Passion

Ethan Moreau and Shawn Horcoff drive to the net against the Hurricanes

Pas • sion | noun : Strong barely controllable emotion. Strong enthusiasm.

More than anything passion drives every facet of sport. The players need it to be champions, management requires it to continue on after a bad personnel decision, and the media better have it if they want to stay in the game. But fans possess it the most.

The passion from the fans is raw, unbridled, and sometimes almost blinding. The fans pay for their tickets and with that I strongly believe that gives them the right to voice their opinion, as long as it delivered in a respectful manner. The cheap personal shots and profanity or racial taunts are ridiculous and ultimately make the opinion seem less valid.

I grew up reading the paper (still do every morning) and listening to sports radio, specifically John Short. There was no Internet, no The Score, Sportsnet or TSN, and since we had Peasant Vision™ on the farm there was no ABC or any other American stations. The paper and radio were the only outlets to get information, except the subscription to Sports Illustrated.

In the car after hockey games, my late father and I would listen to Short and I was enthralled by his knowledge, but now that I’m in that chair the one constant that remains is the interaction and passion of the fans.

I loved the banter, the interviews and especially when the callers would get fired up. To this day I can’t recall a caller who called in to praise a ref after an Oiler loss.

Today the options are endless on where you want to get your fix: radio, TV and of course the Internet. The best part of sports is how we can all watch the same game and come away with completely different views of what happened.

The similarities between sports talk radio and here at the Nation are very similar, yet completely different.

The Nation allows you the readers to express your opinion in a timely fashion, while the radio is quick hits and the response/banter is instantaneous. I’ve always been partial to that type of interaction, but the more I contribute and interact on the Nation I’ve come to appreciate this format.

Brownlee’s article, and your response was entertaining and insightful, and I could sense true passion from the posters. Reading praise and criticism is good for my type of work. You don’t let either one go to your head. A wise man, Ron Durda, once told me that if everyone likes your show you aren’t doing it right. As long as they keep listening, or in this case reading, that’s what matters.

There are some things I’d like to clarify from the article.

The reason the TEAM 1260 switched to Fox from ESPN was strictly financial. ESPN wanted to double their rates, and in this financial time that wasn’t feasible for the TEAM or many other sport stations across the country. I understand some of you don’t like the more brash approach of Fox, but the 1:00-3:00pm slot with Meyers and Hartman is very insightful, and I prefer it to what we used to have in that slot.

There will be more local shows on the TEAM very soon. As a guy who grew up listening to Short and then hosting in evenings, I think it is imperative to have a show there. I can guranatee you that there will be a regular evening show very soon on the TEAM 1260. The inner workings of a company don’t need to be public knowledge, but it is a fair and valid criticism as to why we don’t have one. The good news is that there will be a new one sooner than later.

A local 1:00-3:00pm show will be coming later on as well. And I can tell you that there will be a strong focus in that show about local hockey, not just the Oilers. I’ve never understood Canadians’ lack of love for amateur sports. Most of you played the game and every NHLer went through the ranks before reaching the pinnacle of success. The AJHL, ACAC, U of A and WHL are affordable and entertaining. You might not know all of the players, but if you tuned in and were given more insight into them, I wonder if you might find yourself going to four or five games a year.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the differing opinions on the hosts. I chuckle when one poster writes, “Gregor is condescending to the callers,” while another will post “He is engaging and very patient.” That is the core of sports right there. Two die-hard sport fans can listen to a caller and come away with completely different feelings on the interaction between host and caller.

There were some great suggestions on what people want to hear on the TEAM 1260, and I did get my program director and GM to read the posts. Keep in mind that the percentage of posters to readers was close to 1:100. It is that way in sports radio and the same occurs here on the Nation. I applaud those who have the time, energy and gumption to post on here. I know there are many readers and listeners who will never call or post, but are just as passionate and their opinions and loyalty are just as important. I’ve posted my email on here before and if you have a question or concern don’t hesitate to send it my way.

I enjoy the banter here and look forward to it heating up leading up to the Draft and free-agent season. What gives me the most gratification is that 95% of the posts are hear are insightful and filled with genuine passion. The childish name calling, and guys hiding behind fake names aren’t the norm on here and that is a credit to you.

