Kukla's Korner


Where Do We Bloggers Fit In?

You enjoy blogs, don’t you? Silly question I suppose; you’re here at KK, and just as whatever meat and sauce you choose at East Side’s is still covering a heaping pile of pasta, whatever you choose to indulge in here is still a blog in one form or another.

Why, though, does it feel like bloggers are pulling teeth when we try to gain acceptance from the League and its teams? I have been thinking and preparing to write about the subject for a while, but a post this morning pushed the issue to the front of my mind, and it all came tumbling out, quite literally in fact.

Bloggers are here to stay, in part because they really aren’t such a new concept. Yes, the internet and the plethora of options it provides is a new feature, but blogging is just an extension of the ways of old. The people chatting at work, the ones gathering in bars, the others writing in to newspapers regularly, they are the people who helped spawn the blogosphere. The internet gave their passion and opinions a much increased audience, but they are still individuals with opinions at the heart of it, something that is not in any way new.

As it stands, you’d probably call a host of people with different aims ‘bloggers’, and we come from all walks of life. Many teams have their own bloggers, as do many newspapers. Some players (translated here) and other writers (recently moved here) choose to blog without any real association to their NHL-related employer. Oh yes, there’s also the rest of us, who you’ll find here on KK and all over the internet, often without any association to hockey outside the eyes in our sockets glued to the intense action known as hockey that we all crave.

What we do is different and unique. The player blog posts at the Senators’ website certainly works well to connect us better to the team, make us feel a stronger bond to the guys, beyond the plays they make on the ice. Alexander Nikulin’s blog was even more personal, drawing fans into his life as an Ottawa prospect, acclimating to North America both on and off the ice, though the inability of Nikulin and management to see eye to eye on his development may have erased some of the goodwill his blog created, although I speak as an Ottawa Senators fan whereas his blog is in Russian and likely intended for his fellow countrymen.

Other blogs give us insight and commentary we would not otherwise get from Mainstream Media (MSM). KK gives us sourcing from all over the MSM, and even some worthwhile parts of the Alternative Mainstream Media (AMSM). Sometimes you get to read and see coverage of a team with hilarity, and other times you get to listen to it. There are even times when AMSM can reach out and affect MSM, my own favourite being when I noticed a blog post in the summer of 2007 regarding Cup Run acquired Saprykin, and followed it up with not only my own post a couple days later, but emails to Hugh Adami and Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen. Although I can’t say I did all the footwork, I did receive a thank you email from Wayne before the story was published, and by the end of the month the Senators finally took Saprykin off their website’s roster.

That right there is a reason AMSM exists. Where there is a need, it gets filled. Sure, there is plenty of coverage in MSM, but the 30,000 or so hits KK receives each day show that plenty of people want more, and want it online as well. The uptake, however, has been both slow and incredibly varied. On one hand, you have clubs like the Capitals, where owner Ted Leonsis advocates embracing AMSM as he invites bloggers to his press box, along with the Canucks using bloggers to generate further interest, the Isles featuring select bloggers and inviting them to a special Bloggers’ Box at home games, and more. The hands of other NHL teams, however, remain very much closed.

Where is the motivation I hear some people wonder, and yet I myself wonder where the motivation is to have a press box in the first place? I’ll take a long shot and guess that the rationale remains that by having press in one’s press box, inviting them to practices, and giving them access to players and coaches, a team winds up with articles, columns, and greater exposure for the team. Sure, you don’t want AMSM getting this access and proceeding to disembowel the team, but I’m sure you don’t expect the starts of Tampa (0-2-3), Philly (0-3-2), or Anaheim (0-4-0) this season to reap bountiful press accolades, do you?

No news is bad news, the saying goes, so why is it that teams still want to close themselves off? Open the tap to AMSM, and you might find new ideas and perspectives that MSM simply haven’t brought forth for one reason or another. Sometimes you will hear GMs and coaches be disappointed with the rumours and negativity of AMSM, and yet teams sometimes choose to associate themselves with these sources nonetheless. You can hear the Sens Underground Podcast occasionally giving away team donated prize packs, despite the way they tore Redden and Mez-awful a new one last season, and speculate this season that despite being the player with the longest contract, Spezza may well be traded before his NTC kicks in next July. Even as some teams absolutely loathe the baseless rumours perpetuated by certain contributors to hockeybuzz, the Islanders BlogBox features The Bouncing Puck.

Maybe it is the responsibility of employed (and dismissable) writers that certain teams crave, their trustworthiness they question. Look around though, and you’ll find that many bloggers have their own affiliations to MSM, from Spector‘s work for both Fox Sports and THN to KK’s creator having a column hosted by NHL.com.

At some point too, you’ve got to think that the traffic through AMSM might warrant teams paying them more heed. Even as many keep us at arm’s length for fear of our perceived lack of accountability, bringing us into the fold, along with the ability at that point to cast us back out, creates accountability of its own. Ted Leonsis has strived to be at the forefront of the League, not only hiring a Capologist to help the team work within the new CBA, but also in asking Eric McErlain of Off Wing Opinion to draft guidelines for media credentials to get bloggers into the press box and in a way that fits the goals of the team, rather than having an outright free-for-all.

Do I believe that AMSM will get immediate and complete uptake? Certainly not. But at the same time, you have to wonder if certain owners are asking themselves if it’s the best thing to keep AMSM out of the fold, rather than bringing them into sometimes less than full press boxes, or following the Isles lead by putting them into what might have otherwise been an empty box elsewhere in the arena. Coverage is what you hear fans and the media talking about, ever since the NHL’s move from ESPN to Versus, along with the great difficulty involved in tracking what channel fans can find their favourite team on, barring blackouts or plain old complete lack of any broadcasting coverage at all.

How long before all the different viewpoints out there — be they based on stats, viewpoints, or opinions, and mixed with insight, wit, or a degree of thorough/longwindedness (one of the few things I feel I can lay claim to on occasion) — start to gain further acceptance and appreciation, and eventually become realized for the contributions they make to the League and its teams. There are countless arguments both for and against all the different forms of acceptance that could be and in some cases already currently are occurring, and as AMSM will never go away, the important thing at this point is to continue the discussion, the investigation, and the demonstration of fan support for AMSM, as the small steps continue to be made towards continuing to keep the NHL on the leading edge of more than just the use of the internet.

Filed in: NHL General, | 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

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