• A Trip to the Sausage Factory

    by  • April 14, 2011 • Post, Uncategorized • 50 Comments

    NHL awards voting has been in the news recently, with the decision of four chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, which is entrusted with the responsibility of voting for the Hart, Lady Byng, Calder, Norris, Conn Smythe, Masterton and Selke Trophies as well as the end of season All-Star teams, to abstain from voting this year in protest of the decision of the New York Islanders to refuse access to Chris Botta. Botta, who used to work for the Islanders, has been covering them independently at Islanders Point Blank and, in the latest of a long series of gong show moves on the Island, was prevented from having access to the team after he somehow angered the team.

    The PHWA issued a statement after the voting thing came to a head, explaining their position on the matter. I’ll excerpt a few parts of it:

    As the NHL’s 2010-11 regular season winds down, and with voting on the league’s awards imminent, the Professional Hockey Writers Association remains adamantly opposed to — and distressed by — the early season decision of the New York Islanders to revoke the media credential of a PHWA member.

    This is even more objectionable than the original decision itself: In the months since, league officials have refused to intervene and overrule the Islanders’ decision, which would serve to re-emphasize the NHL’s commitment to facilitate objective and authoritative coverage from PHWA members…

    “Our concern is that this decision, if allowed to stand and become precedent, signals an end to the league’s agreement that independent and objective coverage not only benefits its fan base, but the NHL itself…

    “The PHWA takes seriously its role as an authoritative, objective and independent voting body for these awards, and is honored to participate in the process.

    Authoritative. Objective. Independent. Now, some might quibble with those claims. Certainly, we can all think of writers who come off as less than objective. One also wonders just how much independence you can claim when you’re dependent on an organization for the access necessary to do your job, which is certainly the case for those who fill their stories with quotes. I’ve written about these issues at some length in the past and I’ve got my doubts. It’s the claim to be authoritative that really catches my eye though.

    On what basis can the writers claim to be authoritative? It is, I think, an impossible claim. They watch a lot of hockey? Lots of people watch a lot of hockey. If you accept the claim to authority, it must derive from the fact that, if you’re writing about hockey as your job, there’s a sort of implied statement that you’re consuming a lot of hockey – you can’t write game stories if you didn’t see the game. The authority is enhanced by the fact that the body is self-governing, admitting only people who can prove that they have considerable knowledge about the game. This enforced consumption of hockey and self-governance presumably provides the basis for the claim to authority.

    While surfing Twitter the other night, I came across a curious tweet from Dan Tolensky.

    tolensky1

    This was somewhat surprising to me because, as you’ll note from his description, he doesn’t seem to be a professional hockey writer.

    tolensky2

    As an aside: after discussing this issue with me, Tolensky tweeted “Remind me not to be nice to people anymore. I answered a message from a blogger who’s site I’ve visited before thinking he wanted to know how to get into the PHWA. Instead I find out he wants to write story that I dont deserve to be a member bc I dont write enough anymore. Hopefully he can mention my profile image and the Matt Cook Foundation somewhere in the piece.” The Matt Cook Foundation is a charity founded by Matt Cook, a sledge hockey player who died of cancer last year. Before anyone forms any judgments on the basis of what I’ve written, I want to be perfectly clear: Tolensky’s profile image is an image of Matt Cook that is related to the Matt Cook foundation. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but there it is.

    There was, as of Sunday night, a link to Tolensky’s blog at TSN, which shows no writing more recent than July of 2010. This seems to have since been removed. Tolensky is not, as far as I can tell, a hockey writer at this point in time any more than the next guy who tweets about hockey, let alone a professional hockey writer.

    Tolensky’s vote got me thinking – how does the Professional Hockey Writers’ Assocation decide who votes for the awards that it decides? I spoke with Kevin Allen, president of the PHWA, about their process. He explained to me that it’s a bit of a misconception that all members of their organization get to vote. In effect, the voting pool is made up of three groups of writers – Eastern Conference writers, Western Conference writers and at-large members, who are national writers and, curiously, some bloggers. I understand that Tolensky is classed as an at large member.

