Canucks and Beyond

Deconstructing the Shanahan/Canucks Rumor

07/15/2008 at 6:34pm EDT

imageBen Kuzma’s report in The Province today:

A U.S. report that unrestricted free agent Brendan Shanahan was offered and rejected a one-year, $2-million US offer from the Vancouver Canucks is inaccurate, according to his agent.

“I can tell you that I’ve never been approached or had any discussions with Vancouver regarding Brendan,” said Rick Curran, who added that San Jose and Montreal are not in the mix either.

Where on earth did this nonsense get started? What “U.S. report”?

I suspect this is what you get when hockey blogs and media collide…

The only rumor that we’d seen floating around regarding Shanahan and the Canucks appeared as fan speculation on HF Boards and the message boards, a couple weeks ago. It was linked to a blurb in some mainstream media outlet, but it was so-obviously without substance, even I ignored it. (Which is saying a lot; I would’ve loved to have run with a “Shanahan to the Canucks!?” rumor… that would’ve created all sorts of fun arguments around here).

So the first thing I did this morning was write Ben Kuzma, asking if he wouldn’t mind sharing the source of this report—but he’s either unavailable or simply chosen not to respond. Fair enough, and no matter, because it turned out I didn’t need his answer once I checked out the latest blog post at Sharkspage today which gives you a clue about what happened here.

In his post, PJ remarks:

An “open source” rumor from Daniel Sallows that the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens are interested in 39 year old veteran Brendan Shanahan after he turned down the Vancouver Canucks.

An “open source” rumor is a good way of putting it, alright.

Daniel Sallows is one of many writers at The Bleacher Report—a collection of “fan journalists” who write about the game. Any interested sports fan can join that website and write anything they like—and while I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot of great writing there, it’s certainly best defined as a blogger collective than a mainstream news source.

Anyway, the source of the rumors appears to be found in Sallows’s column three days ago, when he wrote this:

No Luck of the Irish for Canucks

After loosing both Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison to free agency, the Canucks made a pitch for UFA Brendan Shanahan only to be denied.

Apparently the one-year deal worth $2 million with bonuses wasn’t the main detourent in Shanny’s reason to reject the offer…

Sallows goes on to mention that Montreal and San Jose are both interested in Shanahan as well, a rumor-in-the-making that Kuzma also debunked in the article he published today, when speaking with Shanny’s agent.

But what confuses me about this is how the rumor demanded such serious attention in the first place.

No disrespect to Daniel Sallows is intended here, by the way. He’s a fan and a writer, and his bio claims as much. He also seems to be entertaining and with a solid readership. Furthermore, he should have gotten credit as the source of that “U.S. report,” if in fact he was.

But that The Bleacher Report is now considered a viable source for mainstream media to chase stories from—and that an excellent hockey writer like Kuzma felt compelled to follow up this rumor (whether he came by it in Sallows’s column or elsewhere) by phoning Shanahan’s agent—seems to suggest that hockey bloggers everywhere are more powerful than they think.

Well, at least that’s what I hope…

The only other option is that a reputable writer with the Vancouver Province seriously didn’t realize the source of this speculation was actually a fan site running with a rumor that no one else I know of spent any time taking seriously at all.


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