Every so often on Twitter, I give the gears to Dan Tencer, who hosts a radio show that fills the time whenever the Oilers don’t need an outlet with an interviewer who will apologize if he asks any awkward questions. After the Oilers signed Martin Gerber on Friday, I had an exchange with him that Jonathan Willis summarized over at Coppernblue.com in which I chided him for being so clueless as to the potential consequences to Khabibulin if he gets convicted. The tweet that started it all was Tencer saying “Too many cases of people doing worse and getting no jail time or flexible sentences…” which, as has been extensively covered in the mainstream media in Edmonton, let alone the alternative media that cover the Oilers, isn’t true in Arizona.
Anyway, Dan has come up with a post at 630 CHED to defend himself. He hasn’t bothered to link to me or anything, so I figured I’d Fisk it and then go drop a note in his comments so that his readers can see the other side of the story.
It was brought to my attention by a friend last night that I’ve been taking some heat on a couple of blogs that correctly surmise my lack of readership. The criticism, as I’ve now read, stems from a back-and-forth with one of the writers who has devoted a flattering amount of time for a number of years to assessing my work (he might use another word) in relation to the Oilers. Let’s see if we can get on the same page here, with the help of some perspective and, yes, a mea culpa.
Two big mistakes in this paragraph:
1. First sentence: As of the time that he wrote this, he was only “taking heat” on Coppernblue.
2. Second sentence: I don’t write for Coppernblue.
I think that Dan’s assessment that I’ve devoted a “flattering amount of time for a number of years to assessing [his] work” is off, although that’s a matter of opinion. As to why he’s come to that conclusion, it may be because he thinks that I write everything that is on the internet.
I’m not well-versed in the Khabibulin case. At least, not as well-versed as many. Why? My primary employment is at 630 CHED, a News/Talk/Sports station that employs many writers, anchors and reporters who are much more in tune and in contact with court cases and the minutiae that comes with them. Given the lead of our Assignment Director Brent Pushkarenko, and the assist of a reporter from the Arizona Republic who has been on hand for all proceedings, our news staff has stayed on top of the story and, for the purposes of CHED coverage, taken it off the hands of the Sports Department. CHED (and sister iNews 880) has reported on the case as often, if not more, than other media outlets. The difference, perhaps, is that the editorial decision has been made to run this story through the news operations instead of sports. Have I followed along? Yes. Studied past case law and the Arizona Revised Statutes? No.
The only time I’ve looked at case law in this case is when I was wondering about Khabibulin’s constitutional argument. I wouldn’t expect anyone in the MSM to do this, although I don’t think it’s unrealistic for them to call a lawyer and ask. Other than that, this is a complete red herring. You don’t need to study case law and the Arizona Revised Statutes in order to know what’s going on with this. It’s been reported in places like the Journal and, presumably, on Alberta’s Information Superstation, that there’s a mandatory minimum. All Tencer needs to do is read a newspaper or listen to his own employer. If he doesn’t listen to 630 CHED, I can hardly blame him – they employ some awfully shallow hosts – but, as a basic minimum, a reporter covering the Oilers should know that Khabby is looking at 30 days in the clink as a minimum. Even if you can’t be bothered to read the Oilers blogs, it’s been pretty thoroughly reported in the MSM.
And, forgive me for using this as an excuse, but as someone who works a great deal from September-June, July and August is where I take most of my vacation. I don’t distance myself as much as some do on their time off, but in short form, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m not spending weeks off or weekends doing Khabibulin homework. And, perhaps contrary to popular belief, late July and August can be a pretty tough time to generate 3 hours a night of engaging and entertaining sports talk in Edmonton. That’s only to say that I’m not sitting around on my ass doing nothing at the studio during the week.
Yes, it’s understandable that he isn’t really up to date on the story, given that Khabibulin was arrested in February. February is part of late July and August, right?
