Toronto Sports Media Generational Gap, NHL Media Rates & Give Huey A Break


I have a few favorite episodes of Happy Days the TV show. The first one is the Jump The Shark episode where Fonzie on waterskis attempt to jump a shark which is commonly viewed as a key moment for the show signifying that the show had been on too long- hence the name jumping the shark. The other is the one in which Fonzie admits that he can’t say the word wwwwwwrong. As in, I was wrong.

Well, I am here to admit that I was wrong.

Blinded if you will.

For months now I have been pondering the ever-evolving change in media. Clearly, with the spiraling of physical newspapers, the evolution of web content, the rise of podcasts with the downturn of radio things were changing.

I’ve noticed and written about the friction between the old school media scribe and the new form of writer. While not solely based on analytics, in hockey a clear change is the younger author who is data inclined as opposed to the older scribe who is, um, not so much. No, that’s not the only difference or change but it is clearly a difference.

What I’ve not given much focus on is the ever-changing attitude change in the audience. Dumb old me..

Maybe it’s just on twitter but the times they are definitely a-changing.

What used to be normal for the media to do, how they would report or what they would report on has evolved today as much because of the change in the audience as it has with the rise of a new(er) group of MSM.

The reception to the Auston Matthews COVID-19 test is a classic example. The most common battle cry on social media was about Matthews’ rights to health privacy. I have no interest re-litigating the issue on its merits but the reception of at least part of the fan base and MSM themselves was striking.

This continued after Toronto’s first play in loss when Matthews took to the stage for his media availability.

Simmons asked Matthews a question to which Matthews responded:

“First of all, it’s unfortunate I’m getting a question from you at this point, Steve, I just wanted to say that I didn’t appreciate the article you wrote about me a couple of months ago. I thought it was a bit unethical, to be honest.”

and then AM answered the question asked.

The response to the incident was typical of what I am now taking greater note of…

Not picking on this one Tweeter.. but that is the type of response that was littered all over twitter.

The old school fan/MSM noted AM using his media availability to address Simmons’s disclosure of his contraction of Corona following a “playoff” game as clearly within an odd time to doing so.

The newer (not necessarily younger) audience literally cheering AM on for doing so.

That led to an interesting exchange on Twitter between James Mirtle and Steve Simmons:



Twitter continues to make for great theatre between MSM for those of us who like this type of stuff…

BTW, Damien Cox has been on fire lately..

BTW, the Athletic has been running some great promotions and I urge you to subscribe. First, it’s phenomenal content. Mirtle, Kaitlyn McGrath, Andrew Stoeten, Blake Murphy, Eric Koreen, John Lott just on the Toronto side create some of the best daily content available. Mirtle’s Leaf articles recently are amongst their best. Second, it’s imperative that startups like The Athletic succeed. We here all too often of cuts in media, they were the only ones hiring before their cuts. So please support your local writers and stations.

So, what do I make of it all?

The voices of disagreement are very vocal these days. The attitude of the many is louder than ever before. Neither good nor bad. Just fact.

At the same time, the more experienced Twitter audience I used to love engaging with had a much better sense of sarcasm. The audience today has literally none and at the same time treats everything as a personal afront.

The most puzzling thing to me is that those with the loudest voices continue to follow those with whom they have the biggest problem with.

There are many media members (sports and non-sports) that I don’t care for their opinions (in twitter or any platform) and as a result, I don’t listen. I don’t get the idea of filling my feed or inbox with the work of those whose opinions I don’t appreciate or consistently disagree with. That to me is maddening.

It’s no different from those who read the columns here or follow me on twitter. There is no shortage of digital content available out there. IF you don’t like what I server up and I think I am pretty consistent why are you here?

So if you don’t like Simmons, or Cox or Arthur or whomever why are you ingesting their content. I get it, you want to watch a game there are only so many options as to who is on TV or on radio commentating. You are stuck there. But why people choose to follow, listen to or read content from those whose work they literally hate makes no sense to me.

As it does with so many things, the answer goes back to Stern:

I guess the easy solution is to keep monitoring the ever-evolving behaviors of both media and the audience. For those who keep coming back here for more, I’d be curious to read your take. Is it simply a change in the media landscape or is the audience evolving too?

So the other day prior to the start of the Leafs playin series I tweeted #freebobcole. As so many Leaf fans hoped, with the addition of Chris Cuthbert to Rogers Sportsnet, Jim Hughson would return to the western coverage while Cuthbert would take over the Leafs. Nothing personal on Hughson, but IMHO despite the audience size he does not do his best work while doing Leafs games. My tweet was as much about that as it was for lamenting the fact that I miss hearing Bob Cole call games.

Several people responded to my tweet with comments like, “Cole makes too many mistakes”.

Well, there we were when this happened:

Now, let me say this.

Jim Hughson is a great broadcaster. He has earned his stripes and he does not need me to defend him.

Broadcasters all make mistakes.

Remember Hughson was not at the Scotiabank arena when the game was being played, he was in a studio watching on monitors.

