Sunday, February 27, 2011

All Things Avs post: Dater squelches rumors that nobody else has spread

Here, Dater chimes in to let us know that the rumors of Adam Foote and Paul Stastny being traded are unfounded. The funny thing is that the rumors that either might be traded wouldn't be spreading in the first place, if not for AD himself. As soon as 'Denver Post's Avalanche Beat Writer Adrian Dater" blogs about a rumor, it gains a credibility it doesn't necessarily deserve. Dater should realize this, and be a bit more selective with the trade rumors he spits out.

Who would trade for Foote right now? He's been flat-out awful, and hurt on top of that. He has next to nothing to add to a contending team. Any team for whom Adam Foote would actually help at D would be nowhere near the playoffs... why would the Flyers trade for a 39-year old, 7th defenseman? This rumor just never added up from the get-go, but that didn't stop Dater from passing it on.

And Dater was clearly the one stirring the pot with the Stastny rumors. He says he hears things "around the water cooler," but really all he does is follow Eklund and parrot anything he hears. This is the hockey-rumor equivalent of somebody at the NY Times repeating what he read in the Weekly World News about Obama coming to an agreement with the Aliens.

This just occurred to me, honestly, for the first time... what if Dater IS Eklund? The M.O. fits... He exists not to be an actual source of information, but solely to drive traffic to a web site. He just throws out a bunch of second-hand information and 1500 absolutely retarded ideas; starts rumors sending practically every player in the league to every team, and the dozen or so that, mathematically speaking, are bound to come true, he points to with confidence and and says "See? I was right." Hmmmm... the pieces all seem to fit, don't they.....?

After thinking about it for a minute, I don't think that Dater is Eklund. I am not sure Dater's sly enough to write this well-done article about his own secret identity just to throw people off the trail. But, Eklund may very well be Dater's Spirit Animal.

Grade: B-

Avs/Kings recap

In this article, Adrian Dater recaps the LA Kings' 4-3 win over the reeling Avalanche, now losers of 12 of their last 13 games. As usual, his "real" coverage is a few notches better than his blog entries, but there are a couple things in this article that I will use to demonstrate how the conflict of interest between his highly-opinionated and much-less-highly-educated blog negatively affects his regular coverage.

The intro to this article, in stark contrast to a lot of Dater's work, is really not bad. Flowery language such as  "swirling, snow-driven puck" and "Quick's guarded twine" is a bit too Dickie Dunn for my taste, but he does a good job setting the stage here. As I've said before, his intros are very often awkward at best, so when he comes close to pulling one off, I feel I should give him props for it.

He accurately notes that while the score was close, the game was not, as the Avs pretty much got manhandled in the first 40 minutes, and only a bad shift from the Kings where Jones scored twice, and a misplayed puck by Quick in the final minute which led to a fluky Stastny goal, made this one appear to be a close game. Dater also includes a quote from Liles, which is good. It's always a sign of good journalism when the subjects, rather than the author, tell the story.

A problem -- or the seeds of one, anyway -- crops up when he describes the play of newly acquired goalie Brian Elliot:

New goalie Brian Elliott wasn't to blame for this one. The recently acquired netminder made many good saves among his 38. Yeah, he might want one back, scored by L.A.'s Drew Doughty with 1.1 seconds left in the second period that made it a 3-0 game. But otherwise, Elliott was the only Av who looked like he cared in the first two periods.

Is there a problem with that description? No, not at all... but Dater's well-documented bias against Peter Budaj makes this stand out a bit. Had Budaj allowed those four goals, I am confident in saying that Dater would have described at least two, if not three of them as "soft." Any shot that makes its way in through the five-hole or from the point is "soft" in Dater's book, as long as it's Budaj who lets it in. Elliot gets a far different treatment than Budaj would likely have received in the same situation.