When guys can argue, and it happens lots, and will continue in the future, but do so with thought provoking, intelligent retorts it makes for a great site. I would never expect, or want, all of us to have the same opinions, because it would make the site boring.

And for those who rip on guys for not posting on here keep in mind that there is still competition for your eyes. Wanye and the Nation team have done a fantastic job of mixing MSM with bloggers and they will continue in the future, but don’t expect them to have a representative from every outlet, because it won’t happen.

OILER TO WIN AWARD

I wrote last week how the Oilers haven’t had a 40-goal scorer since Klima in 1991, and who knows if that streak will end soon, but the Oilers will end another lengthy streak on Thursday.

The Oilers haven’t had an NHL award winner since 1990. That year the Oilers won the Stanley Cup, Messier won the Hart Trophy, Ranford won the Conn Smyth while Kevin Lowe took home the now defunct Budweiser Man of the Year award and most importantly, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

“The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”

On Thursday, Oiler Captain Ethan Moreau will be honoured. Moreau does loads of charity work with the Stollery and the Inner City High project with the Oilers. We can critique his play on the ice all we want, but off the ice Moreau gives more to the community than any other Oiler.

For many of us without kids or who haven’t been touched directly by a charity I think we overlook this aspect of being a professional player. I can tell you the most rewarding show I do every year is when we broadcast from the Stollery Children’s Hospital. It is heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time. Ask Brownlee how important the Stollery was to his family and their little guy, Sam!

I’ve seen the reaction kids and their parents have when they meet Moreau or other Oilers, Eskimos, Rush or any other athlete and it is amazing how that one meeting can brighten up their day.

I think too many athletes don’t get that, but Moreau does. He along with his wife Ornella donate a lot of their time and energy to various charities and he does it behind the scenes. You can’t do it for the fanfare; he does it because it means a lot to him.

While the Hart Trophy is the most prestigious trophy, the King Clancy is the most rewarding and well deserved for Moreau. Whether he is here next year or not, I can guarantee you that various charities across the city are hoping he remains an Oiler for many years to come.

  • Cam

    @ Deans:

    It is kind of funny how opinions differ. The reason I stopped listening to The Team was because I was tired of tuning in and hearing some americans talk about a sport I don't care about (NFL or MLB). I will listen to Edmontonian produced shows far ahead of some nationwide sports show.

    I listened to CHED since they were homers (talked about local sports and had local hosts).

    I started listening to 1260 after Kevin Lowe had his rant. I will never again think of Burke without hearing Lowe call him a moron. Stauffer's show was great and so is Jasons… I never get tired of Oiler talk.

    Seeing Jason's posts here on ON has increased my loyalty to "Just a Game" immensely. Jason knows his stuff and I love hearing him call down ignorant blockheads on his show.

  • […] Such is the case with Ethan Moreau, who’ll be honoured with the King Clancy Memorial Trophy — presented to “the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community” — Thursday, as reported by Jason Gregor at Oilersnation today. […]

  • OvenChicken8 wrote:

    Question, is it set in stone that Moreau will win the award? Or is it just speculation as of now?

    Set in stone. I thought I wrote it to make it sound like it was a sure thing. He will win and is well deserving.

    Sandra Blood wrote:

    great article Greggor, SO does that mean John Short will be coming to 1260? I hope so, I remember listening to him years ago, He had so much knowledge, he never got stuck by any question thathe was asked, from hockey to boxing. The guy is an information machine.

    I still speak with John, but he has no interest in coming back to radio. He is enjoying life and semi-retirement. He really loves the amateur scope and writes in the Sun often. But he isn't interested in radio. At least he wasn't the last time we spoke.

    @ Deans:

    Thanks for you points. I feel I keep my show well-rounded like before, and try not to have a too many shows that are always one topic. The Reddox show was a one day thing…certain topics can dominate three hours and keep the people who join late the chance to know what is going on. I was amazed at how popular our ROAD HOCKEY show was. We all have great memories of playing road hockey, too bad not as many kids get to play it today.

    We'll have lots of CFL coming…GRIDIRON SHOW will return on Tuesdays…we will have a racing segment on Thursdays, and if we do have a topic similar to Reddox it would be a one day show and then move on the next day.

