• Journalizm

    by  • August 22, 2012 • Hockey • 27 Comments

    If you want to hear me yammering in a podcast about the CBA, CHLPA and Roger Clemens, click here

    Hey, so various Postmedia titles have announced that they’re now putting their content behind paywalls. What will we be losing? Well HHOFer Jim Matheson had a good piece in yesterday’s Journal:

    Only two other Oilers, Jason Bonsignore and Milan Kytnar, have ever worn 64.

    Matty initially had that as just being Bonsignore and then someone pointed out on Twitter that he was wrong – the story was fixed.

    Judging by the salaries of other defensive D-men like Los Angeles Kings’ Willie Mitchell ($3.5 million), Smid should be in that price range in a new deal. He played close to 21 minutes a game last year and was plus-four, playing against the other team’s top guns.

    According to both measures of QualComp on Behind The Net, the Kings’ top pairing was Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi. According to Hockey Analysis, Doughty played about 989 5v5 minutes with Scuderi and 222 5v5 minutes with Mitchell. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Mitchell probably wasn’t the guy the Kings were lining up against the opposition’s best.

    Also, Mitchell signed that deal in LA when he was 33 and coming off a season in which he didn’t play a game after January 16 because he was concussed. So, six years older than Smid and with considerable health issues. I’ll go a little further out on that limb and say that Willie Mitchell’s contract is not one that’s going to be the basis on which Smid gets paid. It’s tough to forecast contracts when you’ve got a CBA between now and the time that Smid gets his deal but I’d expect it to be a lot higher. Guys who can play top four minutes will generally get paid.

    Larionov said his client Sergei Samsonov, the one-time Oilers winger, will be getting a tryout with the San Jose Sharks, if there is an NHL training camp. Samsonov, who was on the Oilers’ 2006 team, didn’t play at all last season.

    Matheson, today on Twitter: “may have jumped gun a tad on samsonov going to sharks camp. talking to several teams. agent is neil abbott not his friend larionov.”

    Larionov’s said his old KLM linemate friend Viktor Krutov, who went to the Vancouver Canucks with Krutov in 1989, died of liver problems several months back in Moscow.

    Matheson, today on Twitter: “mentioned igor larionov’s friend Vladimir Krutov dying a few months back in Journal story Monday but in brain cramp called him Viktor. ”

    Viktor, Vladimir, whatever. The really weird thing is that this was widely reported at the time. It’s like saying, today, “Larionov said that his client, Nigel Yakupov, was drafted by the Oilers a few months back.”

    This stuff with Matheson is low hanging fruit – truthfully, you can do this with a lot of his columns. That said, I tend to roll my eyes when I hear about how tough it is in the media world. The Journal actually has a guy, in Jonathan Willis, who could turn out stuff like this, only much more sensibly and accurately, and they confine him to David Staples content farm, churning out links to stories about stories with which to overwhelm Twitter. Maybe the Postmedia guys should try, y’know, having star writers who are versed in what’s actually going on in the areas that they cover.

    * * *

    Speaking of terrible journalism – Mark Spector has a real beauty up at Sportsnet. To the credit of some of the other guys who are clueless about business and legal issues, they tend to avoid them. Spector tends to wade right in.

    (Eberle and Hall) are playing in a city that has historically struggled to retain its good young players, another factor that sets these negotiations apart.

    Best players to leave Edmonton and the age at which they left:

    Wayne Gretzky: 27 years old
    Mark Messier: 30 years old
    Paul Coffey: 26 years old
    Jari Kurri: 30 years old
    Glenn Anderson: 31 years old
    Grant Fuhr: 29 years old
    Kevin Lowe: 33 years old
    Doug Weight: 30 years old
    Bill Guerin: 30 years old
    Ryan Smyth: 31 years old
    Curtis Joseph: 31 years old

    So three of them left before the age of thirty. One of them (Fuhr) was probably grossly overrated anyway and playing behind Conn Smythe winner (probably also grossly overrated, but that’s a separate issue). Coffey forced his way out in a pay dispute of the type that simply does not seem to happen anymore. Gretzky was sold because he was a depreciating asset and Peter Puck had bills.