    There are always more Eastern Conference writers than Western Conference writers, which forces the PHWA to limit the number of Eastern Conference writers who are permitted to vote, in order to achieve geographic parity. The at-large members are, as I understand it, predominantly based in Eastern Conference cities.

    The admission of bloggers and, in particular, Tolensky, raises some questions. In particular, one might wonder what, exactly, are the criteria for admission. While I enjoy Tolensky’s writing, and think he wrote one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read theorizing that Cliff Fletcher meant to sign Kurt Sauer from Colorado rather than Jeff Finger, I can rhyme off an awful lot of bloggers who turn out similar material. They are not, as far as I’m aware, voting on NHL awards.

    According to Allen, each chapter sets its own standards for admission. A writer who is accepted in, say, Los Angeles, might not meet with approval from the Toronto chapter. The size of the chapters in the various cities is not uniform but varies from city to city, with some cities having chapters consisting of only a few members. Writers can also be accepted into the PHWA not as members of a local chapter but as members of the national organization. Tolensky was accepted as a member at the national level.

    I asked for a copy of the list of writers but my request was turned down. According to Allen, although the list used to be public, it is currently kept private for two reasons. First, they ran into difficulty with writers being inundated with emails. In addition, they’ve had some concern about stories being published in which people scrutinize whether or not one of their members should be a member. In Allen’s view, because the PHWA is a fraternal organization, its members ought not to face a public evaluation about whether or not they’re worthy to be a member of the group. Although the list of voters is not publicly available, it is made available to the NHL for review.

    I also asked for a copy of the list with the names deleted but broken down geographically. Allen declined to provide me with this as well, commenting that, if he did, he would have to provide with the anecdotal evidence that supports the proposition that there is no geographic bias in the voting. He is adamant that no such problem exists.

    In the absence of any sort of breakdown of the voters, whether geographic or their names, it’s impossible to evaluate claims of geographic bias. There are some pieces of information floating around about how many voters there are and where they are. According to Eric Duhatschek, there were 177 people eligible to vote this year. A Ken Campbell post on The Hockey News suggests that six of them were in Vancouver, five covered New Jersey and the Island and ten covered the Rangers. The number of voters in Vancouver is shockingly small to me, given that the Canucks might be the biggest team, in terms of market size and relevance in that market, in the Western Conference.

    We simply don’t know though. You cannot disprove a suggestion of geographic bias by pointing out, as Campbell does, that Henrik Sedin won the Hart Trophy last year – if he collected a disproportionate amount of his votes from Western Conference voters, then there could still be a geographic bias that he managed to overcame. It would be fascinating to see the vote breakdown from the year that Jarome Iginla lost the Hart Trophy to Jose Theodore in a tie vote in order to see whether there was any geographic split there.

    It’s also impossible to evaluate the qualifications of the voters because we simply have no idea who is voting unless the voter discloses it. I’ve managed to turn up at one other blogger who has voting rights as a member of the PHWA. Gann Matsuda, who writes a site called Frozen Royalty is a voting member, entitled to vote on awards on All-Star teams. He attends Kings’ home games and games in Anaheim. Before writing this, I’d never heard of him or his website. With the greatest of respect, I question what makes him any more qualified than anyone else who writes a blog, or follows the game closely, to hand out awards.

    I will admit to having a bit of an impulse to say “Well, who cares about the NHL awards anyway?” I see three problems with this. From a financial perspective, for the players in the NHL, there’s money at stake. Winning an NHL award comes with bonuses from the league. For a player on his entry level contract, there might be bonuses at stake. I don’t claim to be an expert in journalistic ethics but, if Taylor Hall and the Oilers progress as we all hope that they will, the members of the Edmonton media could be faced with a choice at the end of the 2012-13 season: do they vote for Hall as MVP, potentially triggering a $2MM bonus in his contract and, if the Oilers are near the salary cap as the Hawks were last year, resulting in a cap overage that makes the 2013-14 team worse as the Oilers have less room to work with? Or do they not vote for Hall, even if he’s earned it? It’s one thing to be handing out awards – in this case, writers can do financial damage to the teams that they cover (or the competitors of those teams). You’re starting to get close to being an active participant in the story that you’re covering in those circumstances, I would think.

