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Monday afternoon mini-Deglaze

Monday, November 29, 2010

* I've been asked if a post on Dany Heatley is coming, in conjunction with his first visit back to SBP this week. The short answer is yes, but it will be appearing on Yahoo!, not TUC. Watch for the link on Twitter on Thursday.

* Mr. Eugene's short conversation with Elliotte Friedman prior to the Leafs-Sens game on Saturday left me wanting to jam my head into a snowbank. "Buckle up - we're going all the way this year?" Yes, I understand that optimism is nice, and a necessary characteristic for any owner, but that was downright embarrassing. An anonymous reporter remarked to me afterward, "If you don't talk to Melnyk before noon, those are the types of conversations you end up having with him." Um, ack?

* If you haven't seen it already - very sad news to report, as Five For Smiting is calling it quits. Paul was always my favourite Senators blogger, hands down. His writing was always thought-provoking, hilarious and he's been one of my biggest supporters (especially when the chips were down) from Day 1. If you appreciated his work the way I did, please go to his site and drop him a line. (By the way, the battle is on to get him to join Twitter....starting now.)

More later.

I just got off the phone with Ottawa Senators' VP of communications, Phil Legault and Chad Schella, the team's director of player services. Both were willing to speak on the record to me and offered an official explanation regarding the Daron Richardson press release, which was discussed the previous post.

According to Schella, the Richardsons came to the decision to release the details of Daron's suicide after discussions with their medical team and chaplin. "We never would have released it otherwise," Schella said. "(Luke and Stephanie) approved the statement and the specific words that were used. We've tried to help as much as we could."

The decision to pull the release from the website was made by the Senators PR department, as well as the club's president, Cyril Leeder. "We decided that two hours would be long enough to for it to stay on our website," Phil Legault said. "Obviously, once the statement gets out to the media, it's out there - you can't take it back, but we were also trying to be respectful for the family's sake."

When asked if the team had received any negative feedback regarding the release, Legault said that there had been none. "The family has been applauded for their bravery (in releasing the information.)"

There you have it. Much thanks to Phil Legault and Chad Schella for speaking to me, and credit to the Ottawa Senators organization for being willing to do so.

More later.

The past week has been the hardest one in my short writing career, which is ironic for two reasons: 1) Nothing happened to me and 2) I didn't write anything.

It was the events and the indirect actions of others that left me confused, angry and altogether unsure of my place and ultimate future in this business. Even now, I can't discuss the situation completely because of the repercussions it may cause, but I'll do my best.

It all started with the sudden and shocking news of Daron Richardson's death. The 14-year-old daughter of Luke Richardson died last weekend, and the news of her passing shook the hockey world to its core. The revelation that it was a suicide was hard enough to swallow so soon -- however, it was the details from the Senators' initial press release that truly caught everyone off guard.

I was taken aback by it, as were others in the business (Twitter truly is a glorious tool, as it allowed me to communicate quickly with reporters in the press box and those on the air at the time). The biggest questions: "Why was there so much detail in the release? Why did we need to know the cause of death and the breakdown of how/where/when/by whom she was found?" It was only something to ponder, until I checked in with my source, who is part of Luke Richardson's inner circle, and was aware of Daron's death before it had been made public. I told him of the details in the press release. "How do you know all that?" I told him it was all in the statement. "That wasn't supposed to get out," he said. Several hours later, the Senators had pulled the original statement from their website (the link above is the Google cache version as it appeared in the release). It was then that I knew that someone had (allegedly) made a very large mistake.

In the days that followed, my source helped me trace back through the fallout - and information released - from the death. Suddenly, I became privy to far more about this investigation that I ever expected.

But what could I do about it? Nothing.

These are the dilemmas that we should discussing in online media. Bloggers v. print in the press box? I don't give a damn about that. Why doesn't someone talk about the foibles of trying to get sources in the police department, or whether you can use a source's scoop if they gave it to you while intoxicated? When is the right time to approach a grieving family about the details of their child's death, and how do you know if you even have to gumption to do something like that without seeming like a monster? How does one question the rationale of a professional sports franchises' decision to release such graphic information, and do so without the protection of an employer, in case they want to ban you from the press box? In the same vein, how do you call them on their (expletive) for pulling the release - a clear-cut sign that they know they were in the wrong? Am I doing it now? Is this enough?

Don't talk any more crap to me about press box dilemmas. Don't tell me that I owe guys like Chris Botta a great deal, even if he did get the short end of the stick. He didn't teach me how to handle a situation like this. And as the lines between traditional media and blogging become more blurred by the day, these problems will become our new-school reality. But the question remains - how do we deal with them? Something tells me the old-school guys aren't keen to reveal what they may have learned in J-school, although I'm not sure what happened to me this week would've been covered in any class.

More later.

Apologies for my absence

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OK, so with travel (Vancouver and Houston), work and now the flu, I've been out of commission for a while. Sorry about that. Much thanks to Dany Heatley Speedwagon for holding up the fort at Yahoo! while I was flying around the continent like a maniac.

Anyway, post to come in the next 24-48 (hopefully) on the last week or so - travel, the sports reporters panel at Carleton University this past Monday with Ian Mendes, Sean McIndoe of Down Goes Brown, James Gordon of the Ottawa Citizen and yours truly, my visit with 5-time Smak-Off Champion, dear friend and Houston radio deity Sean Pendergast and more. And I guess I should say something about the Senators, right? How about that local sports team?

More to come, Cynics. Good to be back. Stay tuned.