    So really, there’s little truth to the argument that Edmonton has historically struggled to retain its good young players. What Edmonton has struggled to do, historically, is find and develop good young players. By and large, those who were found and developed were happy to stay in Edmonton so long as the Oilers were able to pay them at a competitive level. Does anyone doubt Edmonton’s capacity to pay Hall and Eberle market wages going forward?

    It’s another example of a curious phenomenon with Edmonton media: nobody seems to think less of Edmonton or be more certain that someone would leap at the first opportunity to get the hell out than these guys do.

    Know this: It is a slap in the face when the commissioner of the NHL is sitting across the bargaining table with the NHLPA asking for limits in contract length, while GMs are quietly trying to sneak long-term deals in under the CBA wire, behind Bettman’s back.

    Know this: that’s a stupid way to start a sentence. Also, how is it a slap in the face of the commissioner? One, that’s pretty obviously a negotiating position. Two, the current rules are what the current rules are. The entire negotiation of the CBA is premised on stopping teams from doing what they would otherwise do – make it rain, Pacman Jones style. Bettman is trying to engage in legalized price fixing. Nobody bothers to fix prices if the prices aren’t naturally higher than the price at which he proposes to fix them.

    It gives us a window into the competitive advantage between ownership and the players that you’ve read about before in this space. Because as much as we’re willing to bet that Bettman does not want Tambellini to sign Hall and Eberle to contracts of longer than five years, for him to call up Tambellini and express those wishes would be pure collusion.

    This is where Spector goes completely off the rails. Everyone likes to talk about collusion. You know where “collusion”, in the collective bargaining context, comes from? Baseball. It’s actually in the MLB CBA: “Players shall not act in concert with other Players and Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs.” I can’t find anything in the NHL CBA prohibiting it (the words “collusion” and “concert” produce nothing), although there likely are some restrictions that would apply which can be found in competition law.

    You know who were the first people in baseball to collude? You’re thinking owners, aren’t you? Wrong. It was Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, who held out together and forced the Dodgers to give them big money. The MLB owners freaked out about it and got that provision inserted in their next CBA. Then they proceeded to violate it in the 1980s and pay big money.

    Baseball actually had a system for quite a few years in the 2000s where Bud Selig did exactly what Spector describes as “pure collusion.” Players drafted by MLB had to be signed by the teams that drafted them. MLB issued what were called “slot recommendations” – essentially a recommended signing bonus. So basically, Selig called up GMs and expressed his wishes. Everyone ignored him.

    Also, this isn’t unknown in the hockey world. Cal Nichols after the Dustin Penner signing:

    “There was some negative feedback from some other teams to me and, frankly, from the league itself, and the only argument I had was that we’re like everybody else, we have got to sell tickets, we have got to be competitive and do the best we can, and that we are working within the parameters of the CBA and we’re simply trying to make our team better,” said Nichols.

    So what Spector is suggesting, Bettman recommending that the Oilers not sign long term deals, didn’t result in collusion charges in baseball and, in any event, there appears to be no such prohibition in the NHL CBA. What’s more, Bettman has commented publicly before on long term contracts, in the context of Rick DiPietro:

    “My reaction is two-fold. One, and I’m on record saying this long before this contract, namely I think under the type of system we have, it’s generally more prudent to enter into shorter-term contracts than longer-term contracts … because under our collective bargaining agreement, there is no ability to renegotiate a contract … With respect to this particular contract, only time will tell whether or not it was a wise move or a less-than-wise move.”

    Of course, the problem with Bettman’s position is that if lots and lots of other teams are handing out long term deals, you can then either hand one out or you can let your guy go somewhere else where he will get such a deal. In effect, the current system forces teams to make big long-term bets on the hand they hold.