    More importantly, perhaps, is that rightly or wrongly, the winners of individual awards become part of the legend of the game. When a player’s career is measured up in retrospect, the awards that he won or didn’t won matter in terms of assessing that player’s place in history. I may not agree with it, but it seems undeniable to me that it occurs and if you’re interested in the history of the game and the story of the NHL, it seems to me that you have an interest in knowing that the voting process has structures in place that are designed to ensure a vote that, to the extent possible, eliminates things like geographic bias, differing sizes of the voting pool in various cities or people who aren’t observing an awful lot of hockey from influencing the vote. In light of Tolensky’s being issued a vote, the revelation (to me anyway) of the potential for different standards in different cities when it comes to being issued a vote and the possibility of votes being concentrated in the eastern part of the continent, it’s fair to wonder the extent to which these checks and balances are in place.

    One other point, in relation to Chris Botta, bears mentioning. In light of the general disinclination of the PHWA to back him by refusing their ballots, you wonder how many of the people being issued ballots don’t really have much of an interest in getting into the dressing room. If there are more Tolenskys out there, who vote but don’t actually cover hockey, their interests are different than the interests of those who actually cover the game for a living. Similarly, while I don’t really care about the trials and tribulations of sportswriters, the next time you hear one talk about his publication not having sufficient access to the team, ask yourself whether he was willing to take steps to help a member of his fraternal organization in a similar case.

    tolensky3

    Having gained a bit of an understanding now of how the voting process works, the entire thing feels like a cross between a raccoon lodge and an anonymous papal conclave. You can be issued a ballot despite not having done more than tweet about hockey all year. If you blog about hockey, in some cities you can join the PHWA and be issued a vote. Admission standards and, therefore, voting rights, will differ from city to city. The list of voters is secret and even the precise geographic split of those voters is withheld. The entire process is opaque and seems awfully discretionary.

    Ironically, you can probably fairly compare it to the NHL disciplinary process that so many writers rail against.

    About

    50 Responses to A Trip to the Sausage Factory

    1. April 14, 2011 at

      Standing and applauding. (By the way, had a chance to vote for OHL outstanding player this year for the first time and didn’t because I wasn’t sure who else was in the voting pool!)

    2. April 14, 2011 at

      I have to ask: have you ever tried to join the Edmonton/Toronto chapters of the PHWA?

    3. Tyler Dellow
      April 14, 2011 at

      @Lord Bob:

      I have not. I don’t think it would end well.

    4. April 15, 2011 at

      Can you try to join the Edmonton or Toronto chapter? Just for shits and giggles?

    5. Robbie
      April 15, 2011 at

      Inciteful and insightful! I suppose it all depends on whose ox is being gored. Coherent and thoughtful analysis of the vagaries and inner machinations of the juggernaut that is, according to some, the arms length marketing apparatus of the NHL. You clearly indicate that the strictest adherence to the highly subjective PHWA criteria means any Twit can cast a ballot that results in millions for some and nothing for others. Where can I get me one of them there hanging chads?

    6. April 15, 2011 at

      1. Perfectly chosen title. I hope you don’t get backlash from (actual) pro writers rolling their eyes at Tyler’s Latest Bombshell as that’s obviously not the point here. I suspect you will anyway.

      2. The Botta-related point matters. It’s why the PHWA can’t, with good integrity, stick with the “two separate issues” line.

    7. April 15, 2011 at

      Hey Tyler: Nice hack job on my reputation. Despite your “…with the greatest respect…” comment, you have impugned my qualifications and character without doing any apparent investigation into who I am or what my qualifications might be. All you did was send me an e-mail asking if I voted on the awards, without stating why you were asking, other than the fact that you were working on a story.