Here is what Dater had to say about Peter Budaj in the team's only win in the last month, a 4-3 win over the Blues in which Budaj made 42 saves:

"                                                                                                                                                                "

Budaj, who was very solid all through that game and made two or three huge saves in the frantic final minute to seal the win, got nary a mention in that writeup... but Dater not only mentions Elliot's play in this loss, but he's wearing the kid gloves, even giving Elliot a pat on the back.

Now, to be clear, I'm not down on Elliot after this game -- I've said for quite a while that no goalie is going to look good playing for a team this defensively irresponsible -- I'm only using this as an example of how Dater demonstrates his bias, and how it seeps into his "real" coverage of the team.

Why is it a problem? Here's why: because those who did not watch the game are counting on Dater's article to tell them how it went down... that's the entire point of newspaper coverage, when you get right down to it. The people who read the article now have an idea about Elliot's play... but is it accurate, or is Dater boosting Elliot's play (just as he often did Anderson's) so he can continue to have a contrast to hold Budaj up to? Right there is the problem we get when we allow a journalist to exploit his bias... the reader cannot trust Dater's descriptions in this regard because he has already emphatically stated his preferences. The reader cannot trust that Elliot really wasn't too bad in this loss, any more than he can trust that Budaj was not a factor in that win... bias such as Dater's poisons the journalism, and it should not be allowed, period.

Overall, a good article on a bad game, but the article includes hints at the possibility that Dater has already started allowing his pro-Anderson/ anti-Budaj bias to seep into his coverage of Elliot.


All Things Avs post: Eeyore returns, time to start tankin'

Do you ever get the impression that Dater just LOVES to throw dirt on the Avalanche? I'm not suggesting that he actually enjoys it, because he's a fan like the rest of us no matter what he says. But, he's one of those types of fans that thinks if a team can't make the playoffs that there's just absolutely nothing worth watching about them at all. He gets so mopey about it... he's basically a fan who can't stand to see them lose, and so when they lose he flips around and attacks as a defense mechanism.

Remember Randy Quaid's character in Major League 2? No, of course you don't, nobody actually saw Major League 2... this guy starts out a huge Indians fan, but sours on the team quickly as they fail to meet expectations. However, instead of just going home, he keeps coming to games just to gripe about them and generally annoy everybody in his section, until they actually win the pennant and all of a sudden, he's a huge fan again. That's Dater.

This blog is basically Dater throwing in the towel on the season for probably the dozenth time. According to Dater, we're at the point where losses are better than wins because it gets them closer to the top pick in the draft... which Dater admits he has no earthly idea who that might be (Adam Larsson -- look him up AD). But really, why does anybody want to read a guy whining about the Avs and suggesting they just start losing on purpose?

Dater throws in some of his standard, no-insight analysis on the loss to the Kings: "No passion, no spirit, no toughness, no nothin’" It's pablum, yet another in a long line of blog entries that leave the reader not one iota more informed than before it was read. If I ever get my wish and Dater's blog was a personal Avalanche blog and it/he were totally unaffiliated with the Denver Post, would anybody read it? What exactly does it offer?

I will admit that every once in a while he will do something useful such as post practice video or Q&A in the locker room, stuff that we can't really get elsewhere... but beyond that, his blog is the biggest collection of nothing I could imagine for an Avs fan. I was watching the NHL Network last night and they talked about the game, and the guy behind the desk broke down three or four plays and explained exactly what the Avs were doing right, at exactly the point where one (or more) Avs made the wrong decision, and how the Kings took advantage of it. It was pretty darn good for a 90-second breakdown... but not once did I see this guy pause the video and say, "Right here, the Avs could have used a bit more passion, a bit more spirit." If the guy who's job is to give a cursory glance to every game in the league every night and find something to talk about can offer some insight and analysis, why can't the guy who's job it is to cover one team at least match that, if not exceed it?

Dater then says something that kind of baffles me:

The Kings got two 5-on-3s and the Avs killed them both – and still lost. That almost never happens
I'm pretty sure that happens a lot, actually.  My guess is that teams that get multiple 5-on-3s against them during a game usually DO end up losing most of those games, whether they kill the 5-on-3s or not. A team that gets more than one 5-on-3 against them in a single game is probably playing frantic, undisciplined, stupid hockey, which is not a description that is usually applied to the winning team. Odd statement there by Dater.

