Greg Wyshynski: Missing the Point

A few things I want to point out about Greg Wyshynski's lack of actual reporting, and why this gives bloggers something of a bad name among those in the dying, though somewhat still prestigious, mainstream print media.  Don't get me wrong, Greg has some fine articles from time to time, and I'm not debating his success as a sports writer/blogger.  I enjoy his site, and I think it's a great place to discover the hundreds of thousands of hockey blogs around the world.  Perhaps you discovered this blog from his site.  But I have to disagree with him on something, just like I've disagreed with him here, here, and here.

Here is the story is question.  Please read it first:

First, here are a few things to keep in mind:

*Greg reaches a large audience with his blog.  This gives him influence among the casual hockey fan blog reader, whether he likes it or not.  What he writes resonates with a community of unique-minded individuals.

*Greg – I don't believe but someone can prove me wrong – does not profess to be a journalist, and is not held to the same Journalistic criteria as those members of the print and broadcast media.  He is a blogger, albeit one of the lucky few who get paid to talk about something they love for a living.

Okay, please jump for the Twitter log of Greg's realization and further understanding of the events as they unfold.  One more thing to keep in mind is that Greg has already written and published his Puck Daddy article at this time.

Greg begins by patronizing a few Kings fans that call him on his quick assessment of the Kings fans booing while a player is injured.  Questioning how Kings fans could know that Giguere would replace the injured goaltender – keep in mind, Giguere is the backup to the once healthy, now injured goaltender – seems a bit disrespectful, does it not?  How are Kings fans to know the goalie will be replaced, although the goalie is, you know, hurt.  Gann Matsuda, a respected Kings blogger – and member of the Staples Center press corps – quickly proves why Greg's statement has little to do with simple goalie changes.  Giguere – an ex-Anaheim Duck, the LA Kings hated rival – is shown on the scoreboard perhaps eliciting a negative reaction from Kings fans who still remember his glory days in Anaheim.  Greg "pops" that into his already written blog post, thus adding an eye witness account and expert testimony to a post he presumably had enough facts to write to begin with.  Remember that when you read it.  Gann then shows this is not just his opinion, but the majority opinion of members of the LA press corps (yes, a biased press corps, but one with knowledge of the situation).

Gann does much to refute the beliefs of Dave Nash, while Greg sticks to his "it wasn't just Giguere they were booing" story without really saying what he believes the Kings fans were indeed booing.

It's at this point we learn Dave Nash is an idiot.  The official Twitter feed of the LA Kings mascot, Bailey, chimes in on another theory of why the fans may have been booing...for what it's worth.  Greg claims that it's just "impossible" to tell who or what the fans were booing without knowing when Giguere appeared on the video board, despite having already written a post on the event.

All of that said, this happens well after the post was originally published.  Gann's input was added later.  Thus, Greg had a need to show the hockey world that the LA Kings were booing while a goalie was injured, though he admits after the fact that many factors could have contributed to why Kings were booing.

Greg makes two big mistakes in publishing this post.  First, the obvious:  He uses random people on Twitter as a source.  It's easy for random Twitter users to use the common Internet tactic of hiding behind their keyboard, thus giving them the power to say whatever they feel.  We know that; we've all been there.  Timothy Burke of Deadspin made this mistake during President Obama's nationally televised speech concerning Sandy Hook that just so happened to occur during NBC's coverage of Sunday Night Football.  It's easy to go on Twitter to find people saying the nastiest, meanest shit in the world at any given time, so I imagine it's easy to find people who need little reason to hate an opposing fan base at any given time.  People hate the Kings – lo, every professional sports franchise – nearly every day publicly on Twitter.  Likewise, if you ever need validation that carrots are great, cite this Twitter account.  This does not necessarily justify an opinion, though, because anonymous Twitter users can be anybody.  They can even be fake.

The second mistake, of course, is that Greg never actually comes out and condemns Kings fans, although this is what people assume to be the point of his article.  "Kings fans boo injured goalie" is the headline, thus the article is about Kings fans actively booing the injury of a person.  The object verbs the subject.  It could easily have read "Group of people react poorly to bad thing."  Insert "human trauma" for "bad thing" and now you add the human element, the true essence of the story.  You should show restraint, run for help, get a doctor, grab some bandages, call the injured man's next of kin – anything but boo and jeer his mangled form.