      A reputable writer (blogger, journalist or otherwise) would have enough sense and class to do his or her homework before spouting off. All you had to do was poke around my site and you’d easily find my history and qualifications.

      You may be a blogger without the accountability or responsibility that comes with being a journalist. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be criticized when you fall short in those areas.

    8. The Other John
      April 15, 2011 at

      Gann

      Read Tyler’s Blog. Had not heard of you. thought, gee there is another source of information for LA pro hockey and did not think, this guy is an ass clown. Would read your material before reaching any conclusion. Prolific does not, though, mean good .

      I was not aware of the voting process, now have more information about the PHWA and it does seem a wee bit strange.

    9. April 15, 2011 at

      @Gann – I’ve actually never seen your work or heard of you, so this mention of you by Tyler is my first knowledge of your existence, and approaching you from that standpoint, I don’t think Tyler impugned your reputation, qualifications, or your character. Having poked around Frozen Royalty over the last 15 minutes, it does appear that you run a pretty solid blog, sport some real credentials, and in general appear to know your shit. That said, there are other people in the world who are just as qualified as you. Some of these people may be a part of the PHWA, and some may not – the question is, why? What makes you any special or different from Joe Schmoe who also has some decent qualifications, yet you get PHWA status, and he doesn’t? Keeping in mind that there are always other people out there just as qualified as you, it begs the question of why you’re special enough to be included and other people are not.

      To that end, I did find this on Frozen Royalty, while I was looking up the qualifications you’d mentioned were on your blog:

      http://frozenroyalty.net/2009/02/14/indulge-me-for-a-few-moments/
      Indeed, it is both necessary and appropriate that I acknowledge and thank all of these people because just this month, I became a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA), a select group of the finest hockey writers in North America.

      And to top it off, I was invited to join by none other than Helene Elliott, Sports Columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

      Some of you might be wondering what the big deal is about that.

      …(Edited out a discussion of who Helene Elliott is)…

      Elliott is a superstar, a legend among hockey writers, and on January 8, when the Kings were hosting the Anaheim Ducks, I was sitting in my seat in the press box during the first intermission. The next thing I knew, Elliott was behind my left shoulder and asked me if I would be interested in joining the PHWA.

      Needless to say, I was stunned, and that is putting it mildly.

      When I was finally able to speak, I asked her, “are you serious? Why me?”

      Then she really blew me away.

      “I’ve seen you around long enough,” she said. “I’ve seen your stuff long enough, and I can vouch for you being well-qualified for membership.”

      Now, please keep in mind, I’m not saying whether or not you are well-qualified, because frankly, I’m not familiar enough with your work to be able to judge for myself. However, I must point out that with this anecdote in hand, it seems that your PHWA membership was largely helped by having a good connection with someone important. It seems from this story that because Helene Elliott said “I think this guy is good”, that you were able to become a part of the LA chapter of PHWA.

      Thing is, you may have gotten into PHWA (and thus received the benefits/priviledges it comes with) by going through an easier process than another PHWA chapter may require. Or hey, maybe you didn’t deserve it, but you’re in it anyways based on Helene Elliott’s recommendation, which could have been given for any of a number of reasons. The point is, we don’t know, we can’t know, and as a result, the PHWA may be letting in people of varying levels of qualification or credibility or knowledge, and this can have real reprecussions when it comes time for awards or all star teams or bonuses or even HHOF inductions (a process in which awards and all star selections are used to judge the worthiness of the players). As long as all of this remains behind closed doors and without uniform membership requirements, we can’t know if someone is in the PHWA because they’re a gifted writer or because someone owed them a favor.

    10. April 15, 2011 at

      The point is that Mr. Dellow apparently made no attempt to do the necessary homework to look into my credentials. It’s pretty classless to hang someone out to dry (in fact or by implication) without knowing the necessary facts.