Dater moves on to a question he asked of Sacco about the players tuning out to his (Sacco's, that is) message. He doesn't seem to think that's likely, and I agree, but he asked the question anyway, and apparently Sacco either didn't understand the question or refused to answer it. He uses this to lead into one of his Glenn Beck moments about whether Sacco and Sherman will return next season.
Dater closes by pointing out yet again that Craig Anderson is playing well for the Sens. He and I seem to be coming at this from entirely different angles... to him, Anderson's good play in Ottawa is proof that the Avs should never have traded him in the first place, while to me it's proof that the little signs I thought I picked up on during games that told me he wasn't giving his best effort were probably accurate. The man had clearly mailed it in for the better part of the year in Denver; his light-switch resurgence in Ottawa supports that belief, and the Avs are better off without a guy like that.

D+ Not terrible, but the relentless negativity that Dater believes gives him credibility is, in reality, simply annoying. Another display of non-analytical game analysis leaves the reader wondering why they clicked on his blog in the first place.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

All Things Avs post: The word "Bombshell" gets a new, stupider meaning

This is just a much-ado-about-nothing post about Peter Stastny's opinion on the state of the Avalanche. Basically, it boils down to the notion that a guy's opinion on the team is actually a "bombshell" if his son happens to play on that team. The opinions of retired old men are now "bombshells" ...that explains why the Elks Club is such a hotbed of controversy.

Keep in mind that Peter Stastny has absolutely no connection with the current Avalanche, other than that his kid plays for them. Yes, he's a Hall of Famer and yes, he's kind of a big deal... but it's still just one guy's opinion. He's basically just one of about a million hockey fans who has something to say, but since his last name is "Stastny," people listen. Fair enough... if Kyle Orton's dad said that the Broncos sucked, I guess I'd be interested to hear him out, too. But, "bombshell?" Seriously?

When Stastny (the elder) says that the Avs were "ready to challenge for a Stanley Cup," it really kind of derails his argument right off the bat. So why make a big deal out of this story? Because it's sensational, in the true meaning of the word. "Bombshell." "Explosive." "Ripping to shreds..." sorry, but I hardly think those comments qualify for these adjectives simply because the one who said them is somebody's dad.

The biggest issue I have with this blog post (and the "real news" story that mimics it) is Dater's attempt to connect Paul Stastny with his father's comments... as if the Avs are going to shun the guy because his dad thinks they made a bad trade. That's quite a stretch. I really don't think that somebody's dad is going to have a great effect on how teammates view one another. I feel pretty confident stating that the Avalanche players had already made up their minds one way or another about these trades and the players involved, and that Paul's dad's opinion didn't have any effect on the locker room at all.

And calling Stastny (either of them, really, but I'm referring to Peter here) a "franchise icon" is a bit of a stretch, too. If Peter were an icon, you'd think his name and number would be hanging up in the Avs' arena, wouldn't you? It is abundantly clear that the Avs don't consider the Nordiques a part of their history, so I don't see the point of trying to make a connection that doesn't really exist, simply to notch up the sensationalism.

I think it's a damn shame that Stastny and Michel Goulet don't have their numbers retired at a single NHL arena, but for some reason Raymond Bourque has his retired in two. That Bourque sure is a franchise icon, all right... when I think of the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise, the first thing I think of is Raymond Bourque, and vice versa. But  to be fair, that's a gripe for the Avalanche, not for Dater. Sorry for getting you involved in that little aside AD.