    Good topic suggestions. History is big for sure, and I love it when some of the older generation fans call in to tell of BACK in THE DAY…reminds me of stories from my Granpa…Any guy's grandpa is normally the best story teller ever.

  • risto

    I don't know if it's because Bill Tuele is gone, but the Oilers I remember ALL donated their time in the off-season and during the season to support various charities, and a good reason why we deserved to be called the City of Champions.

    Now, it seems that they all disappear in the summer. I'm glad Moreau is getting the recognition, but the rest of the team could do a lot more. Might give these mercenary free agents something else to think about before they turn their backs on their teammates and contracts. It would also be good for the community, and the fanbase – more interaction, less mystery, gossip and disconnect. I think the Oilers have lost something important along the way from Peter Puck to CFP.

    The great 1980's Oiler and Eskimo teams were a PART of the community by giving back. The Eskimos destroy the Oilers on community involvement, and some of these amazing athletes need second jobs to pay the bills!

    So, c'mon! 21st-century Oilers make WAY more than the Boys on the Bus. Maybe fly here once a summer to do some charity work?

    As for sports radio, and media coverage in general, people will swallow whatever you shove down their throats – American news feeds on gangster football players ala 1260 – you know it's simple to me:

    If you cover local amateur sports, people will watch/read/listen!

  • Rich Zeng

    Didn't Moreau say that he didn't care about discontent among fans as long as tickets were still being sold?

    I haven't forgotten that despite the Moreau PR Machine working overtime…

  • Mike L

    Rich Zeng wrote:

    Didn’t Moreau say that he didn’t care about discontent among fans as long as tickets were still being sold?
    I haven’t forgotten that despite the Moreau PR Machine working overtime…

    That is not what he said…He was asked the booing and basically said that since the fans keep supporting the team so well they are allowed to boo… players shouldn't be mad that the fans boo, because they support the team by showing up…

  • kingsblade

    @ Jason Gregor:
    It's been a long time since I have lived in Edmonton, but I have that same memory from my childhood of John Short.

    So many years and I could still pick his voice out in a crowd and I still remember looking at my dad over his shoulder in the car while we listened to see what he thought about the commentary.

    Great times.

  • OvenChicken8

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Set in stone. I thought I wrote it to make it sound like it was a sure thing. He will win and is well deserving.

    You did write it that way, I was just having a brain-fart moment.

  • blindreff

    Hey Jason,
    I criticized The Team 1260 yesterday for not participating in the thread about Brownlee's column so I'd like to give you props for stepping up to the plate. Your article definitely answered my questions.

    Well done.

  • Hey Gregor, great piece here. I listen to Just A Game on a pretty regular basis and while some of your reactions to callers make me insane, I appreciate the enthusiam you bring to the show. I understand Bryn and the Team not wanting to discuss recent changes in great detail; who wants to air that kind of stuff in the public? I've e-mailed the station in the past to ask about programming changes and received reasonable, non-PFO responses. Can't ask for much more as a listener.

    Finally, I'm not digging the Fox Radio all that much, but given the financial situation it seems pretty unreasonable for ESPN to jack their rates to that extent. An article in the Globe some time back implied this was a pre-emptive strike in the development of a TSN (ESPN partner) radio station. Any validity to this?

  • JB wrote:

    An article in the Globe some time back implied this was a pre-emptive strike in the development of a TSN (ESPN partner) radio station. Any validity to this?

    Yes, I have heard that TSN is looking into it, but it isn't that easy. They have to acquire a signal in every city, and I know they have limited their spending on TV right now.

    Everyone is having a tough time financially right now, and the talk about them moving into radio has quieted a bit. I think it is something they will keep looking at and I could see it possibly happening in the future.

    The industry is always changing, so nothing would surprise me. And to anwer the questions regarding TSN/CTV I have heard they've expressed some interest.

  • Hoos

    Gregor, thanks for the article. As a semi-regular caller to your show (when I don't get a busy signal) I don't find you condescending at all, even though we rarely agree, and often disagree on the air. Your pinnacle moment in my mind was when you interviewed Donovan Bailey on your late night show and knocked it out of the park. That's when I realized that even though I don't necessarily agree with your "takes", your superior interviewing skills are worth the time.

