On the eve of the 2009 NHL amateur draft in Montreal, I am taking the opportunity to contact you.
First, let me thank you for your analysis and insight on TSN, NBC and the various sports radio stations throughout Canada. You are one of the best in the business on either side of the border. I don’t always agree with you opinions but your game and player instincts are superb and your sources well-informed. Besides, you are entertaining!
I have enjoyed the honour of meeting you in person. You were gracious and generous with your time on each occasion. Although I’m sure you have been asked to see ‘the ring’ a thousand times, you were patient and seemed sincerely proud. But, my admiration grew as I watched you speak with very young hockey players. They, of course, hung on your every word. But, you seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience and the questions from them. I remember thinking, this guy is truly passionate about hockey.
I am also very fortunate to be in touch with thousands of hockey enthusiasts on a regular basis, who I feel, are equally passionate about the great game of hockey. They are fans, bloggers and users of social media.
As a hockey writer with a focus on the Montreal Canadiens, I have enjoyed being in touch with Habs fans from across the U.S. and Canada. I’ve also been fortunate to communicate and debate with fans of rival teams. Hockey is a passion we share, and we have embraced the chance to discuss it.
To be frank, I am somewhat puzzled by your reaction, Pierre, to bloggers and amateur writers. Your usually positive nature often turns sour when the subject turns to social media. You never fail to take the opportunity to be aggressively critical towards bloggers.
Sometimes the comments are indirect. When you were told that the Lightning were demanding Andrei Markov in a trade for Vincent Lecavalier, you dismissed it as a ridiculous rumor started by a blogger. In truth, the report came from a hockey reporter for the St. Petersburg Times.
In the Spring, when a discussion between you and Picard on the Team 990 turned to the subject of bloggers, you can imagine my surprise to hear the words “unaccountable”, “nameless”, “faceless”, and “gutless” used to describe them. You went on to say that bloggers are just “looking to score a career” and you agreed when Picard said that bloggers are just “30 year old unemployed losers living in their parent’s basement.”
Do they want careers in hockey journalism? Most bloggers do not. They are successfully employed in a variety of fields. Some are married and have children. Some play the game and others are coaches and referees. These are decent, intelligent, hard-working individuals who love hockey.
Are they accountable? Bloggers are accountable to their readers. Most blogs that I follow are thoroughly researched and well-written. I won’t draw any comparisons to the mainstream media but we also know that everyone in print, TV and radio is not a McGuire or McKenzie.
While sports journalists speak *to* hockey fans, bloggers speak *with* them. They facilitate discussion. Bloggers fill an untapped need. They also do an excellent job of promoting the game and bringing new fans to hockey. And they do this for little or no remuneration. In my book, that is true passion.
Perhaps this is simply a case of misunderstanding. It’s always easier to criticize people who are nameless and faceless. But that’s easily remedied.
Hockey fans and bloggers from all over the continent are meeting in Montreal this weekend. They are arriving from Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Toronto, Oakland, Tampa, Calgary… The reason? Because they love hockey and want to share the experience of the NHL amateur draft with their fellow social media users.
On Saturday afternoon (June 27th), they will all meet at Ye Olde Orchard (de la Montagne) to meet and talk hockey.
Pierre, you are most welcome to attend and interact with some of the most interesting hockey fans in Canada and the U.S. They will tell you their names and you will see their faces. You may even meet someone who lives with their parents. But most importantly, it may be a learning experience for all.
In closing, I hope that we can agree on this: Regardless of one’s position or means, all can be equally passionate about the great game of hockey…even bloggers.
Written on behalf of fans and bloggers attending the Montreal draft weekend
The following is an email reply from Pierre McGuire. I think it was a very classy thing for him to do.
Thanks for the well thought out note. I wish I could accept your invitation for the 27th, but at I will be at a family function on that day. I hope you enjoy the draft and that MTL gets the players they need to become more competitive. Based on your writing it is clear to see that you are well thought-out and poised. However when people who write vicious things about people they have never met or do not even know just because they do not like their opinions, that is the problem I have with some bloggers. Have a blast at your party, and stay in touch.
All the best,