      I may be an unqualified hack or the best hockey writer in the world. The problem is that Mr. Dellow has no idea either way, yet he made me out to be, by implication, unqualified. I don’t believe he did so intentionally. But what he wrote was careless and irresponsible.

      As for how I got into the PHWA, it wasn’t like I campaigned for membership. If you read that piece, you’ll know that I never even thought about it. It was all her idea. It came out of the blue. Writers who are media members of the Hockey Hall of Fame don’t invite other writers to join unless they are qualified writers with solid credentials.

      As for your point on who is in the PHWA and their qualifications, I’m not debating that at all. In fact, I’m not really debating the merits of this story. My problem here is solely with Mr. Dellow’s writing that involved me. He did not disclose the purpose of his questions when he asked me about the awards, which is discourteous, at best, and perhaps even unprofessional, under the circumstances. And, as I stated earlier, although I don’t believe he intended to do so, he created doubt about my credentials and qualifications, but apparently, did not look into my work at all.

      Now…if he had read a bunch of my stories, looked into my history as a hockey writer and THEN concluded that I’m a lousy writer, I could respect that. But he did not do so. That’s what I take issue with.

    11. April 15, 2011 at

      Er, so what ARE your credentials? What Dellow actually wrote is that, having investigated, he couldn’t see how yours were any different from those of many other amateurs. Swooping in and saying “Pardon me, sir, but I was invited to join the secretive private club by none other than Marie of Roumania” is not a very good way of addressing his point. Indeed, without some further eludication, you would rather appear to be confirming it.

    12. Tyler Dellow
      April 15, 2011 at

      This is the email I wrote Gann:

      I write a site called mc79hockey.com and I’m in the process of writing a post about the awards voting. I’m hoping that you can confirm a few things for me. As a member of the PHWA, do you vote on the awards? Other than the sites listed in your bio, do you write anywhere else and, in particular, do you write for any non-internet based publications? Do you travel with the Kings at all, or do you cover only home games (and, I suppose, Anaheim games)? How many games a year do you cover?

      I don’t think I’m obliged to tell you that you might not like what I write when I ask you for information.

      As for your qualifications, I read the page that IAmJoe links to and had the same reaction to it that he did. If you feel that you are legitimately more qualified than everyone else who runs a private blog for some reason other than living in a market that has extra room in the press box and having a relationship with Helene Elliotte (which frankly, now that this is a topic, seems a little hero worshippy), by all means feel free to share. At the very least, I’ll throw a link to it in the post.

    13. draglikepull
      April 15, 2011 at

      This seems to be an awful lot of attacks and insults without any sort of constructive conclusion. If these problems exist, and they’re serious enough to bother writing 2200 words about, what should the NHL do instead? Let GMs vote? Coaches? Other players? Give awards based purely on stats? Require the PHWA to have an entrance exam? Scrap the awards entirely?

      • Vladimir
        May 31, 2013 at

        theres difnreft rules for many of the difnreft leagues and levels out there (ice, roller, minor, major, internation, north american) This page has a few links for some of the difnreft leagues out there. hope it helps man, hockey is a great sport to get intrested in.

    14. Tyler Dellow
      April 15, 2011 at

      DLP: I dunno. Seems the first step would be making the voters list public so that it can be properly evaluated. Next thing would be making all of the votes public.

      • May 6, 2014 at

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    15. April 15, 2011 at

      I don’t claim to be an expert in journalistic ethics but, if Taylor Hall and the Oilers progress as we all hope that they will, the members of the Edmonton media could be faced with a choice at the end of the 2012-13 season: do they vote for Hall as MVP, potentially triggering a $2MM bonus in his contract and, if the Oilers are near the salary cap as the Hawks were last year, resulting in a cap overage that makes the 2013-14 team worse as the Oilers have less room to work with? Or do they not vote for Hall, even if he’s earned it?

      I think you’re assuming the writers think about the implications of their awards ballots beyond who gets the shiny thing at the end of the year; I’m pretty sure they don’t.

