Saturday, December 16, 2006

Another Journo's Shameless Attempt at Leaf Bashing

I’ve noticed that the Globe’s hockey blog is pretty much arid when it comes to comments. Despite a few explicit attempts to get some feedback going, the feedback pages are as empty as the Leafs win column this month.

I’ve also noticed that I’m reading less and less mainstream media coverage of the NHL – I can get far better insight, funnier jokes and more robust two-way communication from the sea of hockey blogs out there.

What ties these two thoughts together?

Well, look no further than Ken Campbell’s embarrassingly bad entry at Globe hockey this week.

I haven’t missed Cambell's coverage in the Star, I haven’t read him at the Hockey News (is there a less relevant sports paper these days?) and if his entry at the Globe is anything to go by, he’s either in desperate need of an editor or desperately trying to get the comments flowing. (Campbell did manage to drum up 3 whole responses, which might tie the record for most feedback on that page.)

Mr. Campbell’s poorly written piece closes with this wonderfully original, much-needed, timely, groundbreaking insight - he writes of Leafs fans:

“And then they wonder why people in Edmonton and Montreal laugh at them all the time.”

Oh do we wonder. Of the five or six Leaf Blogs out there, I can't think of any other topic we have covered more.

Consider PPP's five part series on the laughter coming from Alberta. Or Ninja's disturbingly prescient piece at Raking Leafs on what formal recognition of the Quebecois could mean for Habs fans who laugh at Leaf fans "tout le temps/ ce n'est pas une perte de temps" - amazing stuff coming from an American. And then there's the biggest one of all - Wardo's off-shoot blog - far more popular than all of our sites combined.

For Leafs fan is there a more powerful or damning symbol for all of this than that famous La Vache Qui Rit label with the cow photoshopped into a Habs jersey? As Leafs Nation, we can't stop asking - the herd is clearly laughing at us, but why? WHY!?!?


Well, I certainly can’t speak for Leafs Nation, or my fellow Leaf bloggers, but I’ve never wondered why people in Edmonton and Montreal “laugh at us all the time" (if they even do). But I can give you a pile of reasons in about as much time as it took Campbell to assemble that mess of a post (i.e. about 45 seconds).

  1. There’s a tremendous amount of provincialism in this fine country of ours. When I lived in Alberta (’98?), I was categorized as an “easterner” and was routinely assigned the blame for the National Energy Program (enacted when I was nine; I must have been the most powerful grade 4 student in North America – hell, if I had that kind of power I wouldn’t have messed around with Trudeau and federal price controls, I would have been far too busy that year making sure the Leafs drafted Jari Kurri, Steve Larmer, Bernie Nichols, Kelly Hrudey and Craig Ludwig); I was also nearly tossed from a cab for my alleged role in fixing federal elections; lectured on my ability to keep the masses from reaping the benefits of an elected senate and took heat for the majority of the CBC’s bad programming decisions. And people who had never been east of Lloydminister would often tell me how much they hated my home town (just imagine what they must think of Hamilton or what they might have shared if we knew each other better).

  2. Folks resent having the Leafs on their TV every Saturday night and the blathering media machine that follows. (Bob Cole reminds me of my poor grandfather who, in his old age, often mistook replays for live action and would be amazed that teams could score identical goals back to back to back).

  3. There’s an inverse relationship between MLSE's on-ice success and the strength of the franchise that many find disturbing. The Leafs haven’t won anything and likely won’t for some time, yet there we are, the dazed members of Leafs Nation, week-in week-out following the team like some sort of zombie convinced that this is the year the Leafs will win the cup. Really, this is our year.

  4. When the Leafs are on the road, Leafs Nation can be a troubling house guest.

  5. In all sports, there’s a team or teams that everyone loves to hate (Cowboys, Yankees, Bosox, LiverpoolMan U) and in hockey for most of the world it’s the Leafs.

Now, introspection isn't a reporter's best friend, but if the media ever wonder why the IBP are laughing at them all the time, they need look no further than Mr. Campbell.


  1. Anonymous3:06 pm

    A special part six is coming out in the new year.

    That was a great post. I am guessing someone told Campbell to rile up Leafs fans to get some comments. That is the only explanation for taking an innocuous event and turning it into a sign of MLSE's evil.

    It hurts that you lumped in Liverpool with teams that fans love to hate. I suggest you change it to Manchester United or Chelsea, two truly evil teams.

  2. Anonymous12:06 am

    Even if fans in Montreal and Edmonton are laughing at Leaf fans, does anyone actually care?

  3. I used to think Ken Campbell was an okay writer for the Star, until I saw a few of his half-assed pieces he put up on THN.

    For instance, his penetrating exposé on why he thought Kaberle was going to take down the Norris.

    I mean this in all seriousness - how do some of these guys get their jobs? Strachan is one of the worst writers I've seen in print, and he can be read coast-to-coast in Sun Media. Garrioch, many mediocre names.

    Back to the "laughing at Leaf fans" bit - I was actually going to put this up in the next day or too.

