it up exactly. The Raps have been slick under Ujiri for the most part. The occasional slip up — “Fuck Brooklyn” comes to mind — has been endearing. The omissive press release, the conditional apology, and the social media backlash from the player are all instances of serious mishandling. This may all come out in the wash but it also might point to bad procedure at the top of the org chart.


The last standout article came from Michael Grange:


“For that reason and others it will be the defining moment of Ujiri’s career and marks the end of the Raptors’ innocence – to the extent any remains in pro sports or anywhere else, for that matter. The interior of the Raptors dressing room features a white-tiled montage of the Raptors and their families. The message is clear and well-intentioned, but will ring hollower today. The Raptors and their fans waited generations for an NBA star to embrace them and their city and lift their sorry team to new heights. Now he’s been traded in a high-stakes gambit that makes some sense on paper but could very well end up in an unmitigated disaster, given Leonard reportedly has no interest in playing in Toronto and has the option of bolting in the summer of 2019 as a free agent.”


Grange’s trademark understated writing style softens some cold hard criticisms: this was a harsh decision by an organization that has crafted a very family-friendly image of late. It also highlights the tension fans face when they fall in love with players who profess their love for the city. That’s all well and good as a cherry on top of winning. But it also becomes a crutch when a player’s talent is not quite good enough.


If you are interested in the technical side of the trade, this one by Blake Murphy is also worth your time. I want to take up one point he makes:


“There’s a non-zero chance the Raptors can convince him to stay based on the quality of the team, organization, city, and wings, by the way, but the downside risk here is that Leonard walks.”


“Non-zero” is the best way to approach the probability of him staying, and I’m glad Blake put it that way. Toronto media takes the bait on this point way too often. “Maybe he’ll get a taste of our great city!!!” I read this in several articles and it is a lazy talking point unless you’re prepared to back it up with facts. Who are the superstars who were traded here with a year left who then chose to stay? Compare that list with the ones who left? What possible reason do you have to think Leonard would fall into the former category, especially in light of the evidence to the contrary?


Taking a step back, this one is a strange one. As Toronto fans we are so accustomed to being rejected by people we want to keep or attract. This is a case of dumping someone amazing who wanted to stay, in exchange for someone better who has shown no interest in us. Seems like a recipe for more heartbreak. But what is the alternative? We just went through that last year and it ended in humiliating fashion.


Cathal Kelly had two mediocre articles for the Globe. One of them included the word Shakespearean, but you already knew that. With big changes happening at The Star this would be a good time for the Globe to hire Bruce Arthur and give him the kind of audience best suited to his interests. It would also clear up the columnist logjam at The Star. I would be quite happy with a weekly generalist line-up of Simmons, Stinson, and Arthur.


The Sun is trying to cram homemade video content into their stories and the results are cringeworthy.



Over to you: how did the media handle the Demar trade? How interested are you in local analysis of this story?


The Stro (side) Show Continues


The response to Stroman’s latest public incident has been very interesting to watch. Over the last 2+ years Marcus has beefed with many people and has enjoyed support (both loud and silent, on and off the record) from some in the media. We seem to have turned a corner recently and there are few who will say anything positive about Marcus’ professional conduct. This is obviously made all the more easy in light of his subpar performance after an off-season of hyping bigger and better things on social media.


The details of the incident are mostly public. Arash Madani of Sportsnet had been trying to get a one-on-one with Stroman for a feature in the works but was rejected due to a newish policy of Stroman’s to only be available on gameday as required. When the Jays announced that the medial relations department was going to be morphed into a new fan engagement unit that would provide a bridge between The Dome (and the Jays) with One Mount Pleasant (and Sportsnet) many worried this would give the team too much control over their already pliable media partner. If Stroman was able to serially dodge Madani this adds grist to the mill. Madani waited until the end of the post game press conference in the hopes of getting a money quote for his feature, which led to the now famous “NAT FUCKING BAILEY” riposte.


For a fan perspective on the latest spat with the media, have a glance at this one from a popular Jays blog:


“It’s  frustrating to see some fans and media portraying Stroman as this “me first” player when in reality, he is anything but that. They forget that this is the guy that came back from an ACL tear to pitch in the playoffs in the same year. Stroman didn’t have to risk his career with a quick rehab – he could’ve taken the year off as most players do. Instead, he spent hours upon hours rehabbing his injury that eventually gave the Blue Jays another quality starter to pair with David Price in the playoffs. I’m sorry, but does an egotistical player do that?”