      Now…if he had read a bunch of my stories, looked into my history as a hockey writer and THEN concluded that I’m a lousy writer, I could respect that. But he did not do so. That’s what I take issue with.

      But he didn’t say or, to me, imply that you were a lousy writer. He was merely using you to illustrate how different chapters of the PHWA run things differently, and the implications that can have on the consistency and integrity of the voting process. I can guarantee you that no one is coming up to Julian Sanchez or Allan Mitchell and offering them a Hart ballot, even though I’d happy to have both of them voting, because I think they’re better hockey guys than half the PHWA’s members in their respective cities. That’s not your fault; you just happen to be a useful example.

      • Ichiro
        May 31, 2013 at

        stavano cercando le28099acqua sulla luna e hanno sreopcto che ci so1ff8no grossi giacimenti de28099argento..ma vc3a0? vai a vedc3a8 che gli astrologi lo sapevano gic3a0?infatti la luna c3a8 associata alle28099argento da millenni.. certo perc3b2.. coma caxxo facevano a saperlo? Bella domanda se non lo sai tu che sei anche astrologo .

    16. Coach Pb
      April 15, 2011 at

      I’m stunned that someone wrote a six-part series about a trainer.

    17. Coach Pb
      April 15, 2011 at

      Outstanding article, Tyler. The lack of transparency in the process speaks volume about the process and the PHWA. Lack of transparency always speaks volumes – even college football has transparent voting.

    18. rubbertrout
      April 15, 2011 at

      Having gained a bit of an understanding now of how the voting process works, the entire thing feels like a cross between a raccoon lodge and an anonymous papal conclave.

      That was priceless. Very well written Tyler. I continue to be impressed about your topics and how your message is delivered.

      @ Gann Matsuda

      I don’t think Tyler is impugning your work or credentials at all. In fact he goes out of his way to say that he isn’t familiar with your work. The whole point is to show that the process by which people are given the right to vote on awards doesn’t appear to have any transparency or clearly defined requirements.

      Eric Francis likely has a vote and he can barely convert oxygen to carbon dioxide without thinking really hard about it.

    19. April 15, 2011 at

      Ironically, I came out of Tyler’s article with no particular opinion on Gann, given that the facts we’re given about him are a) he runs a blog, b) he’s a PHWA member, and c) Tyler’s never heard of him, none of which are slurs even by inference.

      Meanwhile, I came out of Gann’s defensive comments thinking he’s a bit of a dick.

    20. April 15, 2011 at

      Here’s what Tyler wrote about Matsuda:

      It’s also impossible to evaluate the qualifications of the voters because we simply have no idea who is voting unless the voter discloses it. I’ve managed to turn up at one other blogger who has voting rights as a member of the PHWA. Gann Matsuda, who writes a site called Frozen Royalty is a voting member, entitled to vote on awards on All-Star teams. He attends Kings’ home games and games in Anaheim. Before writing this, I’d never heard of him or his website. With the greatest of respect, I question what makes him any more qualified than anyone else who writes a blog, or follows the game closely, to hand out awards.

      Breaking that down, he notes:
      - that Matsuda is a member of the PHWA
      - he is a blogger
      - that he was unaware of Matsuda before this
      - that Matsuda attends Kings/Ducks games
      - it isn’t clear what makes Matsuda more PHWA-worthy than other bloggers

      The only critical item there is the last one, and I think it’s more of a legitimate question than a “hack job.” Given that the lack of transparency in the PHWA process is the raison d’etre for the piece, I don’t think that last point is an example of failed investigation, but more a supporting fact for the overall case: Matsuda may be a superb blogger (that’s left to the readers’s discretion, and I got the impression from reading the piece that Matsuda was at least competent) but what differentiates him from others is not clear.

    21. ?
      April 15, 2011 at

      TLDR

    22. April 15, 2011 at

      Seriously? There’s 10 writers for the Rangers?

      Let’s put aside that the only well known hockey writer in NYC is Larry Brooks. Although I haven’t lived in the city for a while, I still couldn’t begin to guess the other 9 writers for the Rangers beyond that the Post has someone other then Brooks, the News has someone and maybe the Times has someone?