    More Spector:

    In the case of identical, 13-year, $98-million contracts for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise however, agents for the two sides – likely directed by the Players’ Association – cooperated freely and legally in forging those contracts.

    If Oster and Ferris were speaking daily about their clients in Edmonton, as we’d expect they would, that would be totally above board. Tambellini, however, is on an island, allowed only to consult with those people inside his own organization.

    It is why we seldom look at a contract the way people are looking at Hartnell’s deal today, and say, “Why did the player sign that?” Yet so often we observe a long-term deal and wonder if the general manager has lost his marbles.

    This is insane. Tambellini is allowed to consult with people outside the organization. Bettman’s shared his views publicly on long term deals. I would expect he’s also expressed them privately to people. Of course, neither Bettman or any other non-Oiler has the interests of the Oilers at heart. Tambellini’s job is to make the Oilers as good as he possibly can (in theory anyway.) Bettman’s job is different – he looks out for the interests of the league in theory. Jay Feaster’s job is different – he looks out for the interests of the Calgary Flames. None of those people are going to be helpful sources of advice on how to make the Oilers great because they’re conflicted.

    What Tambellini is prevented from doing is entering into an agreement with the other 29 NHL GMs that they won’t try to poach players from one another. I don’t believe that there’s anything specific in the CBA about it but there is law on the point. Of course, entering into such an agreement would be insane when the players are guaranteed a fixed percentage of revenue. This CBA has less than a month left to run and one of Sportsnet’s stars still doesn’t get this. You’d expose yourself to legal action and pay out the same amount of money.

    Why do we seldom look at contracts and say “Why did the player sign that?” My guess is that it’s because UFA players have thirty potential teams to which he can sell his talents, it takes just one stupid team for things to get blown up and, in some cases, because there’s an information disadvantage between team and player. There’s an actual name for the one stupid team phenomenon – winner’s curse – and it helps to explain things like the Nikolai Khabibulin deal. The Oilers hilariously overestimated what “winning” Khabby would be worth.

    The information disadvantage happens less frequently than you’d think. It’s not going to really exist with RFA players or players under contract because offer sheets are so rare and the league has rules against tampering. The only time you can really see it happening is with UFA players for whom there is high demand (or for whom some stupid, stupid team, with stupid, stupid management thinks that there might be high demand). That’s not the case in any of the contracts cited by Spector, nor is it the case with Hall’s contract, which was signed today.

    Spector finishes with this:

    But in this case, it’s illegal to ask for permission.

    Well, no it’s not. Also you don’t need permission.

    Maybe Sportsnet will put up that paywall soon.


    27 Responses to Journalizm

    1. August 23, 2012 at

      haha, oh man.

      I was discussing the fading old media guards problems with a friend of mine today, particularly pertaining to paywalls. And you’re right – it’s not just that the barriers to entry for publishing have come crashing down and have therefore undermined the easy commodification of information that was the establishments business model; it’s that the product isn’t really worth paying for anyways in many cases, particularly relative to many of the alternatives.

    2. Thinker
      August 23, 2012 at

      I think you missed the boat on the “slap in the face” quote. I believe the writer was referring to the nhlpa, and not gary bettman in that instance. I agree with you though, edmonton journalists are was too negative, and the sportsnet people are brutal. If I have to listen to one more pun from gene principe, I will forego sound on oilers games. Thank god are media aren’t cocky like vancouver or toronto, but I would like to see guys like jonathon willis get a bigger say, as they are superior writers.

    3. August 23, 2012 at

      Heh.. funny piece. tend to agree with pretty much everything you have to say, except the fact I like the work of Staples, even if I know I won’t ever be able to make you do the same.

    4. August 23, 2012 at

      lol Spector is the absolute worst. Such a dolt.

      Recently he claimed that Bettman never said that lower ticket prices would be a result of the last lockout.

      Somebody immediately used this thing called the internet to immediately come up with three specific examples of him saying exactly that. And did so within minutes.

