Thursday, October 11, 2007


Evidence that newspapers are skating on thin ice with their sports coverage, unless they change drastically: Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice's suspension-worthy cheap shot on Vancouver'sRyan Kesler in the Flyers-Canucks game last night is in the 16th paragraph of the game story and the seventh of Tony Gallagher's column.

Boulerice is Topic One on all the other platforms: TSN, Sportsnet, their websites, the blogs like Mirtle each had the means to make it a main story. The newspaper game has more creative and talented people compared to radio or television, yet their hands are tied since the powers-that-be impose such tight deadlines that a game story has to be filed within a few minutes after the game ends.

So when Boulerice laid out Kesler, the writers in Van were already typing (not writing) a mile-a-minute about the Canucks getting several coats of shellack laid on them in an eventual 8-2 loss to Philly. There were little to no time to realize what, in a larger context, was more important than one bad game from the hometown team, and revise accordingly. Explain how tying the hands of your talented people makes sense in a competitive media environment. There has to be a better way.

Who knows? Maybe we'll see the return of the afternoon newspaper, which would give the sportswriters time to actually write and not just type.

The media's going to take a run at Boulerice over the next 24-48 hours. Hopefully a super-sharp writer with a big audience such as Damien Cox (not to put words in his mouth) can put the onus on how junior hockey, specifically the OHL, doesn't deal well with curbing aggression. Both Boulerice and suspended teammate Steve Downie are not bad people, but their time in the OHL imparted some poor lifelong hockey lessons.


Kasim said...

Er, it's Ryan Kesler, not Andrew...

sager said...

Good catch, thanks!

Dennis Prouse said...

I have an idea. Why doesn't someone ask Andrew Long what Boulerice's suspension should be?

Jesse Boulerice is not a "hot headed young guy" or a "rookie trying to send a message". He is 29 years old, and he is a goon, plain and simple. You are what your record says you are, and his record says he is the guy who caved in an opponent's face with a stick swing in the OHL. His NHL career line? 167 games played, 10 points, a minus 15, and 319 penalty minutes. Yes, he is a bad guy. Thank God for the lightweight composite sticks, or Ryan Kesler would be in a world of trouble right now.

So too is Steve Downie, the guy who was the ringleader of the abusive hazing incident with the Windsor Spitfires. Downie didn't just "play tough" on the ice -- his sadistic streak clearly extends off the ice as well.

We will agree on this much, though -- justice in the OHL is a joke. They will suspend a kid five games for flipping the puck into the crowd, but allow a punk like Downie to have suspension time bought back with money.

Jesse Boulerice should have been given a lifetime ban by both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey for what he did. The fact that he was allowed back into an organized hockey game after that is a stain on the record of all those involved in his prior "discipline".

Boulerice's career is completely disposable. No one in hockey will miss him. Campbell has a perfect opportunity to make an example out of someone here, announcing that Boulerice has been given a lifetime ban by the NHL. I'll be shocked, though, with anything above 25 games.

sager said...

For every Boulerice there's got to be what, 3-4 guys who could have had a NHL career and didn't due in part to meatheaded actions?

Andrew Long was definitely one of those guys... he and Boulerice were taken around the same pt in the draft, but he never got higher than the AHL... last I heard he was playing senior AAA in Aylmer, Ont., and that was a few years ago.