Kukla's Korner


Growing Frustrations With The League And MSM

This is bigger than a city, a rivalry; this issue cuts right to the bone of far too many.

I was forwarded an email by Paul from Pension Plan Puppets this morning. Yes, I, a dedicated Sens blogger, am now going to touch on the issue brought forth by, *deep breath*, Leafs fans, *deep exhale*, with as little rivalrous venom as possible.

After reading a blog post which touted Leafers as the “Most Valuable Losers Once Again”, PPP had enough.

Dear Most Valuable Losers,

Yesterday, continuing a long-standing trend, another Toronto reporter took his shot at Leaf fans. This time it was Howard Berger calling us “losers” (screenshot: one two) but we’ve seem the same cookie-cutter article before from virtually everyone who covers the team.

Quite frankly, we’ve had enough.

It’s time to leave the media superstars behind. There’s compelling, timely, wide-ranging content waiting just for you online in the Barilkosphere.

After reading both, it only reminds me again why we exist. I feel that I fully understand what PPP must be feeling, even though I cannot be sure how much Berger wrote was outward mockery, and how much may have been an almost Swiftian attempt at “A Modest Proposal” of his own. Whether fans and NHL-types look upon we bloggers and compare us to private medical clinics or black market operatives, the fact remains that the League and Mainstream Media leave something to be desired; there is a need, a void, and we are here filling it.

Yes, I know it should not be like me to take up arms with a Leafer, but whether you are a Sens fan or anyone else, can you say truthfully that MSM and the League are satisfying all your hockey cravings? At one point or another, we’ve all got to feel tired of the softball questions in interviews, the ‘no comments’, and the things that fail to sate our hunger or calm our anger.

For the Leafs, they are indeed in a logjam. Likely through its history, having almost all other Canadian teams fail (Ottawa closed up shop because the city was hit hard by that little thing, what’s it called? Oh, right, The Great Depression), and maybe some form of English vs. French rivalry pitted the Canadiens and Quebec against the rest of Canada when choosing fans, not at all the fault of the CBC’s broadcast choices or the Quebecois priority drafting options granted to the Canadiens.

The eons of Leaf dominance in the country have indeed filled the team with such a monopoly, such a dogpile, that they truly rule with an iron fist. You want MSM to provide critical coverage, but how hard do you think it would be for them to fill an empty seat in the press box? You want to show your displeasure by not watching the game, but on tv how many times are the Leafs favoured over all other teams, and have you seen the lineup for tickets, season or otherwise? Have you even tried to stop your relatives from showering you with the branded gifts every Christmas?

This is a monopoly shared in so many places as well, iron fist control that does not worry, knowing it has the strength to withstand you, while you don’t have the strength to go without hockey, or go to the lengths necessary to force a change. People protested, striked, and caused all hell to break lose not so many decades ago; today, you’re lucky if a chain email gets passed along by your brother to reach one more soul.

The Forbes ranking of teams based on value and profit shows quite clearly that there is very little the Leafs would ever want to change the fact that they have the most value, the most revenue, and the highest operating income (“Pension Plan Puppets” does seem to explain the frustration now, doesn’t it?). Maybe a rich, beer-league hockey player like Balsillie wouldn’t be such a bad owner after all, rather than an organization interested in maximizing profits.

Blogs may never be mainstream, and can rest pretty much assured that they will never be in the Leafs’ press box. But slowly, we might force change. How long does it take a fan to get tired of the same old ‘give it more effort’ between period interviews, all the softball questions and never-explain-anything answers? Eventually, fans move on.

I will admit I’m probably a very small blogger by nature. On the average day, I’ll get around 100 visitors to my blog. Maybe of interest to MSM and the League though: despite all the links I provide to their content, I can easily track how few ever follow those links to read on for themselves. I don’t know if that’s trust, laziness, or just having beaten me to the punch already, but I see something in the fact that people will come read me, but not move on to MSM or League sources. No, that is in no way a cocky statement: I really wonder myself why they don’t.

Credibility, perhaps? But what credibility is offered by MSM, when like us they are just giving their opinion? 99% of the time, they are following things more closely than us, but there are devoted, devoted fans out here in the blogosphere who go that extra mile.

I once saw a minor mention of Oleg Saprykin signing in Russia and trashing the Sens in a Russian interview. I posted it on my blog. I may not have been the only one, but I forwarded my info to MSM, and within a few days, the story came out there. A few weeks after that, the Sens’ website finally changed, showing him as being removed from the roster.

That’s far from all bloggers offer. They offer opinions, some with humour or honesty that MSM and the League simply can’t afford to offer. Even as much as Toronto Media loves the Leafs, I guarantee you will find faster updates on breaking news on blogs, along with stories that even they don’t have the space for, depths and ideas that they don’t have the time or space in their paper or broadcast to plunge into. I mean, come on, how much more in depth does analysis get than The Forechecker‘s work?

Slowly, word is getting out. Even as Bettman proudly touts ours as the most tech-savvy League, that savvy is leading more and more people to the blogosphere. Go out there, find an opinion, read something new that doesn’t feel tired, rehashed, and old. Maybe go back to MSM (I do), but that’s just one small corner of what’s available out there. If you want change, you’ll have to work a lot harder than anyone ever has, but at the moment there’s plenty waiting for you right here, right in front of you, right now. Go ahead and find something you can really enjoy.

Filed in: NHL Media, | SENShobo | Permalink


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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net