This is in response to a Rich Griffin column, in which he states:


“The bottom line is that Stroman was right about both him and his team being terrible heading into the break, but he needs to mature before he can find true success in the major leagues. He expresses his love for the organization and the city, yet whenever you see him interviewed, when it’s his turn to appear before the cameras, he seems to always make sure he’s wearing something featuring the Stroman brand. It’s never the Jays’ hat or other gear. That sends a message.”


This is a bad talking point in my opinion. It’s the sort of thing you go to when things are going poorly but not otherwise. There’s no real tension between his self-promotion and his commitment to winning or being a good teammate. The thing that hurts Stroman’s brand the most is his poor performance on the field.  In other words, it’s low hanging fruit for Griffin to mention it at this point in time.


The more germane point is this one:


“I have had a Jays teammate look around when I approached to talk to make sure Stroman was not watching. Leaders don’t do that. The organization has permitted this anti-social behaviour and can be part of the solution. Stroman believes he doesn’t get enough respect from media. It’s a two-way street. He may take this as spiteful criticism but it is only meant to be constructive.”


If Stroman is setting a hostile tone for the team in dealing with media that’s a problem. If the team is turning a blind eye to it, that’s also a problem. As a consumer of news and analysis I want the players to be available and open, within reason. Recall that this off-season featured Stroshows re: the loss of Ryan Goins and his own arbitration case. The team knows they are dealing with a volatile personality and seems to have thrown their hands up. This all seems very un-Shapiro, who comes across as controlling and image-conscious.


Simmons add his perspective:


“A year ago I asked a Blue Jays employee a rather basic question: When did Stroman become a jerk? (Note at the time, he was pitching rather well for a last-place Jays team.) The answer came back simply: “You don’t become one.” If he pitches as he did a year ago, with his numbers among the best of American League starting pitchers, then you can become whatever guy you want to be, so long as you perform. But when you stop being an ace, and it becomes all about your inability to find your way, then the clubhouse personality in a clubhouse lacking any kind of leadership stands out for all the wrong reasons.”


I agree with Steve that losing opens the door to all these things. There’s a lesson in there for Stroman.


The odd thing about this story was the fact that Sportsnet chose not to write about it despite it featuring the work of two Rogers employees. There was nothing on the website about it, though I am told it was amply covered on some of the radio shows which still run during the summer. This is interesting because you would think — or hope — that management at Sportsnet would back their own employee (assuming they agree that Madani did nothing wrong). Sweeping this news story under the rug sends the opposite message both to fans and to observers in the media.


This is a buck that ultimately stops at Scott Moore’s desk. He is not having a great year with the Sedin screw up, the current bait and switch in the Jays radio booth, 4 years of ratings disappointment with hockey, and now this.


For some good reads on baseball check out this piece on the shift by Arden Zwelling and this one on the impending return of Osuna.


Over to you: Should Sportsnet have publicly backed Madani? Are the inmates running the asylum in the Jays clubhouse? 



thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)


  • comment-avatar

    When both the players and the reporters receive their pay from the same ownership, a clear line of separation is the first thing to disappear.

    Notwithstanding the fine efforts of many non-Rogers employees, the result is an all too often conflict that leaves the reader and/or viewer with a compromised journalistic product.

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    Arash should of been smarter and followed Brunt’s lead. Write your article in the offseason and get Rogers to pay for your winter vacation while you write a story no one cares about.

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    Drumanchor 11 months ago

    If it is true that Madani, while waiting for cameras and microphones to be finished, just ambled up to ask about a minor league baseball stadium from 6 years ago, being in Stroman’s shoes, I would also go WTF. Seems to me that he could have framed the question much better given the circumstance of a painful loss. He is not blameless here. 

    As for the comment on the “bait and switch” with the radio broadcasts, I totally agree. Like most fans, I like the new guy, I do NOT like Wilner and the rest of the cast of revolving characters just adds confusion. Get ONE play-by-play announcer and consider letting him do the whole game. One, decent, colour guy and just go with that  –  period. 

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    Steve in Waterloo 11 months ago

    While I understand the difficulty of trading Derozen, and some of the fall out, I APPLAUD Ujuri for doing what it takes to win a championship.

    He could have fired Casey and put an entertaining team on the court, knowing full well it has no chance to win.
    He did what he had to do to give the team the best chance. As a fan, I can ask no more of a team.