I was led to believe that the PBP crews were NOT in the bubble arenas. Several people have advised that they are indeed in the arena watching live. Either way, a mistake is a mistake is a mistake.

So, I would not be throwing any sand his way for the gaffe of the call BUT for those of you who throw a lot of rocks at another legend for the sole reason “Bob Cole makes too many mistakes”.

Now Steve Simmons threw Hughson some props in his weekly column today which I don’t believe are warranted after the miscall. In my opinion, Simmons could have made the point re: Rogers lack of talent on air right now (see below) without appearing to come to Jim’s aide by giving props. Whether that was Steve’s intent or not it came across to me that way and at a time where the credit was not warranted nor the help needed. To his credit, Hughson immediately fixed the error on air. Sources tell me he was quickly notified by someone on the truck but who cares how or why he corrected. Not oddly enough Sportsnet has either replaced Hughson’s call with Joe Bowen or cut it after the goal prior to the error.

James Duthie was on OverDrive the other day. You have to take a listen to the segment where he and the guys talk about the disappearance and re-appearance of maturity on the part of the Maple Leafs. It was great radio.

The opening to Friday’s Over-Drive with Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence was HILLARIOUS.

Shockingly muted during the Leafs series has been Jeff O’Neil. Should the team bow out I expect
Jeff to return to his animated self.

Labour Day is about a month away. Are the drumbeats of a large organizational change at Rogers Media that I keep hearing true? Will that spell the end of Tim and Sid in the old PTS slot? Inquiring minds want to know.

I can tell you this, multiple reliable sources told me that despite really strong ratings in Canada for the play-in series Rogers overhyped the games to potential advertisers to the tune of 35-45% less than achieved. How damaging was the Leafs’ early performance? I am told that Leaf rates for radio and TV for game 4 and a potential Game 5 prior to game 4 were bargain-basement low. What are they for game 5??? Not sure yet. Prior to the Leaf turnaround win a prominent exec told me that if the Leafs bailed out in the first series after game 4 “Rogers may have to sell the Blue Jays.” That was a joke.. get it?

The Dome is sitting empty until at least April. if Edward Rogers doesn’t unshackle Mark Shapiro’s hands and pour serious money into the stadium now he deserves all the criticism as an owner he will get. There is no good excuse for major renovations not to start now. Don’t give me the BS that it takes time to get approvals etc. By all accounts, Shapiro has been trying to loosen Edward’s purse strings with specific asks since he arrived. They know what needs to do, all they have to do is write the cheque.

MLB owners and the union look like morons compared to their NHL and NBA counterparts on the Corona plan. This game is canceled, that one is not… who can follow along? Please tell me the NFL is going to go bubble syle..

A birdie tells me that Gary Bettman will not leave office prior to owning the title as the longest-serving commish ever. While the hate-hate relationship with the fans is obvious as he has done with franchise value and tv money (let’s see where he goes on the new deal) Bettman has delivered during the epidemic.

John Chayka, the story goes got greedy. In a potential LARGE deal with the franchise close to but not in NYC was going to essentially run the sports empire. However, Chakya first lied to his organization and then insisted that the title NHL GM remain part of his new title, and therein is the reason he remains in Bettman’s sin bin. Had he just kept the CEO, or Executive VP title many expected Bettman or the Yotes would have little room to say boo. Instead, he is out and league is none too pleased. The last thing they wanted right now is more attention on the Arizona franchise.

We were sold, by the way, that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. came to spring training in exceptional shape. “He never picked up a weight before” the story began. Maybe that’s true. Many people have told me that Shaprio inc. aren’t overly impressed with Guerrero Jr’s COVID regimen. I am not one to talk, but whatever they say he weighs in their media guide is pure fiction.

You probably don’t know him, and likely never heard of him, but sports and sports radio lost a really good one this week when Jamie Samuelsen passed away at young age of 48. Not from Detroit he embraced the market and was one of the really, really good ones in that market. You should do two things as a result, one if you are around his age get a colonoscopy and two read this amazing article. Sympathies to his family, his wife and his kids.

Congrats to two of the best on their retirements from the Toronto Star: Mary Ormsby and Paul Hunter. Life longers on the sports beat. Their work will be missed.

Finally, in the Simmons’ weekly column he (correctly) states the current state of panels on Rogers Sportsnet hockey games. Well, we have landed at the place we all expected. You get what you pay for. Given the current crew, I’d make it tight and clean. Burke, Friedman, Amber,Hrudey and Ron and maybe Christine Simpson. The rest? Wow. I remind you this is playoff hockey, supposed to be the best of the best and we are left with that crew? wow. Where is Jeff Marek?? Where is Caroline Cameron?

The other night the second-period intermission, with the exception of Burke and Friedman it was hands down the worst intermission Rogers has aired since taking over the games. In a word.. BRUTAL.

I like Colby Armstrong when he does regional work. Kevin Bieksa? Sorry, I am not a fan.. Neither, by the way, is Roberto Luongo

Tweet of the week:

Thanks for reading..

As always:

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