This isn't tactful journalism by Greg – the reporting of facts as they come in – nor is it a complete lambasting of a group of people.  He just says "Thing Happened," and only gives reactions of Kings detractors "fillet(ing)" the Kings on Twitter.  Nowhere does Greg say, "Kings fans suck," or, "The Kings need to connect with their fans."  One can assume he means this through his Twitter interactions, but that's just an assumption.  It's just that this thing occurred, so what do you think about it?  It's a mess of gray area and hypotheticals.  Perhaps we are supposed to feel something, or have an opinion, but we never know why.  I say this with the belief that 18,000 fans weren't booing an injured goalie.  But we wouldn't know that – or know what else they could possibly be booing – from reading this article.

So, that's leaves us with one question: What's the point?  Why write it if you 1) obviously don't have all of the facts from multiple witnesses or 2) don't have an apparent opinion conveyed within the story.  You have people on Twitter as your source, not reputable people attending the game (which you wouldn't add until later, in a sense giving a dissenting voice to an article not originally written to be a debate), just random people.  You are the Mant'i Teo of hockey bloggers, in this case.

Why does this bother me?  Well, for one, there are too many examples of poor "capital J" Journalism in the American media.  Everyone is a critic (this post included), but it goes back to the base of readers Greg reaches.  What is this telling his readers, and why is it informative?  Why write it?  What is he trying to draw from it.  People hating the Kings on Twitter is nothing new.  Neither is the act of booing at a sport event, or an opposing team or player for that matter.

Also, and yes, I am a Kings fan.  And if Kings fans were booing an injured player, that sucks.  But guess what, how does that change anything?  Will they kick people out of the arena?  Does this make LA a city of sin and debauchery?  In what way does this reflect on the Kings organization?  A few months ago Chiefs fans were believed to be cheering an injury.  So now if fans have any reaction to anything this reflects poorly on anyone other than the people making those decisions.  Will you travel to Los Angeles and  walk around, viewing the citizens as Imps from Doom, as if you are living in a post-Apocalyptic hellscape?  No.  Unless you are an idiot.  

We point out the follies in other teams players – and subsequently the fans of other team's players – because they don't stand for what we stand for.  Thus, bad fans justify your beliefs of a bad team.  Boo bad team, boo.  I hate the Ducks for no other reason other than they are a "rival."  I don't really hate the Ducks, though, which is where there is typically a misconception.  In reality, sports are just a fucking game.  But some people have a difficult time separating themselves from that middle ground, or gray area, of sports fandom and regular lifedom.  For Kings fans, Corey Perry is a dick, but so is your neighbor across the street.  But if you are a normal person, you would still give Corey advice on the right fertilizer to use on his lawn.

That's just my opinion, though.

On the Houston Aeros Departure

A part of hockey history will go away at the end of this season.  The Minnesota Wild will move their AHL affiliate, currently the Houston Aeros, to Des Moines to presumably be closer to the NHL club.  Here at LCOB we find this disappointing for a few reasons because we share a special attachment, even kinship, to the Houston Aeros.

Houston, like Kansas City, is not what you would call a "hockey hotbed."  What it makes up for in being three times bigger in population than the KC Metro, it loses points in location.  Sure, Dallas has seen it's share of successful years with an NHL club, but cities like Atlanta, Phoenix, and at times Miami have not.  Houston, like Kansas City, used to be on the shortlist of cities vying for an NHL team before we all learned how ludicrous it was to field another franchise south of the Mason-Dixon parallel, before the advent of your Seattles, Hamiltons, Winnipegs, and Torontos X 2.  Who would be crazy/bold enough to buy a team from an ice-centric sport and plop them smack on the Gulf Coast.  Houston, for lack of readily available research and a Gary Bettman interview, is not an NHL city.  But for no reason of its own.

Like Kansas City, Houston doesn't fit the demographic.  Who wants to move a team to this city, and why?  How will an NHL team turn a profit in these cities?  KC and Houston share these questions, as the hockey universe uses both as their troll jumping off point in regards to another American franchise.  With thought out quips about the lack of hockey fans in the city, to imaginative yarns of games played before uninhabited arenas, and the lack of understanding or knowledge among the locals of the scientific properties of frozen liquid, it should be easy to see why the NHL would, and should, never consider these cities for hockey, let alone life itself.  A plot so tired and passé that it takes everything in your power not to point out that the entire province of Manitoba has less inhabitants than the urban statistical area of Kansas City and that there is a good chance there are still more hockey fans in Omaha, Des Moines, Mid-Missouri, Wichita, Topeka and the entire Kansas City region combined (i.e. colloquially known as the "Chiefs Kingdom" supporting another single franchise*) than total Manitobans, for arguing with a fool makes one a fool themselves.

