Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I have tried to stay out of the debate that has taken place in some corners since the Kamloops Blazers chose to cut off my access to the organization. Anyone who wants to try and find the “negative reporting” the Blazers allege is free to look at this blog. It’s all there and I will let that speak for itself.
But there have been some untruths put out there -- I do not criticize individual players, nor do I speculate on trades by tossing around players’ names -- and I am going to address one of them right now.
Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province wrote a piece that appeared in his newspaper on Monday. In that story, Kuzma quoted Mark Recchi, one of the Blazers’ co-owners, as saying:
"We took him to the (WHL bantam) draft and explained to him that we're on a five-year plan right now.”
Recchi seems to be implying that the Blazers paid my expenses when I covered the WHL’s 2010 bantam draft in Edmonton.
If that is what Recchi, who wasn't at the draft, is saying he is incorrect.
Here’s the real story . . .
My wife has a sister who lives in Sherwood Park. That sister lost her husband to cancer in February. After attending the funeral, my wife and I made plans to visit her sister again in a couple of months. As things developed, we ended up planning to be in Sherwood Park late in April, so I chose to schedule that trip around the bantam draft.
We drove in our own car to Sherwood Park and we stayed in my sister-in-law’s home. I drove across the city to the bantam draft on the morning of April 29, covered the event, then drove back to Sherwood Park, where I wrote and from where I filed copy to The Daily News. Anyone who is a regular here will remember that I spent a good part of the day updating this blog with selections and happenings from the draft.
When all was said and done, I didn’t file for any expenses with the newspaper. This was something that I undertook completely on my own.
While the trip was being planned, the Blazers had approached me and offered to get me to the draft and back, looking after travel and accommodation. I respectfully declined, but did accept an invitation to dinner. That dinner, which included Blazers management and its scouting staff, took place April 28 in an Edmonton restaurant that is owned by Northland Properties, the company of which Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi is president. After the dinner, I returned to Sherwood Park and filed a story to The Daily News.
There was one other member of the Kamloops media -- sportscaster Rick Wile of radio station CHNL -- in Edmonton covering the draft. I can’t speak for him, so you would have to ask him who paid his travel and accommodation expenses. I just know that the Blazers didn't pay mine.

NOTE: Rick Wile says the Blazers covered his accommodations, while the radio station looked after the travel. He says he looked at the deal as an extension of the station’s play-by-play agreement with the Blazers.

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