What will we wrap fish with when newspapers are gone?

entrydraft

Short of a Stanley Cup final, covering the NHL Entry Draft used to be the highlight of the season during my newspaper days.

Likewise, between chasing down trade rumours, trying to get the inside dope on who was talking to whom and buzz about top prospects, it was obvious fans couldn’t get enough of what scribes would tap out.

Update: By popular demand, we’re taking donations to fund Brownlee’s Gregor’s trip… When you’re donating, feel free to suggest what he should do while he’s out there. Just click the orange pill thingy.



I can’t imagine fan interest, particularly in puck hotbeds like Edmonton, has waned since the days when I’d jet to Toronto or Miami or Nashville, but it’s getting more difficult for fans to get their fix — at least as delivered by their local beat men, the people who cover the team on a daily basis.

Tough economic times have newspapers, like a lot of businesses, slashing budgets. Compounding matters, newspapers have been dying a slow death for years now — the reasons are many.

The result? For the Entry Draft in Montreal, Oilers fans won’t have anybody from either daily newspaper documenting the day. There won’t be any inside stuff from Jim Matheson, who knows the Oilers better than anybody on the planet, unless he picks up the telephone.

Pool coverage

Instead of Matheson’s insights or the acidic sarcasm of a Rob Tychkowski over at The Sun, fans here will have to get their dope on the Oilers from the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun or the Montreal Gazette. Well, that or from TSN or Sportsnet.

There might be a local sports director from Edmonton who grabs the trip as a junket and does a few stand-ups to justify the expense — maybe Dave Mitchell can do a piece where he pretends to be drafted — but the newsprint guys are getting shutout as far as I know.

Because of Bob MacKenzie and Darren Dreger, national outlets like TSN are second-to-none in terms of big-picture blanket coverage, but they’ve got their Blackberries buzzing with 30 teams to cover. Their focus is not the Oilers.

The problem with newspapers, of course, is they don’t hit the doorstep until the next morning, so everything they have to offer is old news by the time the black-and-white finds the step.

But even the dustiest old daily has one of those interweb sites now, where updates come be made within minutes of a player being selected or a trade being completed. There’s value in that, no?

Wouldn’t it make sense to have a beat guy there? Apparently not, because I’m hearing scribes from Vancouver aren’t going, either.

Priorities

You’d think with Edmonton, with the Oilers having a top-10 pick, a new GM, a new coaching staff and the team reportedly in the hunt for sulking Dany Heatley, there’d be plenty of angles worth pursuing. Anybody with half-a-brain can see that. But, nooooooooooooooo.

Instead, we get The Journal sending columnist Dan Barnes to Las Vegas for the NHL Awards, where he’s expected to produce for the entire CanWest chain of newspapers. Barnes will do a helluva job, and Ethan Moreau is getting the King Clancy Memorial Award, so…

Even so, if there’s a choice to be made by the bean-counters, and it’s obvious there is — Jason Gregor broke the news about Moreau and I did a follow-up piece here Tuesday, so it’s old news — isn’t the Entry Draft and everything that comes with it more compelling to fans? Of course it is.

That’s one of many problems with my beloved old hard copy in newsrooms across the country and the continent — the bean-counters call the shots, not the editorial staff. Who cares if Matheson can provide the best insight? How much does it cost?

That’s one of the reasons newspapers, despite some blips of recovery in a time of declining circulation, are half on the slab right now and websites like Oilersnation are making inroads.

Now, if cheap screw Wanye will only get off his wallet and provide yours truly with a travel budget, we’ll really be on to something.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • In the 9th round with their final selection…

    the Cleveland Barons are proud to select from Our Mother Of Perpetual Mercy hockey Academy in Palookaville
    Wisconsin….

    Dave 'the big donut' Mitchell.

  • Cam

    I do think people on this site are just a wee bit hard on Dan Tencer. Some comments have been pretty severe and mean spirited, and he is just a more optimistic voice and I don't think that is so bad.

    I prefer Gregor over Tencer, but I listen to both and enjoy both. Both are Oil fans and so we have something in common right off the bat.

    chillax people.

  • patty

    Mowzie wrote:

    Sorry to hear that Robin. A donation to Stollery seems like a perfect plan B.

    +1

    Maybe the sponsors can match our donations and we can give the Stollery a sack of cash, and send Gregor.