    23. Hawerchuk
      April 15, 2011 at

      @ Gann

      Methinks you are a bit too defensive. I follow the Kings pretty closely and I’d never heard of you before either. I live in a different market and I don’t really care about reading traditional hockey analysis, so I chalked it up to that. I doubt I could name more than one New York-area hockey writer (Jeff Klein.)

      On another note, I will go on record saying that Helene Elliott is a terrible sportswriter. Her bland pap is totally in line with the pathetic sports coverage I’ve come to expect from the LA Times.

    24. April 15, 2011 at

      I don’t know what section I enjoyed reading more, the actual post which was fantastic or the comments which are hilarious.

    25. Quain
      April 15, 2011 at

      Gann owns a house and has a passport, who the fuck are you to question his credentials?

    26. Triumph
      April 15, 2011 at

      “Let’s put aside that the only well known hockey writer in NYC is Larry Brooks. Although I haven’t lived in the city for a while, I still couldn’t begin to guess the other 9 writers for the Rangers beyond that the Post has someone other then Brooks, the News has someone and maybe the Times has someone?”

      I’d guess that Newsday has one, as do the Star-Ledger and The Record. That’s 3 more. Plus I can’t imagine that Stan Fischler doesn’t have a vote.

      • Reena
        May 31, 2013 at

        Contact your local minor hockey leugae. Many leugaes have equipment trade in sales. Good nearly new equipment and end of lines often make their way to these sales. Many parents are in the same boat as you and trade in last year’s gear for new or nearly new stuff. Good quality used equipment is often twice as good as new cheap gear.

    27. Tom
      April 15, 2011 at

      Mr. Matsuda-

      The overarching point here seems to be that the standards for admission into the PHWA are inconsistent league wide.

      There are 14 members of the Buffalo chapter of the PHWA. All of them work for a media outlet. Not one blogger is a member, although many have tried, and there are a lot of good Sabres blogs.

      In your case, you also have never worked for an ‘official’ media outlet, at least from what I can see in your official bio. This doesn’t take anything away from your work; it seems like you do know your stuff.

      So, why does one chapter of the association feel that it’s OK for a blogger to join, and vote on these important awards, yet another chapter simply views bloggers as basement dwelling hacks? Why is it that in LA, you have the same vote as someone who has worked in traditional media, but in a place like Buffalo, arguably a larger hockey market, the same does not apply?

      For the record, I think you’ve done well, and more chapters SHOULD allow quality bloggers into their ranks. But don’t you take issue with the fact that the standards ARE so different, given what is at stake?

    28. Hawerchuk
      April 15, 2011 at

      @ Gann

      And if you want to see someone’s reputation impugned, go over to my blog sometime.

    29. Tyler Dellow
      April 15, 2011 at

      There are more members of the PHWA in Buffalo than in Vancouver?

    30. April 15, 2011 at

      Apparently there’s more members of the PHWA in Buffalo than in New York City too. Wow.

    31. Tom
      April 15, 2011 at

      Yes.

      According to a Buffalo News blog post on April 4th, which is just a repost of Terry Frei’s comments on the whole kerfuffle, it’s 14.

      http://blogs.buffalonews.com/sabres/2011/04/professional-hockey-writers-association-remains-distressed-by-nhl-inaction.html

      “Posted by John Vogl, chairman of the 14-member Buffalo chapter of the PHWA.”

    32. Dan
      April 15, 2011 at

      Last year the Howard Beck, the author of an NBA blog on the NY Times website, had a post about voting transparency in the NBA, NFL and MLB (big surprise: no mention of NHL). Beck said that “New York Times policy prohibits reporters from voting for awards.” Of course we don’t know whether any NY Times writers are members of the PHWA, but this means that any PHWA members writing for the Times can’t vote for the NHL awards regardless of whether there is a boycott.

