The Media Strikes Again

In business we learn that capitalizing on trends means a future of healthy profits. In journalism we are taught the same thing, trends are what sell.

For the past few years there has been a couple of healthy trends in the hockey world; trade rumors and of course anything Canadian.

TSN, CBC or any of the major players in the hockey coverage world brought in their own ‘insiders’, they increased coverage on the Maple Leafs, Canadiens, or any other Canadian team. TSN the main to capitalize on these trends benefited the most; they grew exponentially over the past few years and now are one of the largest sports media outlets in the world.

Today I wanted to discuss the latest and most interesting trend that is starting to appear; it’s cool to hate on the Leafs.

The idea of an All-Star Fantasy Draft was a unique one. It was new and it added some hype to the event. A lot of writers will tell you it was overhyped by TSN, as is most important days in the hockey season.

But the thing that was ‘overhyped’ was the draft’s last pick. So much effort was put into “What is going to happen to the person picked last?!?!” It got to a point that when Toronto’s Phil Kessel was Mr. Irrelevant, the fans immediately had a field day, laughing hysterically at the misfortune. Following suit, the folks over at TSN began analyzing the fact the Brian Burke’s star acquisition was considered the worst of all the all-stars.

The fact remains, Kessel was an all-star. Not to mention the fact that every player picked before him save a few were picked because they were ‘buds’ with the captain. To quote the line said before every pick “This next pick, he’s my boy _______(enter players name).” That line became a cliché by draft’s end.

The reason why Kessel was ostracized and the fact that he was the last pick was emphasized was simply because of the newest trend emerging in the media business world is: fans love to hate the Leafs. Write an article about how the Leafs lost the last seven out of their twelve contests see how many more views it gets than saying the Leafs won the last seven out of twelve.

Secondly, and lastly I’d like to mention the NHL player polls. To state for the record, I love the player polls. It gives the average fan a chance to see what the players think about common questions fans answer on a day to day basis. As a result of this poll, Leafs coach Ron Wilson, was voted the coach whom the players would least want to play for.

It’s not the biggest deal, however. Players who don’t want to play for him could mean so much more than “Wilson is a bad coach.” Maybe players don’t want to play for him because he demands a lot out of his team or because he coaches a team with a losing record.

But, lo and behold articles after articles hit the web, especially out of the main media outlets, about how players thought Wilson is terrible, and the worst coach in the league. Proving yet again, the media is starting to capitalize on the Leafs hate trend.

What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing. I decided today to try and enlighten a few fans on subjects they don’t normally think about. Maybe it’ll even deter a few people from watching TSN for more than just the games. Personally I don’t care. I simply just don’t like media outlets blowing stories out of the water for the purpose of a reader increase. I instead like to call them out for it. Believe me or not, look at the evidence and judge for yourself.

Demand more out of your media. Demand hard hitting articles that truly capture your interest like they use to.

Matt Reed
Writer for The Reed Review, The Checking Line, Hockey Independent and Inside Hockey
http://twitter.com/NHLMattReed

5 Comments

George Prax's picture

No offense but this is the exact same post Daniel wrote a couple of days ago. And I disagree with every word of it. Kessel wasn't picked last because he's a Leaf, he was picked last because they didn't want to do it to a veteran or a player who's only been in the league a year or two. Of course the captains were going to pick their friends, what would be the point if they didn't? The only reason people are complaining about this is precisely because he was a leaf. Fans (as well as the GM) were unjustifiably hurt by this and are blowing it out of proportion.

And FYI, there are plenty more players in the league that have played for Wilson than the 25 or so that have played for the leafs this year. People use the 600 win excuse as somehow meaning that he isn't a bad coach, but just because the current leafs, that, you know, work for him, say he isn't bad doesn't mean he isn't. Maybe we should ask the people who played for him with the Sharks or Caps, or former leafs, players who's ice time isn't threatened by saying something negative. Please.

It's funny how take literally the most irrelevant event of the year in the all-star game and demand something more because of it from TSN. Maybe read a few Darren Dreger or Bob McKenzie blogs. Or listen to what Pierre McGuire has to say outside of his play by play. Or even pay attention to Dave Hodge, or the newly acquired Steve Kouleas. it not all fluff with TSN.

Yes, people hate the leafs, but it's because they're easy to hate. And Wilson IS terrible. Kessel's a good player (not 2 first picks-worth good but still good), and that's exactly why leafs fans shouldn't feel like their pride took a hit because he was picked last. It was all in good fun and the only people who are overreacting are a few bloggers and brian Burke, to be honest.

Matt Reed's picture

George did you even read it?

I didn't say anything about Kessel being picked last solely because he is a Leaf. The player poll about Wilson contained over 300 NHL'ers not just Leaf players (do your homework).

No one is feeling sorry for Kessel this article has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the media focusing articles on things that capture the readers quick attention. This is not Daniel's article but it sounds like his is the only one you read.

George Prax's picture

"The reason why Kessel was ostracized and the fact that he was the last pick was emphasized was simply because of the newest trend emerging in the media business world is: fans love to hate the Leafs."

Your words. Implying that he was "simply" picked last because fans love to hate the leafs.

And the point I was trying to make was exactly that the poll was 300 players from all over the league. Ron Wilson is the leader in most games coached among active coaches. He's 6th all time and by the time he's done he could very well be 2nd. I don't have the numbers in front of me (sorry I didn't do my homework professor), but I would imagine that a fair amount of players polled have played for him. When you factor in that they probably asked more multi-team and veteran players than rookies, and the odds of polling a Wilson-coached player are even higher. So it's not like everyone who picked him just hates the leafs. There's a reason he's the 6th highest coach on the most games list but nowhere near the top in most playoff games coached.

My point is that people read into these things the way you are because they're leafs. If the last player picked was Olli Jokinen and the worst coach was Jacques Martin when they were in Florida, this wouldn't be news. If anything the reality is quite the opposite of what you're saying.

I'm not trying to say that the media doesn't take advantage of the "quick attention" type of stories, they obviously do. They have to, or else they won't get your attention. Do you think TCL would be popular if we just posted nothing but game previews and recaps? No, we post stuff like this, the Leafs flowcharts, controversial trade rumors and takes on issues because we know it will get people's attention. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it hits, sometimes it misses, and it's the same with TSN. You're writing off their entire network because they make a big deal out of some things that aren't. But you're ignoring the good things they do as well.