I picked up a Toronto Star sports section that had been abandoned on the subway this morning. I probably should have stuck to my book.
I'm going to tread into CoxBloc territory here and I don't even know where to start. Cox assembles a rambling collection of "thoughts" on the Rangers-Leafs pre-game festivities; McCabe's gaffe; Tlusty's photos and comes to the strange conclusion that the Leafs have sold their soul.
Where to begin? Let's start with the pre-game shenanigans, in the print edition Cox writes:
Were [Stafford] Smythe around yesterday, the collective misbehaviour of today's Leaf millionaires would undoubtedly have made him throw up.So in the print world of Mr. Cox, one would conclude that the skirmish must be a pretty big deal. It's the first page lead (or lede for your print-junkies) it includes an exhumation of poor Stafford Smythe, and it produces the usual smug indignation from Cox.
For starters, you had the team and one of the veterans it counts upon for mature leadership, Darcy Tucker, rapped on the knuckles and fined by the NHL for participating in a truly adolescent scene last Saturday night in the pre-game warm-up with the Rangers.
But over in the electronic world of the Star it's a bit of a different story.
In his on-line "blog" (which is just another 500 word column that the Star insists on calling a blog even thought it has all the intimacy and two-way communication of K-Fed and Britney's marriage with about half the intellect) Cox writes of the skirmish:
I'd just like to know which one it is - blog=no big deal or front-page=lead item and big deal?
Everybody's up in arms about Sean Avery after Saturday night's Rangers-Leafs game, and to be sure this is a juicy story. But outrage? I don't think so. Peel away all the rhetoric and here's what you have: two guys pushed and shoved during the pre-game warm-up, said nasty things to each other and then fought during the first period. Big Deal.
Flipping back to the print story, Cox concludes the Avery-Tucker skirmish with this odd thought:
Try as they might to make it all Sean Avery's fault, the Leafs were, essentially, found equally culpable in the idiotic episode.The Rangers were fined $25,000 and the Leafs $10,000. Avery was fined $2,500 and Tucker was fined $1,000. The League said, "The unprofessional conduct of Avery in initiating this altercation...is the basis for this discipline....Tucker also bears some responsibility for his inappropriate response. "
So, the Rangers fines are 2.5x those of the Leafs. The League found that Avery was the initiator while Tucker only bears "some responsibility" and Cox concludes that the Leafs are "equally" culpable.
That's the strangest definition of "equal" I've ever encountered.
Next up: the McCabe give-away.
It was a bad pass. A horrific pass. A stupid play. Next...
Oh good, more moral indignation from Cox - just what we all needed - and this time it's poor Jiri Tlusty in the cross-hairs.
For those of you living under a rock, the kid took some naked photos of himself and emailed them to a woman, who promptly posted them all over the web. The fact that the Toronto media are only picking up on this today (it's the front page of the Toronto Sun) tells me these guys need to trade in their dial-up modems and check out this thing called the world-wide-web. Deadspin broke the Tlusty story on November 8 and it's been on Leaf discussion boards for days. That's a long time in this world of 24 hour news cycles and breaking stories, yet Cox only brings his faux-moral indignation to the table today, he writes:
...if this was a team of pride and tradition, Tlusty wouldn't have been in the lineup last night and Leaf ownership wouldn't have been hiding behind a press release.Really? A teenager sends a naked photo and he's disgraced a Canadian institution? For posing naked he should be sent to the minors? Is once having a member of Parliament in its lineup really the best indicator of quality? Has Cox ever watched question period? What's a bigger disgrace to the Leaf brand - a teenage prospect posing naked for a cell-phone photo or a paedophile ring being run out of Maple Leaf Gardens? Hmm...so many questions.
The youngster would be back in the minors, having disgraced what was once a Canadian institution – a team that once had a member of Parliament in its lineup – with his amateur porn shots. Ownership, meanwhile, would be vowing to make certain such foolishness never reoccurred.
Sure Tlutsy was rather misguided in sending those photos, but to call for his demotion in order to protect the Leaf brand - a brand that is somewhat sullied after 40 years of losing, managerial incompetence, criminal behaviour and other assorted f*ck ups is a bit rich.
That said, I do look forward to future columns from Cox calling for the suspension of Garth Snow for encouraging hot (well, hottish) girl on girl action. Keeping Robbie Schremp buried in the AHL for his frightening photos in a bad thong. Shutting down the NBA for the way players interact with fans (some of those guys are married!). The elimination of NFL franchises in Cincinnati and Minnesota (surely Cox would call for Fred Smoot to be sent out to sea, alone on an ice floe) and the future of Isiah Thomas outside of sports, perhaps as a squeegee kid.
Look, I'm not saying that athletes shouldn't be held to the same standards as the rest of us. I'm not saying that Tlusty didn't make a mistake and I'm not saying there isn't a place for some sort of moral decency.
But I'm sick of Cox being all incensensed and sanctimonious over what are essentially mistakes. A teenager posed naked; McCabe blew a pass; Tucker and Avery had a little spat - is this really the right fodder for the front page of a sports section? Can one really tie these things together and conclude that a franchise has lost it's soul? Is this really the best that Cox can do?
As an aside, didn't the Leafs sell their soul back in the 70s? I'm pretty sure you can only sell your soul once. It's just like the "city losing it's innocence" trope that lazy media types love to trot out - once that innocence is gone, just like one's soul - there's no getting it back.
As for Cox, if this is the best he can do and he honestly believes that last night was some sort of tipping point or threshold for the Leafs, it's time he heeded his own advice to McCabe and considers a move to a new market to ply his trade.