As an NHL beat writer, I used to love and hate the weeks leading up to the annual June Entry Draft and free agency.
I loved it because, with a bit of sniffing around, this is when a reporter with solid contacts among general managers, scouts and agents could get an inside line on legit trade talks and draft day dealings instead of just throwing stuff up against the wall and hoping some of it would stick.
I hated it because there were so many bogus rumors and dud leads you’d have to follow to make sure you weren’t missing something that you’d spend half your time chasing what amounted to zippo. Then again. Shrug something off as sheer fantasy and baseless speculation – even if it was that nine times out of 10 – and have it play out that way after the guy at the other newspaper had it and you didn’t, and there’d be hell to pay.
As the photograph above shows, we are there now. What, pray tell, were Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish and Toronto boss Dave Nonis chatting about today in the photo Tweeted by Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet? A whole bunch of something or a whole lot of nothing? We don’t know.
GET IT OUT THERE
A thumb-tap here and a send button there after snapping a photo on your cell phone and you can create an instant buzz, just as Kypreos has by wondering out loud if MacTavish and Nonis might be talking about swapping Edmonton’s seventh overall pick for a defenseman off the Toronto roster.
Possible? Sure. Likely? I don’t know. And I dare say neither does Kypreos, who is one of the more connected guys on the national scene. The question is, does it really matter to fans?
It’s certainly fodder for what used to be called water cooler talk in the days before Twitter and social media, when fans had to wait until the morning newspaper to get their fill of innuendo and guesswork from the beat guys. Now, it’s, what, 30 seconds from photo-op until hitting send? Fans get their hockey version of gossip, and occasionally the inside track, right now.
Now, if a reporter takes the time to follow up by chatting with MacTavish or Nonis or by making a phone call or two to check out what he’s seen or what he’s heard, chances are he’s going to see the same photo or the same rumor all over the internet by the time he’s done due diligence. First is best, after all, so the norm now is to get it out there and ask questions later.
WHAT DID THEY SAY?
Might Kypreos be onto something? Sure.
MacTavish: "Dave, if I was to move that seventh pick, what would it be worth to you? I’m looking for a D-man."
Nonis: Depends who you want. I’m not moving Jake Gardiner just to get to seventh, though. No chance. No way.
MacTavish: What about Mike Komisarek? You gonna buy him out? I’m looking to move Shawn Horcoff or maybe buy him out. Maybe we could talk about . . ."
Nonis: Where you staying in Jersey. Let’s have dinner. We’ll talk."
Then again, Kypreos might have that whole bunch of nothing.
MacTavish: Your hair looks so good, Dave. What product you using?
Nonis: You damn sure know good salad when you see it, Mac. You wanna know the secret? Mayonnaise. Half a jar once a week.
MacTavish: No shit, eh. Mayo. Burkie put you on to that? Thanks, man."
So it goes, just like it always has and always will. It just gets out there far faster than it used to. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing from a purely journalistic point of view, as dusty and outdated as that consideration is becoming, but fans don’t seem to mind a bit. Same buzz as always. You just get the dope right away now.
"The seventh for Gardiner, eh . . ?"
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.