We share this pain, because it's easy to point out the flaws.  I do it regularly.  No Gretzky didn't grow up in either of these cities.  They don't play pond hockey in Houston, and if they play it here no one has told me.  But there is historical significance of the sport to fans in both cities.  Kansas City folks enjoy their hockey, as the Mavs hope to break the tenuous presence of the sport in the city.  Houston folks, obviously, enjoy their hockey.  See for yourself.  The Aeros rank near the top of the league in attendance, hovering around the 6,000 fan average per game mark, since 2006.  Plus, the Aeros have given their fans twenty years of uninterrupted hockey, one Turner Cup, and one Calder Cup during that time.  What's not to love?

Honestly, I have never met a Houston hockey fan personally, but like I said, there's a kinship between us tweener hockey cities.  Houston had what Kansas City hockey fans want, and that's a consistent hockey presence in the city's sports landscape.  The Outlaws didn't fill that void, mainly because no one knew they existed.  And as much as I hate to admit it, the Blades struggled to do so, as well.  But, the death of the Blades was like a slap in the face to those diehard hockey fans in KC.  Ten years, down the drain.  Just like the Scouts, just like Blues, just like all the rest.  And now the Houston faithful feel, after twenty years of loyal patronage, some asshole is going to yank away a part of their identity.  That's just business, baby.  Twenty years is just the price of doing business in the modern sports landscape.  Now the next step in the grieving process: uncertainty.  What's next for Houston hockey fans?

I wanted to get whimsical and liken the loss of the Aeros to the loss of a grandparent or older acquaintance, someone you knew, and now they are gone, and that part of your family legacy goes away with it.  Or something.  But that's not really the point.  Personally, for me, the Aeros are one of the few reminders of the existence of the Blades.  Without the Blades, hockey probably is not a part of my life, or many younger generations of Kansas Citians.  The Aeros, the Fort Wayne Komets, the Chicago Wolves, and the Milwaukee Admirals are all a reminders of the past hope of hockey in Kansas City.  The Grand Rapids Griffins are also a reminder of that, though we won't talk about their terrible existence for obvious reasons.  The Aeros bring back good memories, of simpler times, of the Cleveland LumberJacks and Phoenix Roadrunners, and how obtuse the shootout seemed way before the NHL ever thought about implementing it.  Houston fans don't deserve what's going to happen to their team anymore than we did when the Blades went away.

On a side note, seriously, how great is that logo?  The Aeros didn't change it except for a brief time during their transition to the AHL, but changed it back to the original mostly because the new one was dumb and unoriginal.  Great logos are hard to find today, especially some that have a touch of history to them.  Some that stick with a franchise forever.  The winged-wheel.  The Blackhawk head.  Chief Wahoo.  The Chiefs Arrowhead.

I know people in Iowa excited about this impending new team.  Good for them.  They deserve it – the whole city – because they want it.  Their old team got taken away, and now they got a new one.  Sunrise, sunset.  Though, the new team won't be called the Des Moines Aeros.  In fact, if it's called the Des Moines/Iowa Wild, I'm never setting foot in the state of Iowa again just based on their lack of creativity alone.

But don't you worry, the Aeros will return in some form or fashion, though hopefully it doesn't take fifteen years like it did the last time.  Heck, a new Aeros could even join the CHL, much like the new incarnation of the Quad City Mallards, and former IHL and CHL squad the Fort Wayne Komets.  If the Aeros do come to the CHL and the Mavs have another retro Blades jersey night while they are in town, I'll feel like a kid, you guys, falling in love with hockey all over again.  (heavy, wistful sigh)

Until then, here's a video of the Blades' Kevin Evans and the Aeros Steve Jaques dropping the gloves from the old IHL days.

Courtesy of the Department of Redundancy department.

*Yes, I understand the difference between the NHL and NFL.  Merely demonstrating a point.