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    mark coale 11 months ago

    They discussed the Stroman thing on the Blair show and Baseball Central and PTS. Blair seems now free to say how much he doesn’t like Stroman personally and has been freely discussing whether they should trade him.

    Bad couple weeks for someone who turns off any basketball talk. I think 2 whole days of PTS skipped due all the talk, between the Raptors trade and 590 again pushing this celebrity hoops thing. I wonder if they have a stake in it?

    I like that Bob has to come in on a vacation day to do a Spotlight interview with Jim (hello friends) Nantz.

    Barker is becoming more and more negative. I wonder if he will be Dirked in the off-season or would he be safe as to not upset his mrs?

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    It was quite refreshing to hear Jeff Blair say what needed to be said about Stroman – Things must be really bad in the clubhouse for a a mainstream Toronto reporter/radio host to be able to sound off like that – Trade Stroman ASAP as the guy is obviously a clubhouse cancer –

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    I’ve been saying forever that the Raptors needed a true star player. Glad they finally have one, even if it is a brief stay. Not sure the supporting cast is good enough to win it all, but should be a great showdown with Boston and possibly Philly.

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    Mont, I listened again to Blair’s comments after your post.

    Agree with his take and also like the change from the usual “ail will be fine” playbook that we hear much too often.

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    mark coale 11 months ago

    I guess with Osuna traded, we take one square out of the PTS bingo card rotation.

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    Mark Coale – We’ll still likely to hear more about the Osuna trade once Bob returns from his vacation and he gives his thoughts about it.

    I was very surprised to see on twitter that Daren Millard has announced he’s leaving Sportsnet. Let the speculation begin as to people trying to figure out his “real reason”, if any as well as to who would replace him on all the sportsnet shows he hosted.

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    This is the last time I write a response on my phone. Really lit into this and lost it. May try and do it again tomorrow. Short stroke is Millard likely and justifiably felt slighted after the Rogers/NHL deal and finally drew a line in the sand. Good for him. Regardless of the business or industry, you have to respect someone for doing that. March on. 

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    Wonder who’ll take over HC at noon? Or maybe they shake it up. Personally I think sports specific shows like that are better suited to being podcasts.

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    Pants Go Brown 11 months ago

    Millard was embarrassingly corny, almost to Ron MacLean levels. And I won’t miss his stupid growing up on the prairies stories. Now if they would only dump Kypreos.

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    Daniel – I have to wonder if they’ll follow suit with TSN and go with a female host, someone like Leah Hextall who has hosted it before perhaps? I know it goes against the Fan’s usual practices but it would be a good chance to try something new than the usual talking heads and friend’s of the NHL’s commissioner.

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    Always thought Millard to be a fine host, but too often he was flanked by Kypreos, who made everything unwatchable. Jeff Marek has been underused his entire career at Sportsnet, and he should be given more opportunity.

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    I’d take Amber over Marek any day. 

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    Other than Kypreos and a tacky new set, nothing has changed at HNIC since Rogers paid seven trillion dollars (USD) for the NHL rights. The guy that convinced the CEO to sign the deal fled to go hack balls in Europe and the guy that signed off on the deal quickly retired. Embarrassing. But there are more third line  ‘partners in the game’ calling into Sportsnet radio to mumble vacuous indecipherable nothingness via a bad cell phone connection to ‘grow the game’ which is inspiring.

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    It was nice to hear Friedman on the PTS roundtable this past week………it was his first appearance on the Friday roundtable in 2018……….I realize he has a busy schedule during hockey season but there has got to be a way to get him on the roundtable more than once or twice a year

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    Agree. While I tire of the usual “in-house” Rogers guys, Friedman is the exception and always takes a discussion up a notch or two.

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    Agree. While I have complained about the overuse of the usual “in-house” Rogers guys, Friedman is the exception. His contributions always add something to the discussion and take it up a notch or two.

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    Mike V 10 months ago

    Nothing says hockey oversaturation in Canada like a publisher green-lighting a 200+ page book on one TV deal by an old-guard scribe with no real credentials examining media. 

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    Missed the announcement.

    Who is writing a book?

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    Missed the announcement. Who is writing a book, about what exactly?

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    I’ll be curious to see how much new research went into this. Shoalts hasn’t written anything of note about media stuff in the last year for the Globe.