      What a tool. Fish in a barrel with that guy.

    5. Lee
      August 23, 2012 at

      Tyler, when you see an incompetent lawyer, is that purely the fault of the individual, or does the system that produced that lawyer share some blame?

      Journalism is an industry rife with systemic flaws and these flaws are only being exacerbated as the internet squeezes the margins and the production timelines of these outdated business models.

      The first and biggest flaw has always been the lack of standardised training. When an industry will accept both someone with a comm degree from Carleton and someone who’s completed 12 weeks of training at the Columbia school of broadcasing, and both can legitimately lay claim to the title of ‘journalist,’ then obviously you’re going to see vast disparities in professional competencies particularly with stories involving large degree of nuance or external expertise.

      Secondly, the question that springs to mind for me is why did Spector’s story pass muster with Sportsnet’s editor and/or fact checkers? Do we really expect a guy who basically attends sports events for a living to credibly assess the legal ramifications of the CBA, collusion, etc.? You’re absolutely right, Spector’s primary error here is the hubris of thinking he should wade in on this to begin with, but in reality, he was probably assigned this story by an editor, and the wisdom of that individual in first assigning this story to Spector, failing to adequately fact check it, and then ultimately approving the story for publication should be the primary concern rather than Spector’s misguided attempt to swim with the sharks.

      Finally, I think it’s a bit of an oxymoron in general to refer to sports reporters or sports columnists as journalists. Even in their own industry, they’re not held to the same journalistic standards as their colleagues in the news department. Yes, they’re expected to do basic fact checking and source corroboration, but rarely will a sports reporter work directly with or have their pieces vetted by legal as would someone breaking hard news. Even within those selfsame news departments, there is a hierarchy of cub reporters that handle fluff pieces, the local beat, etc. while an elite few grizzled vets can legitimately be tasked with tackling hard news and investigative features.

      It’s important to remember that we’re talking about an industry that dresses bleach blonde bubbleheads up in tight sweaters, places a nigh impossible demand on them to smile and discuss the weather at the same time, and refers to them as ‘journalists.’

      Finally, yes the Internet is forcing traditional media outlets to up their game. Now Spector has to compete against a guy like you for credibility on an issue like this. That’s a good thing for the content consumer and a bad thing for Spector. Unfortunately, the systems and controls that long existed in the media to properly vet, edit and fact check content are also eroding as these media outlets now race to publication so as to not be scooped by some independent with a twitter account. That’s a bad thing, especially when many of the populace (particularly the older demographics) still rely on these traditional outlets for factual information.

      Given your obvious interest in these issues, you may find this link illuminating.


      Finally, wouldn’t the first and most obvious example of collusion in baseball have been the 1919 Black Sox or do they not meet the legal definition?

    6. Marsha
      August 23, 2012 at

      These guys have got to use the internet before clicking submit (it is not only for porn) or read the CBA more closely. These guys need to retire, let some young blood into the industry or let bloggers in the circle.

    7. Godd Till
      August 23, 2012 at

      “You know who were the first people in baseball to collude? You’re thinking owners, aren’t you? Wrong. It was Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, who held out together and forced the Dodgers to give them big money.”

      Actually, owners colluded for decades to bar African-American players from playing in MLB, which was never an official rule but rather a “gentleman’s agreement.” You could ask Bill Veeck about it (he was apparently blocked from buying the Pirates when word got out he planned to stock them with black stars), but he’s been dead for a while now.

    8. August 23, 2012 at

      Spector is the absolute worst.

      No, there are worse.

    9. quirky mcjerk
      August 23, 2012 at

      My Twitter feed satisfaction quotient went up 15% after unfollowing Spec and Matheson.

    10. Pajamah
      August 23, 2012 at

      Geezus, the last 2 articles that I’ve seen linked here from Puck Daddy, and both have been “my dick is bigger than yours” from mc79.

      Tyler, your insecurities and inferiority complex show through when all you write about is that lack of talent MSM writers have.

