Friday, October 11, 2013
1. Dr. Ann McKee doesn't particularly like it, but she has become the pubic face of the ongoing research into brain injuries in sports.
Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News takes an intriguing look right here at Dr. McKee, who admits that, through it all, she remains a fan of the Green Bay Packers.
"You live in conflict," McKee said. "I have a little easier time watching the NFL than college or high school. I used to go to the high school games and now I have trouble with it. The NFL players get big rewards from it. I feel at least the NFL has made big changes to help their safety. And they're adults -- they can make good decisions."
McKee also points out that her work has nothing to do with trying to destroy football or any other sport.
"This isn't about football, this is about people," McKee told Solomon. "This is a story about people who played sports and had a really bad outcome. I don't ever think in my head 'bad football.' It's more, 'Listen to what's happening and let's try to change this.' "
She also told Solomon: "I love sports, OK? But I think we really need to take it on ourselves to not be so crazy about sports, not to risk someone's future just because we think they might be the next star."
She is correct.
2. The fallout from Jumbogate continued Friday.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province, who posted a lewd comment made by Thornton following a game-day skate on Thursday, doesn’t seem to be getting much support, unless it's from friends and co-workers.
Kevin Allen of USA Today said on Sportsnet that he had spoken with "many" sports reporters and there wasn't much, if any, support for Botchford's decision. "It's almost universal that no one would have reported it," Allen said.
Allen, a highly respected hockey writer who will be presented with the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey in the United States on Dec. 2, admitted that he was "just stunned" by Botchford's decision.
"That happens all the time . . . guys make comments, they interject their thoughts in the middle of interviews, it's usually humour-based," Allen said. "We all hear it. We all ignore it. It's kind of an implied off the record."
Allen said he wouldn't even have considered using the comment, adding that had he chosen to he would have been fired within 20 minutes.
"To me," Allen added, "the reporter, I would say, went rogue. He went outside of what I would say is acceptable practice."
A number of years ago I was the president of the Western Major Junior Hockey Writers Association and we were working to get the WHL to allow us access to dressing rooms. 0ne day, I met with media relations, public relations and marketing officials in a Vancouver hotel, and attempted to state our case as to why newspaper reporters needed that access.
At the end of the day, the team reps were fearful of exactly what happened with Botchford and Thornton, and the teams were even more concerned because reporters who cover major junior hockey are dealing mostly with teenagers. Those teenagers, the school of thought was, might easily say something without realizing the consequences.
In the end, the issue of dressing room access was left up to individual teams, although the WHL does have rules about player availability. In Kamloops, for example, I haven't set foot in the Blazers dressing room in a number of years.
And now there are rumblings that NHL players may ask for time limits when reporters are on their turf.
Aaron Ward, a former NHLer who now is a studio analyst with TSN, posted three tweets on Friday morning. Here they are, having been combined:
"Bottom line on SJ lockeroom quote. Having been on both sides, this is a media/player relationship-killer. Sets it back now bc players could believe they have lost established comfort level with media on what is in fact NEWS. Told by players they may ask to put reporters back on the clock and when availability is up, they will be asked to leave. Not good for a game we are all still trying to grow."
And then there is Jack Todd, a columnist whose work appears in the Montreal Gazette. Todd tweeted: "Thanks to the moron who made Joe Thornton’s comments public, we may never get a good quote out of a hockey locker room again."
3. Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail writes that fighting in hockey has to go. As he points out, the designated fighters aren't needed to police a game that already has police, as in on-ice officials, to do just that. That column is right here.
4. Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen has an interesting story right here that explores the link between Major League Baseball's playoffs and the 2009 World Baseball Challenge, the terrific baseball tournament whose home is in Prince George. This is neat stuff.
5. Sheldon Kennedy, who continues to do such terrific work, took his message about child abuse and how to deal with it to Penn State this week. There is more right here.
6. Donald E. Miller Jr. is a dead man. How does he know that? A judge told him so. Yes, Miller was in front of a judge this week. That judge told Miller that, as far as the law is concerned, he is deceased. Check out the story right here.
F Devin Oakes, who was released by the Kamloops Blazers earlier this week, has joined the BCHL's Merritt Centennials. Oakes, 18, is from Prince Rupert, B.C. He was pointless in two games with the Blazers this season. . . .
D Jesse Forsberg, who was dealt by the Seattle Thunderbirds to Moose Jaw this week, didn't play for the Warriors in Brandon on Friday night. According to James Gallo of the Warriors, Forsberg has a hip-pointer. . . . Prior to that game in Brandon, Andy Neal of Shaw TV tweeted: "Last Friday's W for Brandon was Kelly McCrimmon's 334th career victory behind the bench, moves past Willie Desjardins for 18th most all-time." . . . The Wheat Kings won 3-2 in a shootout last night. . . . Brandon D Ryan Pulock was back after a one-game injury-related absence. . . . Moose Jaw F Todd Fiddler was a healthy scratch. . . . The host Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds went to OT for the seventh time in the last 12 meetings between the teams last night. Seattle won this one, 4-3. . . .
F Boston Leier is loving life in Regina. He scored three times last night — it was the 20-year-old's first WHL hat trick — as the Pats dropped the Vancouver Giants 5-4 in OT. Leier, who was acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers on Oct. 2, has five goals and an assist in his last two games. . . . The Giants have lost seven in a row. According to Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post, the Giants are without five injured forwards. . . .
The Red Deer Rebels may have lost F Vukie Mpofu to injury in the third period of a 4-3 OT victory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders last night. According to Red Deer Advocate sports editor Greg Meachem, Mpofu left "after being taken into the boards by the Raiders’ Mackenze Stewart, and didn’t return." Stewart was hit with a boarding major and game misconduct and may be looking at a suspension.
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