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    Thanks Mike and I tend to agree.

    The days when the Globe was a good source for Sports Media coverage have long passed; an early result of the cutbacks.

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    Steve in Waterloo 10 months ago

    The days when The Globe was a decent source for sports have certainly passed

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    Cirroc 10 months ago

    I saw Sportscentre had a black lady on with Nabil this morning.   Surely TSM has some sort of celebration planned…

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    Speaking of which I would love someone to track down Bill Houston for an interview, in print or podcast. 

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    Mackenzie 10 months ago

    Really surprised how much I like Adam Wylde on 590s morning show. Wish he could stick around but it will go back to status quo next week. Would love to hear him with Price.

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    What’s behind Bob McCowan calling out Shapiro the other day? Seems like he deliberately want to take the shot. Wonder if it’s his way of siding up with Gibby who is being made to look like a fall guy for the team’s performance…or maybe tired of Atkins spouting corporate-isms and Shapiro ducking behind for cover (am guessing Shapiro is turning down requests to appear on PTS of late).

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    Jindal 10 months ago

    I like analytics in baseball, but hearing Atkins speak is the worst. He is probably the baseball equivalent to Bill Lumbergh.

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    Bingo Bango Bongo 10 months ago

    I don’t know if this will be posted but here goes. @Mike (in Boston) I can’t believe you would question the amount of new research Shoalts would do.
    He’s a professional writer and journalist who worked at the Globe & Mail when that meant something. Those types take their craft very seriously. They’re not cooks. Plus, David Shoalts is very well connected with people on all sides of this deal. He has contacts and they trust him. The book and its author have nothing to do with the Globe & Mail. I think you took an incredibly cheap shot there and you’re not shy in policing others comments. I think that’s hypocritical.

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    PTS drinking game: take a drink each time Richard Diestch says “like”. Only Andre the Giant could make it through this torture.

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    Random thought: Good Show used to be a big tune out for me, but I think it’s getting much better. I think Ben Ennis has become a very good host, who doesn’t take things too seriously (which I like) without also coming across as a bro or sort of douchey (my problem with Overdrive). I think he’s improved a lot over the past couple years.

    I do think JD Bunkis is holding it back a bit though to be honest. I think he definitely knows a lot about sports, but doesn’t have the polish to do an afternoon show yet. Maybe he’d be better served doing evenings/weekend for a year or two to cut his teeth a bit, and bringing in someone else with Ben.

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    Good Show’s 20 minute Family Feud segment needs to get flushed down the nearest toilet. 

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    Big show memo to jd bunkis.  Less is more.
    As in shut your damn mouth.   If you cut back 50% of what you say now, you’d still be saying twice as much as everyone!!!  Scotty Mac all the way during this time slot.  Just been tough with Scotty Mac as he is often not on his own show!!  

    I repeat..jd bunkis.  Less is more

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    Can we get a column of why Sportsnet banned its personalities to appear at the Homestand Sports events? They’ve certainly undercut them, as the sportsnet personalities made up a big portion of their lineups.

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    A month since a new post. I think that is a new record! 🙁

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    Steven 10 months ago


    I literally was just thinking the same thing.

    Time to close this place up? They use to pump out content all the time.

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    BingoBangoBongo 10 months ago

    Romaniuk out, Bartlett in…crickets.

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    “Time to close this place up?”; I don’t think so.

    TSM and MIB do this in addition to their own endeavours to support themselves and their families.

    There is an unlimited supply of dialogue out there on the internet for those who desire it.

    While I too miss the weekly frequency of days gone by, I would miss even more the total loss of this site.

    One man’s opinion for what it’s worth.

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    Laziest Podcast description of the year is Friday, August 24 PTS: ‘Gord Stellick takes your calls (2:58); Gord is joined in-studio by Richard Deitsch, Doug Smith, and Joey Vendetta for the Friday Roundtable (44:27).’ – For two hours and thirteen minutes of audio. 

    August 22nd PTS Pod (41 mins in) has an interesting story told by Stellick how Joe Bowen got hired to call the Leafs games just by listening to his audition tape. They asked him to fly in and call a pre-season game as an auditon and Joe told them no and included a few F bombs. They listened to the tape again, called him back, and hired him. That was 1982. Joe just began a new five year contract this year. 

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    Pants Go Brown 10 months ago

    Gord Stellick drinking game, any time he mentions Borje Salming.