If late July and August are such a tough time to generate “engaging and entertaining sports talk”, perhaps it might be interesting to call a DUI lawyer who practices in Phoenix and have him as a guest to discuss some of the issues that arise out of this case. I’m not going to quote it but Tencer makes the fair point that there are a lot of hypotheticals here with respect to plea bargains, guilt and immigration issues, which is true, but if you talk to an experienced lawyer, he or she can probably narrow a lot of that down. I’ve commented that, based on my own experience with courtrooms, I would think if there was a plea bargain, it would have been done at an earlier appearance. I don’t practice AZ criminal defence but an experienced lawyer there could interpret a lot of what’s happened and shed some insight on this.
For those scoring at home, I’m still standing by my guess that Khabibulin will be at Oilers training camp.
This is a completely dishonest way to put things. Here’s the exchange in which Tencer made his prediction:
# TENCER: “As was just pointed out to me…Tamby wasn’t lying when he said he wouldn’t go to camp with 3 goalies. Lol”
# DELLOW: “You sound pretty optimistic that Khabby’s going to be there and not roasting in an AZ prison.”
# TENCER: “Too many cases of people doing worse and getting no jail time or flexible sentences…”
# DELLOW: “See, this pisses me off. Have you bothered to learn anything about how it works in Arizona? YOU COVER THE TEAM FOR MONEY.”
# TENCER: “All caps, eh? Geez, it’s Friday man! Chill. We’ll see how it plays out. If warranted, yell after. I’m betting on Khabby at camp.”
So when he said “no jail time or flexible sentences” in the lead up to “I’m betting on Khabby at camp”, what he meant was “He’ll go to jail but turn up at training camp before it ends”? Right. It’s a completely false characterization of the dispute. If he’d said that, I wouldn’t have disagreed with him.
What I can tell you is that, according to various hockey operations people from around the league that I’ve pestered about the issue at one time or another, there’s very little belief that an attempt to negate Khabibulin’s contract would be successful. The article pertaining to a situation like this in the Standard Players Contract (the morals clause) is extremely vague and, in terms of terminating a contract (without mutual agreement), there’s no precedent to go off of. If Khabibulin were to miss mandatory work sessions (training camp, practices, games etc.) then a suspension is obviously within the Oilers right, but I would think it would have to be much more significant than less than 10 days of training camp for a termination to be upheld. I just don’t see them trying to engage that option.
Holy cow! Actual reporting! It kind of falls apart at the end though, where he says “…I would think it would have to be much more significant than less than 10 days of training camp for a termination to be upheld.” As has been pointed out here previously, the SPC says that you can terminate a guy who fails to “…if the player fails to render his services hereunder or in any other manner materially breaches the SPC.” I’m not sure how Tencer has decided that not showing up for training camp (which is specifically required in the SPC) doesn’t count as “failing to render his services hereunder.”
Interesting that there’s no precedent either. You don’t need precedent to go argue a point and with Khabibulin’s contract probably exceeding his value by about $6MM or $7MM at the moment, I might be inclined to go argue the point if I were the Oilers.
To finish, I’d like to put aside the sarcasm and address the members of the Oilogosphere for a moment. It goes without saying that you make me better. You give the fans another option. Competition, competing voices make me better. Or, at least, I hope it does. The Khabibulin case is a perfect example of a story that I’m simply not able to cover in the same detail as Dellow or Willis. Expertise aside, Arizona case law isn’t something I’d assess to be a huge ratings winner on my talk show. I find myself more than busy chasing other stories that I determine to have a higher priority and thus, am not blessed with the time to devote to this case in particular. The fans are lucky to have writers that have, or find, the time.
I’m not sure how the Oilogosphere makes Tencer better when, as he said at the opening, he doesn’t read it. I suppose he’s better because he occasionally gets publicly shamed into doing some research. He’s being dishonest when he tries to make this about Arizona case law though. That’s not the story and you don’t particularly need to understand Arizona case law to understand this story. The story here is that Khabibulin faces a very real possibility of not being available to the Oilers when training camp starts and the Oilers have at least an arguable case (I actually think it’s pretty good, based on my knowledge of the CBA) that they’re permitted to terminate his contract. Whether they will, why they do or don’t…that’s the story. All he’s offering are excuses for piss poor reporting.