      Guess what, if you were good enough, maybe you’d have awards, and maybe even paycheques for your writing.

      I could start a blog tomorrow talking about how much of a shit writer you are and it would be no different than what you are doing in this article to Matheson/Spector. They sure aren’t perfect, but some editor somewhere decided to continue paying them instead of hiring your malcontent self. Grow the f*ck up!

      • Mr DeBakey
        August 23, 2012 at

        OMG, a non-acolyte commenting on the writings of Mudcrutch.
        Now what do we do?
        How about:
        Oh Yeah? How do ya know it isn’t????

      • Doogie2K
        August 23, 2012 at

        You’ll show a measure of respect when addressing the 99th most influential person in hockey, thank you very much.

        • Josh
          August 23, 2012 at

          If I could rec this I would.

      • August 23, 2012 at

        YOU ARE WRONG.

      • Mike W
        August 23, 2012 at

        I like the use of “Geezus.” If it would have been “Jesus” that … well, it would have offended me, frankly.

      • beingbobbyorr
        August 24, 2012 at

        Guess what, if you were good enough, maybe you’d have awards, . . . . for your . . . .

        2009 Nobel Peace Prize: Barack H. Obama

        “After 10 years, over 60% of Best Picture Oscars are considered to have gone to the wrong movie.” — common wisdom in film criticism (http://hive.slate.com/hive/fix-the-oscars/article/the-10-year-oscar-re-vote)

        Guess what, if you were good enough, maybe you’d have . . . . paycheques for your . . . .

        The 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team (huge achievement, no paycheck)

        The Kardashians (no achievement, huge paycheck)

    11. Lee
      August 23, 2012 at

      If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say TD’s hopeful endgame is highly paid Player Agent or Team Capologist and not underpaid Sports ‘Journalist’

    12. August 23, 2012 at

      Populism is largely to blame for a universe where those who once talked themselves into writing jobs are still able to prosper. That’s how Spector can found in the same spot as Grange and Brunt.

      I still haven’t been able to figure out how that same universe allows for Friedman being forced to share the same screen as Stock.

    13. Art V
      August 23, 2012 at

      Seriously, there isn’t a sports writer in Edmonton worth his paycheque.
      Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Matheson has been putting his byline on AP wire copy for decades.
      Terry Jones has never written a paragraph with more than a single sentence in it.
      David Staples has been taking it up the @ss from Darryl Katz for so long the c@mshots are spewing out his brain hole.
      John McKinnon is from the village that’s missing its idiot.
      The last great writer this town was privileged to read was Cam Cole and he’s in Vancouver now.
      The only thing that surprised me is that some peoplee – any people – read the drivel these guys pump out, when there is so much more variety and depth on line.
      I expect my 85-year-old relatives to read the newspaper. But why does anybody else?

      • nat
        August 24, 2012 at

        Cam Cole is a great one indeed. Thoughtful pieces most of the time, and he tends not to write about something if he doesn’t have something to say.

        Although maybe that’s the luxury he has…not expected to pump out content like some of the other guys at the Sun.

    14. PunjabiOil
      August 24, 2012 at

      The best guy the Journal had was Dan Barnes. Not sure what he’s doing these days….

      • Doogie2K
        August 25, 2012 at

        Business editor. Just announced, actually.

    15. Wylie Times
      August 24, 2012 at

      Proteau is the worst, every article he writes is just dripping with bias.

      • Doogie2K
        August 25, 2012 at

        Dater actually blocked me on Twitter for calling him out on using Brodeur’s record in conference finals (last played nine years ago) as part of his ECF prediction. The stupid thing is, he had a bunch of good reasons to pick the Devils; I just pointed out that that particular one was kind of silly.

        Whatever. Thin-skinned twit.

    16. August 28, 2012 at

      Whoa. Just tried listening to that podcast. That’s tough listening – the sound quality is really, really bad. I ended up killing it a couple minutes in. :-/

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