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    Catching up on this past Friday’s PTS roundtable, and the station’s coverage over the Erik Karlsson dilemma continues to be embarassingly misleading and misinformed, for the a station that claims to have a finger on the pulse of all national sports stories. Since early in the year, they have not treated it as a story to report but rather as a tool to slant an entire market to satisfy a Toronto superiority complex. Karlsson has stated on countless occasions over the years how much he adores the Ottawa area, especially with his wife being from there. His primary contention has been with the owner. If this has ever been mentioned at all on 590 though, it’s only ever so slightly in passing before they find another excuse to torch a rival market. I understand that they probably figure their listening base would be far more interested in commentary that involves relegating an entire city and fanbase as scum of the earth. “Why would Karlsson ever stay? It’s Ottawa, they don’t even deserve a team!” probably sells better than “Their fanbase and market is overshadowed by a toxic owner. If that one element changed, the entire story changes in Ottawa.” Note how Jim Hughson, in December on PTS, brought up the ramifications of the Phoenix pay system failures when discussing ticket sale issues in Ottawa. Bob immediately dismissed it, because it didn’t allow for an easy narrative of simply attacking every fan in a rival market. In July, Bob went on a rant that the Ottawa fans have never demonstrated once that they even deserve a team through their support. Of course, nobody on the panel pointed out that Ottawa had top-10 attendance figures in the league from 1997-2013. Whether it’s regarding attendance or Karlsson, the immense elephant in the room that the station refuses to fully acknowledge is Melnyk. Now, one may presume that the Toronto market would be fully understanding of the ramifications of having a toxic franchise owner, but Melnyk is a frequently welcomed guest of the station and a good friend of Bob’s, and it seems that a toxic Toronto-based owner is still more appealing and sympathetic than the reality concerning a rival market. “Can’t criticize a Toronto boy, that means the Ottawa fans win!”. This continual misinformation and misleading would not be happening at this station at quite this level if, say, Karlsson was a Calgary Flame. Instead, because it’s Ottawa, we get the narrative of “Ottawa fans are despicable, the city is a hellhole, they will infect your city if let in, why would Karlsson ever possible stay there? The owner? Oh, well, what’re you gonna do? Has he problematic? Well, who isn’t? We all just need to rescue Karlsson from the most abhorent city imaginable”. This sort of dialogue would be perfectly acceptable on a blog site. From a station claiming to be a national voice, it’s utterly unprofessionalism at the worst degree. Imagine networks in other markets looking at the Harold Ballard era and deciding that the only solution is to send every player away and move an entire franchise because its clearly the “fans’ fault”. I doubt that would have played well at all in this market nor would have been justifiable by any journalistic standard. But, it’s a Toronto station so what wrong can they ever do?

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    Drumanchor 10 months ago


    Interesting thoughts and I wold agree that Ottawa does seem to get more than it’s fair share of bashing. The major kerfuffle over their lack of a sold out crowd for playoff games was, to me, well over-the-top. That being said, I would imagine that the, seemingly, lack of respect the city and the team get from the out of market media is not quite at the level Toronto and the Maple Leafs generate from various western Canadian cities. 

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    I agree with you, K-J, and I’d also throw another name in the mix: George Gillette. Bob is a good friend of the former Habs owner, and in the days when he owned the team, you wouldn’t hear him utter a peep of criticism regarding the Canadiens as an organization.
    Bob is super-deferential to rich guys.

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    Thought Adam Wylde and Ashley Docking sounded good filling in for Blair. Almost had a morning show vibe.

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    Site’s dead, isn’t it?

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    […] With the NBA Finals in full swing the international sports world is turning its eyes to our city. The local media have also been getting a turn in the spotlight as outlets from elsewhere look for expert opinions on Khawi’s team and what this moment means for Toronto. This is a chance for local personalities to expand their reach, grow their own brands, and establish credibility on a much larger scale. Speaking of credibility, for a look back to last summer at what some local media were predicting for this season, see here. […]

  • comment-avatar

    […] With the NBA Finals in full swing the international sports world is turning its eyes to our city. The local media have also been getting a turn in the spotlight as outlets from elsewhere look for expert opinions on Khawi’s team and what this moment means for Toronto. This is a chance for local personalities to expand their reach, grow their own brands, and establish credibility on a much larger scale. Speaking of credibility, for a look back to last summer at what some local media were predicting for this season, see here. […]