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.

  • Cam

    humantorch wrote:

    I’m only half-joking here, and it’s probably too late to do it for this year, but if the Oilers Nation Powers That Be™ put a paypal donation link to raise the scratch to send someone like Brownlee or Gregor to the draft next year to liveblog or Twitter or what-have-you the event right here on these pages, it wouldn’t surprise me to see an assload of cash get raised.
    Hell, I’d chip in.

    Count on me for twenty!

  • Wanye Gretz

    @ charlieangels:

    Oh and no we can't take the score off. If the Oilers didn't want us to remember a 4-1 loss all summer they should have won their last game of the year.

  • Wanye Gretz

    @ humantorch:
    @ Zwantinus:
    @ willy fisterbotom:
    @ Andrew W:

    Wow. I am witnessing the power of suggestion on here.

    We can't be sending people off all willy nilly to the draft and the like. Do you know the travel standards to which Brownlee is accustomed? He flies in 5 star hotels somehow!

    Where is the draft anyways? The moon?

  • charlieangels

    Robin, you can't go to the draft just in case you start your new gig at Team 1260.

    Hey, whoever is doing this sight, can we take off the score of the last game of the year, it drives me crazy.

    Bruke says he is upset with Heatly going to the media, he must of forgot about Pronger deal.

    Robin, you just can't go.

  • Andrew W

    Despite understanding some of the economic causes, it sucks that there won't be any exclusive Oiler coverage at the draft.

    Count me as another who'd chip in. It wouldn't take a big chunk of change if a decent percentage of Nation readers contributed, and why wouldn't we if there's no other way to hear the juiciest rumours?

  • humantorch

    I'm only half-joking here, and it's probably too late to do it for this year, but if the Oilers Nation Powers That Be™ put a paypal donation link to raise the scratch to send someone like Brownlee or Gregor to the draft next year to liveblog or Twitter or what-have-you the event right here on these pages, it wouldn't surprise me to see an assload of cash get raised.

    Hell, I'd chip in.