Anyway, Stastny's comments probably did deserve some media coverage, but it's certainly not the huge deal Dater makes it out to be. Everybody's dad says something stupid every once in a while, but that doesn't make them all "bombshells." Dater closes by saying that it might not be a big deal, after all... but then why present it like it will be? He does that a lot: Dater presents something meant to be provocative, throws out all these possibilities, and then at the very end, backs off completely, and does the "It's probably not a big deal/I'm just asking questions" thing. It's a cowardly way to write, quite frankly. I'd say that this is Yellow Journalism at its finest, except that makes it sound as if there's something positive here. So I will call it garden-variety Yellow Journalism, and give this a

Thursday, February 24, 2011

All Things Avs posts: Sharks/Avs recap

After a few blog entries that simply reviewed the recent trades the team has made without offering a great deal of insight, Dater had this entry after the Avs got shut out against San Jose.

Up to this point, Dater had done a reasonably good job with his assessments of the two big trades over the weekend: he seemed to understand the reasoning behind the Anderson trade (they were not going to re-sign him anyway, might as well flip him for somebody they might be able to hold on to and develop) and kept his remarks largely in the "boy, things sure happen fast!" neighborhood. And his comments on the Stewart/Shattenkirk-Johnson trade were equally balanced: Dater worries that giving up Stewart is a mistake, but he also knows that Johnson is exactly the sort of player he's been saying the Avs need all along, and you've got to give up talent to get talent. Again, up to this point, he'd been OK, and those blog entries together receive a C+ grade.

But all it took was one game to end all that. This blog entry is a return to the mopey, pessimistic, sky-is-falling attitude that pervades Dater's work... if it had stopped there, then it would have been merely bad. However, this blog entry also offers an example of one of the prime reasons Adrian Dater should be removed from the Avalanche beat: his clearly-stated bias towards certain players and against others.

Dater starts with a variation of his "I'm not one to (blank), but...," this time saying, "I'm not going to start second-guessing the Stewart-Johnson deal tonight, after one game." I have my doubts, but let's take him at his word on that, and move on...

Next, he digs into the Anderson trade. Remember, he was pretty shruggy about this one up to this point, but that was before Anderson stood on his head for Ottawa that night and sent him all into a tizzy.

But I still want to second-guess the Craig Anderson deal some. I still can’t believe Anderson is gone. He was so great last year, and now he’s gone, traded for a guy who has been terrible all year in Ottawa. Can’t believe that’s all that came of Anderson, after a first year in which he literally carried the team into the playoffs, playing 71 games.

So, you can't believe it. OK. Rub your eyes, take a deep breath, and get back to work. Guess what? Anderson was terrible all year in Denver, too... so what's your point? One good game in Ottawa and he's a Vezina candidate?

Oh, and do you have any idea what the word "literally" means, Dater? This is one thing I can't stand for, is when a person who is PAID TO USE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE treats it like this. "Literally" is a word, it has a meaning. Learn it.

So many fans seem to think he “quit” on the team this year. Does anybody have any evidence of that? I sure can’t find any. 

Well, there were all those times he half-assed a save attempt, where he played like he didn't really care. He didn't look like the same goalie he did in the first half of last season, and even his biggest fans would admit it. Ironically, the Ottawa game Dater is talking about that convinces him that Anderson should have been the Avs Goalie Of The Future is all the proof some of us need to show that Anderson's play this season was the result of giving up on the team... in his first game in Ottawa (a team with pretty bad defense, themselves) he performed like he hadn't for Colorado all year. Looks like pretty convincing evidence to me that he might have been holding something back with the Avs. Good riddance to him.

Sorry, but I’m an Anderson guy. I think this: I think Anderson DID feel less wanted this year, after the Avs didn’t give the time of day to his agent toward talks on a new contract.

Two problems with this one. First, it came to light right after this that the Avs DID, in fact, offer Anderson a very nice contract and a substantial raise, and he turned them down. Glaring mistakes like this are why real reporters routinely include something called "fact gathering" as part of their work.

The big problem here, though, is:  "I'm an Anderson guy." How often do we see a professional journalist proclaim the guys he likes and doesn't like the way Dater does? It's just ridiculous... journalism is all about being free from bias on the subject you are covering, and what bias you cannot rid yourself, you do your best to mask and keep out of your stories. Not only does Dater fail to make an attempt to keep his personal bias about the Avalanche out of his writing, he pretty much flaunts it. Frankly, I can't believe he hasn't been fired for this sort of thing. He should be.

