What a bizarre dynamic, this notion in some quarters of the Toronto media that somehow they and the Maple Leafs are above the game because – you know – hockey is very popular there.
Where does this come from, the idea that John Tavares somehow belongs to them and teams like the Islanders are not worthy?
Maybe it’s because the Hockey Hall of Fame is there. No wait, I got it. It must be all the Stanley Cups captured in Ontario over the last four decades.
After the lottery on Tuesday night, I wrote about how Leafs Prez Brian Burke would immediately go to work on his “fawning media corps.” Sure enough, he did yesterday morning. He called Garth Snow and then he let word out that he called Garth Snow. Of course, the media jumped all over it – never mind the fact the Leafs do not have anything of value to offer the Islanders.
Anyway, I received an email from a major Toronto sports columnist taking exception to “fawning media corps.” It was from a writer I’ve known for a while and I like and respect, in large part because he doesn’t fawn. He’s tough, he stands by what he writes and he doesn’t let anyone – let alone a GM or PR flak – try to tell him what to do.
But instead of him bashing me in the email for what I wrote, he managed to turn it into a dissertation of how hockey matters in Toronto and doesn’t on Long Island.
“Should I interpret ‘fawning media corps’ to be a reference to hockey media in a town where people actually care about the team and thus significant numbers of media people actually get paid by independent media organizations to cover the team, not just blog from their basements? Too funny coming from Long Island of all places.”
(Ah yes, the ol’ everyone-blogs-from-their-basements counterpunch. I’m surprised he didn’t say we all write in our pajamas at mom’s house).
The hockey haughtiness in some parts of Toronto can be a little scary. Correct me if I’m wrong, but did any local sports columnist write that A.J. Burnett should sign with the Yankees and bolt the Blue Jays because baseball is much more popular in New York?
Funny thing about that email on Long Island’s lack of passion for their hockey team. Around the same time the Toronto writer sent it, Islanders fans were pounding this blog with more than 300 comments in the first 20 minutes after I posted a draft poll.
In Toronto, you have a Sun columnist telling John Tavares for two months that he shouldn’t join the Islanders. There’s the recent piece in the supposedly higher-standard Globe & Mail advising Burke to essentially tamper with Tavares (“the right phone call here, the proper whisper there.”).
A radio reporter breathlessly bragged in his online column about how he called JT right away to tell him the wonderful news that Burke wanted him. Okay, while you’re at it you might want to let the kid know the Leafs don’t have anything to offer. Remember now, Luke Schenn – the next Scott Stevens, the way he’s billed in TO - is already untouchable.
And then there was the excellent, pre-eminent Star columnist who authored a fairly respectful column on the Islanders, but chose not to take one minute to make a phone call or Google to get some vital facts correct: “Owner Charles Wang is threatening to move if he can’t get public money for a new arena on Long Island.” Besides the fact Wang isn’t looking for public money, the deal is already done with Nassau County for the land and the entire project is centered around a renovated NVMC and not a new arena, the columnist got everything in that sentence right.
The Toronto writer ticked off about my “fawning media corps” comment and I exchanged some follow-ups. I told him my jab wasn’t aimed at him. I made my baseball in New York analogy. I defiantly boasted that he could thumb his nose at hockey bloggers in New York all he wants, but I work as hard and I’m as passionate about the sport as any writer in Toronto.
He countered that I should have been specific, that by taking a broad swipe at every media person in his city, I brought down a lot of hard-working people. That was completely fair, and I told him I was wrong to do that. For the record, there are countless members of the Toronto sports media who are outstanding, dedicated, accurate and who are not Leafs booster club members.
And then I informed him I write most of this blog in my den, not my basement.