    My favourite book is called, "The Rebel Sell" - a philosophy book on consumerism, and how culture can't be jammed. For a quick breakdown, visit the Wikipedia entry. I found the book fascinating, and evidence of the ideas inside can be seen every day in life. It's written by a U of O professor, Joe Heath, and a Montreal researcher, Andrew Potter.

    Well, Potter has a blog on Recently, he's put up a couple of shockingly insulting posts, literally calling Toronto fans "idiots", saying that the team will "NEVER" win another Cup, among other breathtakingly rude and stupid statements - all the more so since my impression of him, from his work, was that he was a very intelligent, reasoned man.

    In his entries, he called Leaf fans fools for backing a losing team. I wrote to him, explaining the obvious flaws in his reasoning (if fans only watched a championship team, there wouldn't be a league for long), and he fired off an insulting message to me, basically saying I'm an idiot as well for following the team. I found his attitude bizarre considering how well thought-out I found Rebel Sell.

    Anyway, look for an upcoming post where I lay out the details, and I'll provide his email so he can be spammed with, "you were farting on the couch while Joe Heath wrote Rebel Sell" messages.

    PS, if they laugh at us out west, why do so many Leaf fans come out when Toronto is in town?


  4. Anonymous10:29 am

    I have never understood the argument that Leafs fans are idiots for supporting a team that hasn't won a championship in 40 years. I have heard it from people I KNOW are intelligent and should know better. It's not like Leafs fans don't clamour for trades or firings like every other franchise we just don't abandon the team. If anything, it makes us much better fans than most (ie. Edmonton and Calgary fans that basically let their team go bankrupt or Vancouver fans that were around in the early 90s and didn't reappear until the turn of the century).

    I don't even bother having the argument with opposition fans because I can see their eyes glaze over as they repeat 'Leaf fans are idiots! You guys suck! Real fans abandon their team!'

    And I forgot to mention your bit about not reading newspapers. I also get my information from blogs rather than the papers especially for the Canadian teams. Overall it is MUCH more interesting and insightful and generally hilarious.

    I'm looking forward to Wardo's piece.

  5. I'm not so sure that a lack of comments really signifies a blog's quality — just look at Off Wing Opinion's empty ones.

    Besides, Globe on Hockey has been going about six weeks, not nearly enough time to build an audience (let alone convince them to jump into the discussion).

    (I also don't think Ken cares a lick if the comments are flowing.)

  6. James - I'm not suggesting quality=comments (or vice-versa) I was just observing that many MSM blogs have a hard time generating comments/conversation.

    As for Mr. Campbell, he may not care a lick if comments are flowing and that's fine. My point remains: it was a sloppy post on a tired topic and just one more reason I'd rather read sites like yours, the aforementioned Leaf ones, MC79, BOA and others.

    Consider this - the list of blogs I look forward to reading is quite large and growing. The list of MSM sports coverage I'm reading is small and shrinking. I don't even know if there's a must-read sports reporter in this town anymore (and this is from someone who gets three papers a day and often hunts down the Sun sports section).

    As for building an audience and convincing them to jump into the conversation, I really like your use of the word conversation as that's what the best of blogging feels like. The best blogs have their own voice and encourage and generate engaging and transparent commentary - something the MSM is clearly struggling with. (Chris Young at JABS is probably the best example of someone who gets this; Damien Cox is a great example of someone who hasn't quite mastered this yet - a blog shouldn't just be a hole for another 500 word column.)

    I wish you the best of luck generating an audience and encouraging a dialogue over at Globe Hockey; however, clumsy posts like Mr. Campbell's aren't going to help. That post was like someone opening a conversation by telling me I was an idiot in 1994. It may very well be true, but it's old news. As far as opening lines go, it certainly won't encourage any sort of civil or on-going conversation, it doesn't make me want to stick around, and it's not remotely going to entice me into becoming a regular reader...

  7. Anonymous8:41 am

    bitter, that was sweet!

    full disclosure - I'm an expat 'Nuck in Joisey.

  8. Anonymous9:15 am

    Chris Young and Damien Cox are perfect examples of how some MSM writers 'get' the conversation aspect of blogs. CY puts up every comment (even a couple of misplaced ones on my part) and does a good job of jumping into the conversation. Meanwhile, Cox seems to think that a blog is more about allowing a lack of structure to his entries. He frequently does not publish comments (I know Ninja has mentioned it and I have had about 3 comments 'moderated') and never joins in the conversation even when his entries generate a lot of comments.

  9. Agreed. Cox uses his blog for his B-side ideas that aren't good enough for print.

    I've had numerous decent points go unposted - maybe because I think he thought they made him look bad.

    Also, in May, he wrote an entry talking about how goaltending was surely the area where Toronto was the shallowest (before they got Raycroft), and I wrote a longwinded post in response expressing my total disagreement - defense was certainly the worst area of organizational weakness at that time. (We had Telly, Aubin, Pogge, Rask, Ford, Racine - with those names, how can net be the area of biggest weakness? It's not a who's-who of future HOF players, but come on...)

    Anyway, he didn't post my comment, but he changed his blog to include wording I'd written in my original comment to soften his original stance.

    I've tried to catch him doing it again, but he hasn't.

  10. I doubt Cox is in charge of posting comments to the site.