A Case of Transparency

Before the Toronto Maple Leafs played the Boston Bruins on Saturday night, Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said to the media that Jonas Gustavsson would likely start in goal. James Reimer was just cleared for game action that morning, and against the scorching hot Boston Bruins, why put your goalie in a baptism of fire upon his return?

When the Leafs came out for warmups that evening, Reimer was taking all of the shots. The media panicked. Ron Wilson lied! "Why is Reimer starting?!" they asked. James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail caused a Twitter feud with Leafs faithful after trying to find reasons for the confusion.

If the Maple Leafs had won that game in the wake of the lie, all would be forgiven, and all would be forgotten. Sadly, that didn't happen. The Leafs lost to the red-hot Bruins 4-1. Reimer made 23 saves on 27 shots in the loss. 

Ron Wilson proceeded to tweet, in rather uppity fashion, "Favorite movies: Liar,Liar; The Invention of Lying; Big Fat Liar.  HaHa!"

Back in Philadelphia, Chris Pronger had been out of the lineup for several games with what was deemed a virus. Days later, Paul Holmgren revealed that the "virus" suddenly turned into immediate knee surgery that would keep Pronger out of the lineup for another month. Yet another dose of transparency from team officials.

Pronger was interviewed and he confirmed that the virus was indeed real, but the knee surgery was kept on the down low. This was obviously a move to shield a pressing injury to a monumentally important player in Philadelphia. 

In the New York Times' dazzlingly haunting three-part feature on Derek Boogaard, he suffered several concussions that were described as shoulder or back injuries to shield him from further head contact. The knots on his head prevented him from slipping his helmet on his head. Chilling.

So in the shoes of the media, why should they be so angry? Teams are just trying to shield their biggest assets from further injury. This should not be a problem. However, since two of these stories happened in two hockey hotbeds—surprise. It's a big deal. Also, in the vacuum of the 24/7 365 breaking news culture, everyone needs to be first with their exclusive, and breaking the story is like a badge of honor.

This sort of transparency happens all the time with hockey media. Even as the media director for the Millersville University hockey team, I run into several things I can't say or make blatantly obvious. It's all about the art of shielding your most important assets.

So you screwed up once, media members. It happens. Dust yourself off, get over it, and move on. There are more stories to be told. At least Wilson didn't put on his troll face and didn't say Reimer would start against the New York Rangers and start Gustavsson. I would worry more if I were a writer that was wrong all the time. Or if you're Brian Burke, you're just worried all the time that everyone is wrong.

It comes with the territory. People lie. These examples speak of a real world application. So, to you media types, quit whining. Let's move on with our lives, shall we?


Follow Jordan Kuhns on Twitter (@jckuhns), and be sure to check out http://www.GrinderThreads.com for the new official TCL shirt!



Patrick Storto's picture

I'm certainly not a fan of Ron Wilson, but I don't have a problem with this. Wilson doesn't owe it to the media to make sure that all of their stories are straight. I know this had Toronto Star writer Damien Cox all bent out of shape, but again it's not the team's job to make the media's job easy.

Jordan Kuhns's picture

I saw that. One of his points did make sense...perhaps teams should focus more of their energy on just taking action rather than taking all steps possible to keep the nosy media away or on a different path.

George Prax's picture

Great piece Jordan, and I wish you had expanded this to fit the whole Markov situation going up here in Montreal. Before the season it was "he shouldn't miss more than a couple of games". On December 3rd, it was "3 more weeks and arthroscopic knee surgery", and then on Monday it was "the surgery was successful, but now it's 4 to 6 weeks". Anytime someone asks the coach he gives the most ambiguous answer. Meanwhile, the fans are going insane. What does lying and being sneaky about injuries accomplish, other than rile people up? It's ridiculous. The NHL needs to have an injury disclosure policy, especially in today's concussion era. Another example:

Max Pacioretty breaks Kris Letang's nose on a headshot. Letang goes to the back, gets his nose unbroken, claims to have received a "concussion test", all in the span of less than ten minutes, then comes back to score the winning goal. Well, he hasn't played since, and as it turns out, he has a concussion. All this on Sidney Crosby's team. What if he fell and hit his head again when he came back?

Want another? Ryan Miller. Did Lucic give him a concussion or not? A week before he comes back he says that Lucic didn't give him a concussion, just whiplash, and people neglect to mention he went down hard after that hit too. The Sabres neglect to properly disclose injury so they can get Lucic suspended easier.

There's a big problem here, and I don't know why people can't see it.

Jordan Kuhns's picture

Since you used "whiplash", I'll hit you with James Reimer. At first it was whiplash, then it was a concussion...I think the Leafs' management collective are the biggest liars in the league!

In any case, it's almost like a competition in that sense, too. We all knew that the Sabres wanted Lucic suspended like crazy. It's almost becoming some sort of gamesmanship. I don't like it one bit. You have to make some sort of rule, and if you don't get away with breaking that rule, then your team should face a serious ramification.

This is player safety we're talking about here. One read of the Boogaard story, and I think teams might change their tune on being so lenient.

George Prax's picture

I don't think it's gamesmanship. I think these teams actually believe that they're protecting their players' safety by not disclosing injuries. Which is ridiculous, because letting Letang go out there with a concussion is better?