    Any thought of making your out of studio shows a little more interactive? I think that would be cool, like a Friday from Hudson's Downtown or something like that, where fans or other bloggers could be interviewed and the crowd could actually hear it. I remember when you did the radio show from BPs a long time ago. A couple buddies of mine went and were disappointed that it seemed to be you stuck in a corner with the earpiece on, secluded from the goings on in the bar. It was weak except for the ladies that had flocked to your side during commercial breaks and were like your groupies. I guess that was the second pinnacle Gregor moment for me.

    On the topic of Team 1260, the switch to Fox Sports has been horrible. There's very little value to be added from the "Dude" inspired radio they deliver. I understand that financial matters are often paramount in company's decision making, but how much money is saved by cheaper, unlistenable shows? I'm not some statistical sports robot that only wants the bare facts … but I'd like a little information that only an actual journalist can gather compared to something that I might say to Wanye after ten beers for me and three Bacardi Breezers on his part.

    Is ESPN perfect? No it isn't. I agree that there is too much college football and NFL sometimes. But that's where local programming or programming from other stations can be used effectively. ESPN is far superior to Fox, if only because of all the talent, resources and access a company like ESPN can get.

    PS – I wrote a letter to the Team explaining all this with my actual name and contact number. I'm not nameless either.

  • Hoos wrote:

    Any thought of making your out of studio shows a little more interactive? I think that would be cool, like a Friday from Hudson’s Downtown or something like that, where fans or other bloggers could be interviewed and the crowd could actually hear it. I remember when you did the radio show from BPs a long time ago. A couple buddies of mine went and were disappointed that it seemed to be you stuck in a corner with the earpiece on, secluded from the goings on in the bar. It was weak except for the ladies that had flocked to your side during commercial breaks and were like your groupies. I guess that was the second pinnacle Gregor moment for me.

    We do every Friday at the Walk About Pub on Whyte Ave for the summer. We will be having contests each week. We are having our draft party there on the 26th…THey'll be a few fun things for people in house to do.

    As for listening to the show in house, it is tough because of the feedback possibilities. We do set up one speaker so people who want to listen can sit at tables near by, and yes if you want to put a headset on a talk like just like calling in we welcome that as well, as long as you haven't had a six pack already.

    This Friday we will be at Cyclone Taylor Sports on the westend…Compro one pieces on sale for only $60…and we'll have hardest shot competitions and the best part is in the first hour we will have a special guest Playmate on the show live down there…Somedays you need get away from sports talk for ten minutes..haha

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Jason Gregor:
    The Show you guys do from the Stollery is a tough one for me. I have no children, I have no one close whose children needed to go there for any reason, but the mere idea of kids suffering almost puts me in tears right away. I'm glad you guys get out there and support them the way you do.

    And as tough as I am on Moreau all year round, I wont take anything away from his efforts in the community. Good on him and the rest of the team, and anyone else who takes the time to give back.

  • Harlie

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    History is big for sure, and I love it when some of the older generation fans call in to tell of BACK in THE DAY…reminds me of stories from my Granpa…Any guy’s grandpa is normally the best story teller ever.

    My Grampa had EPIC stories. Bless his soul!

  • 442Junkie

    Thursday racing shows will be even better this year, now that you have Brownlee on your show. As a certified car nut I think he could add a lot to the conversation. Then again I am a bit of a car nut too.

  • Milli

    Good for Moreau. When i was 12-13, I spent alot of time at the childrens hospital in Calgary (AHHH!!!!) and got to meet Lanny MacDonald, now, although I have always been a die hard OILER, it was exciting to meet him, especially at such a shitty time. The athletes who get it, like Moreau, deserve much more personel respect for what they do and the lift it brings to people lifes in unmeasurable. Good for him. Someone here wrote a piece a few months back about the vets that love E-town and are such a part of the community, and ya guys like Moreau won't score 40 (or 20), but I don't think for one second anyone can ever question his effort and commitment to the team. I'll rip on him for stupid penalties or why was he on the first line, but never question his value to the team. Last year was tough on everyone, us as fans, players, coaches….so a new start with a new coach should be good for all. And it's nice to see the athletes make a bigtime diference get recognition.