Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fronts: A Fine case for a lawsuit!

How many 18-year-olds could you get a picture of drinking? Many of them. Yet Soo Today, for reasons that have to be pretty goddamn original since there's nothing in our journalistic experience that would possibly justify this, chose to run a picture of newly minted Kingston Frontenacs forward Michael Fine getting his drink on next to a story about the trade between the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Fronts.

"Despicable" is the word which comes to mind. Fine had been sent home by the Greyhounds for disciplinary reasons and told to wait for a trade. However, context is everything in the media. The article offers nothing to explain why there's a picture of a minor getting booze poured down his throat. There is no photo credit to explain how the picture was obtained.

Anyone's issues with alcohol are private and personal so long as he/she is not driving drunk. How do you know, unless you're inside the velvet rope in junior hockey, whether someone has a serious problem or simply the normal teenage issues with alcohol? Lots of people drink before achieving the age of majority (a lot don't, too) and their picture does not end up on a legitimate media outlet's website, so-called.

It is understood that there probably is a lot of gossip going around over why Fine was kicked off the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (whose general manager, Dave Torrie, has made a public objection to the picture being published), so such a picture might have seemed like a smoking gun.

Your guess is as to Soo Today's motivations as as good as any. Blame the TMZing of the media, blame small-town ignorance and insecurities ("Fine didn't realize how lucky he was that in Canada, we force someone to move 500 miles from home to pursue a career in pro hockey! We'll show him!").

Speaking from rather hard-won personal experience, it says here Fine, whose former team's home arena was the Steelback Centre for a time, should explore a lawsuit. The case law with libel and defamation in Canada is that the media has less leeway in smaller population centres. The Soo is not a very big place. Fine and the Frontenacs play a game in the Soo in about five weeks. Knowing the fringe element you get in junior hockey barns, someone is going to take that picture and blow it up to 24" by 48" size and hold it up on a stick.

Honestly, the reaction on this end would be the same even if Fine was not playing for my hometown team, the Kingston Frontenacs. No reasonable person is saying, "Great, we traded for a party boy." It's more live and let live, teenagers will be teenagers. The Frontenacs potentially gave up quite a bit (conditional draft choices which could become second-, third- and fifth-rounders across the next four years) if Fine plays to potential. Let's get real, though, this it is not the first time a hockey team traded for a player who had trouble sticking to the straight and narrow in his former city. It will not be the last, either. It's funny how this turns up about a junior hockey player most casual sports fans have never heard of, while no one knows why Dany Heatley ended finding his way to San Jose (just saying).

This is being written without knowing anything about Fine beyond stats and scouting reports, maybe it even looks good on him. No one presumes junior hockey players are saints, no one is going to be shocked by a Facebook-ish picture of a drunk teenager, so why do that? There's something to be said for showing some couth. Shame on Soo Today.


Sportsdump said...

that tabloidish journalism just sucked the life out of every OHL player, their families and anyone who has ever been a part of the best NHL developmental league in the world - disgusting - David Helwig should be hazed with a soggy biscuit

MisterDB said...

The Sootoday went too far but things happened up in the Soo that were serious enough for him to be removed from the team which made big news in the OHL. If he leaves what ever issues he had behind him then great, welcome to Kingston. This maybe just what Fine needs to turn it around for him. And if he does this is a steal (sort of) by the Frontenacs. Could be costly in the end depending what transpires with Fine's performance but still this may open the door for trading a lack luster star. I also hope this dosen't screw up the chemisty in the dressing room that took so long to correct.

I'm still not old enough yet to forget my teen years
.............Glory Days

sager said...

I know we get on the Fronts for dealing draft choices, but at least the potential second, third and fifth they give up are spaced out over a period of years.

End of the day, the rank-and-file fans don't care too much about mortgaging the future ... that's for us diehards.

MisterDB said...

Neate true for the draft choices if that's all but the wuestion is, what will happen in the next little while? The Fronts seem to have too many bodies. They appear to be building for the immediate return, the ever elusive playoff spot but as long as they play exciting hockey as that all that really matters I guess. Damn next year full steam ahead on this one.

The other thing for Sootoday, they have accomplished what they were going for, lots of traffic to their site, look at all the forums talking about this. Sensationalism sells, classless, immoral what ever one wants to call it but it sells.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever been in Northern Ontario? No wonder he needed to get pissed! OHL doesn't belong in the boonies of Scuzbury and the Schmoo!

Superfun happy slide said...

I'll confirm the October 1 comment for accuracy and honesty. Sudbury and the Soo are terrible destinations and really can bring the worst out of any person.

In an unrelated note: BRING BACK THE CENTS

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Soo is a terrible place to play...just ask Wayne Gretzky.
Honestly, there are towns in southern Ontario that aren't exactly Utopia either.

Rob Pettapiece said...

Now at the end of the article:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Torrie, general manager of Soo Greyhounds Hockey Club, advises that he objects to's selection of the reader-submitted image accompanying this article.

"Reader-submitted image." Yeah, sure.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Soo is a terrible place to play...just ask Wayne Gretzky.

Or ask Lindros!

Anonymous said...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Torrie, general manager of Soo Greyhounds Hockey Club, advises that he objects to's selection of the reader-submitted image accompanying this article.

but we're gonna leave it up.