      With respect to the other sports, Beck wrote:

      “The Baseball Writers Association of America, which runs baseball’s awards, makes voter identities available to its members by request. Indeed, articles are written almost every year about voters who had to explain an unpopular choice. The Associated Press, which administers the N.F.L. awards, also makes ballot information available when asked, which is rare.

      The N.B.A. runs its own awards process and has always kept voter identities confidential.”

      http://offthedribble.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/a-call-for-transparency-in-awards-voting/

    33. Schitzo
      April 15, 2011 at

      Tom:

      I spoke with Kevin Allen, president of the PHWA, about their process. He explained to me that it’s a bit of a misconception that all members of their organization get to vote. In effect, the voting pool is made up of three groups of writers – Eastern Conference writers, Western Conference writers and at-large members, who are national writers and, curiously, some bloggers. I understand that Tolensky is classed as an at large member.

    34. Schitzo
      April 15, 2011 at

      Whoops, hit submit too soon. I meant to point out that membership does not necessarily equal voting rights. Tyler’s numbers (six in Vancouver, ten in NY) were voters, not members.

    35. April 15, 2011 at

      In the interest of helping to fill in the data, the word is that we’ve got 3 PHWA members in Nashville. Two are beat writers for local papers, while the 3rd writes on Examiner.com, although I believe he used to write for the AP.

    36. April 15, 2011 at

      Clarification: still does write for the AP.

    37. beingbobbyorr
      April 19, 2011 at

      Gann: “All you did was send me an e-mail asking if I voted on the awards, without stating why you were asking, other than the fact that you were working on a story.”

      Then why didn’t you ask him more detailed questions (isn’t that what journalists do?) about the nature of his inquiry before replying?

    38. beingbobbyorr
      April 19, 2011 at

      Gann: “A reputable writer (blogger, journalist or otherwise) would have enough sense and class …”

      And who judges what “reputable” is?

      Your whole defense (of yourself & the PHWA) smacks of the Fallacy of the Appeal to Authority.

    39. beingbobbyorr
      April 19, 2011 at

      Gann: “You may be a blogger without the accountability or responsibility that comes with being a journalist.”

      And what accountability & responsibility do you think Helene Elliot has? Her editors don’t give two shiaaats about what she writes. They’re just delighted to have a female reporter doing the heavy lifting about a sport they care not one whit about.

    40. beingbobbyorr
      April 19, 2011 at

      Gann: “Writers who are media members of the Hockey Hall of Fame don’t invite other writers to join unless they are qualified writers with solid credentials.”

      See Argumentation, Circular.

    41. beingbobbyorr
      April 19, 2011 at

      Gann: “My problem here is solely with Mr. Dellow’s writing that involved me.”

      Gann, babe, you’re in Hollywood. There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

    42. beingbobbyorr
      April 19, 2011 at

      Gann: “… which is discourteous, at best, and perhaps even unprofessional, …”

      But, but …. Tyler’s not a member of the PROFESSIONAL Hockey Writers Association. How can you expect him to be a Pro when he hasn’t been admitted to The Club?

    43. Spartacus
      April 23, 2011 at

      I’m sometimes pissed off when I navigate to mc79hockey.com and see that Tyler hasn’t written anything new for a while, but when he does, it’s well worth the wait.

      I found the responses to this topic much more interesting than the topic itself. Another touchdown for TD!

    44. April 24, 2011 at

      Spartacus, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I laughed out loud at that.

    45. beingbobbyorr
      April 25, 2011 at

      Quality-wise, Tyler Dellow & Tom Benjamin are to the mainstream hockey media as Spago is to McDonald’s.

    46. beingbobbyorr
      November 17, 2013 at

      I know this is 2.5 years after the fact, but in re-reading this post, I was stunned to note that no commenters made mention of this quote . . . .

      Although the list of voters is not publicly available, it is made available to the NHL for review.

      . . . . nor wondered what the artifacts of the NHL’s “review” of said voters list might be, and then what kind of dynamic takes place between NHL and PHWA if/when the later ignores those artifacts to some degree.

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