  • Darren

    Hey Robin, this was a great idea, but I honestly had no idea that you might not be able to go…that said,
    being you are at home that weekend can you still deliver us the poop on the draft anyway?

    I know I can watch it on T.V. but I want a REAL evaluation of what the Oilers are doing…a passion-fueled fire from a true Oilers follower, not a 20 second neat & tidy clip telling us who we picked on TSN. What I really want is a just evaluation on if we did a good job on that pick or trade, or if we just screwed ourselves over!

    I don't need a pretty bow on my present, I just wanna open the f***in' thing, and see what's inside! In the words of the immortal Judge Constance Harm, "Don't spit on my cupcake and call it frosting!"

    I'll be gone is SK, but will hopefully be able to find a computer to see if we f*** up the draft this year! 😉
    (eyes half-shut)

    Secondly, I guess it was good that I was too freaked out to pay on the internet last night (I still don't trust that entirely, although I did see that the sight was safe and trust the ON. I thought I'd just take one last look before plunking down this AM, and Lowe and behold..;)

    Thirdly, and most importantly, I am hoping for Sam to get feeling better real soon! My prayers go out to you and your little guy for a speedy recovery!!!

    Now I know where to find you for my draft info this year!

  • Harlie

    Robin, best wishes for a speedy recovery for your Son! I have two boys under the age of 2 and their health and happiness are second to nothing in my life. Get well soon SAM!

  • Peter Pan

    Harlie wrote:

    Robin, best wishes for a speedy recovery for your Son! I have two boys under the age of 2 and their health and happiness are second to nothing in my life. Get well soon SAM!

    I also have a 1 year old son and, as Harlie also said, he comes before anything else. I wish Sam a speedy recovery. God Bless.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Darren wrote:

    Hey Robin, this was a great idea, but I honestly had no idea that you might not be able to go…that said,
    being you are at home that weekend can you still deliver us the poop on the draft anyway?
    I know I can watch it on T.V. but I want a REAL evaluation of what the Oilers are doing…a passion-fueled fire from a true Oilers follower, not a 20 second neat & tidy clip telling us who we picked on TSN. What I really want is a just evaluation on if we did a good job on that pick or trade, or if we just screwed ourselves over!
    I don’t need a pretty bow on my present, I just wanna open the f***in’ thing, and see what’s inside! In the words of the immortal Judge Constance Harm, “Don’t spit on my cupcake and call it frosting!”
    I’ll be gone is SK, but will hopefully be able to find a computer to see if we f*** up the draft this year!
    (eyes half-shut)
    Secondly, I guess it was good that I was too freaked out to pay on the internet last night (I still don’t trust that entirely, although I did see that the sight was safe and trust the ON. I thought I’d just take one last look before plunking down this AM, and Lowe and behold..;)
    Thirdly, and most importantly, I am hoping for Sam to get feeling better real soon! My prayers go out to you and your little guy for a speedy recovery!!!
    Now I know where to find you for my draft info this year!

    Harlie wrote:

    Robin, best wishes for a speedy recovery for your Son! I have two boys under the age of 2 and their health and happiness are second to nothing in my life. Get well soon SAM!

    Thanks for the best wishes.

  • Peter Pan

    @ Robin,

    On the point your article was intended for, I agree. You don't see people reading the paper as much as they used to. Everybody, and their dog, owns a PC or laptop and have quick access to all the goods. In addition, the scrolling ticker on sports channels provide the immediacy people are so addicted to. But still, the papers have a lot to offer. It may not be breaking news by the time we read it in the morning, but it is a good opportunity to get the opinions of other writers (ie. Jones, Barnes, Matheson, etc). It still has its value.

  • Yakman

    @ Ducey: Dude, Willis and Lowetide are great but people (all types of people) only share things they know and or trust… which is where a guy like Matheson is huge… Willis for all his analysis (which I love) would be told to buzz off if he walked up to Kevin Lowe and started asking him questions… until bloggers have the recognition, trust, and respect of powers and players that be I want someone like Brownlee at the draft to get the real dirt and not the BS soundbites that end up on sportsnet…

  • Clarkenstein

    @ Travis Dakin:
    Thanks for the advice but my comment was directed to Tencer not you. If I don't like you I'll tell you. It's not a personal attack on anybody. If you want a personal attack on Tencer I can give you one.. just give me the nod!!