Then he had a couple of bad games, and suddenly he was in a rotation basis with Peter Budaj. That’s where I split with the coaching decisions from there on the goaltending. I still think Anderson needed another bunch of games to play by himself before he started to be in a platoon position with a guy who has NEVER proven himself as a No. 1.
AD, he had more than "a couple of bad games." He was under .500, and his backup had better stats than he did. This is the problem with bias in reporting... it makes you unable to discern (and thereby report) report the truth. Bias is poison to journalism.

Now, if you're one of those who will dismiss it by saying "But it's only a blog!" consider this: yes, a blog writer is different than a journalist and is subject to different ethical boundaries (if any)... but when a blog writer IS a journalist, it creates a major problem, and this is a perfect example of it. It is a conflict of interest to get paid as a journalist to cover the Avalanche, and then spew out ill-informed and completely personal opinions on the same subject, ESPECIALLY on the same website.

And why take a dig at Budaj here? Budaj did his job as the Avalanche backup this season. Anderson failed, spectacularly, in his job as the starter... but what does Dater do? Defends Anderson, attacks Budaj. Recall just a bit ago when I said that bias poisons journalism? There's the evidence of it, right there... no hockey mind or journalist would ever suggest that the problem with a team is its backup goaltender.

After bitching about this for another few paragraphs, Dater then returns, as you knew he would, to second-guess the Johnson-Stewart deal for a while. Big surprise, right?

Dater does get one thing right in this blog entry, and this is it:

I was wrong.

He's wrong about a lot of stuff, folks, but that hasn't stopped him yet.

Grade: F

Postscript: The comments section produced an interesting exchange. 

Why are you so quick to cut Andy all the slack in the world and just as quick to throw Budaj under the bus and back over him? 

Jimbo (me):
I agree... Dater goes out of his way here to make excuses for Anderson, but when it comes time to discuss Budaj Dater dismisses him with one sentence.

Whether Budaj hs proved he can be a #1 goalie or not, he DID prove to the coaches and the Avs that he gave them a better chance to win than Anderson this season, and that says it all... if Budaj's as bad as Dater says and the Avs STILL went with him, then we've just learned everything we need to know about what Andy brought to the team... if Dater put his massive bias aside for a bit he might be able to give a better analysis on the goaltending situation, but he'd rather be the writer with an edge than the writer with the insightful commentary and analysis. 

Congrats on the most idiotic post of the 100 comments so far. Bravo!
How many games has Budaj won lately, I wonder? Oh, and Anderson won 13 games this year, and Budaj 12 so far. So there goes your statement about giving them the best chance to win.

Jimbo (me): 
How is my comment idiotic? I said that the coaches and the Avs had pretty clearly stated that Budaj gave them the best chance to win, as evidenced by his increased workload as the season went along. Prove me wrong... go ahead. Show everybody what an idiot I am, or admit what a petty, unprofessional writer YOU are. 

I thought I made a pretty good point, don't you? After being given a very heavy workload to start the season, and then again after he returned from his knee injury, Anderson eventually fell into a platoon situation with Budaj, and then near the end it seemed he might actually be headed towards a backup role. They ultimately traded Anderson away, of course, and on top of all that, Sacco actually said at one point "Right now [Budaj] gives us a chance to win"... the clear implication being that Anderson did not.

That sure seems like a lot of compelling evidence to back up my statement that the Avs' decisions (and statements) about the goaltending told us a lot about what they really thought of Anderson as the season went on. Dater apparently doesn't like reasoning that follows a linear path, however, as it clogs up his frothy-bias machine and he has to spend the rest of the night getting it running again. So instead of responding to the argument, Dater throws out some facts that don't really support his point (or damage mine), and lashes out, calling my post "idiotic." Classy.

Now, it was pointed out that it might not have been Dater himself posting as "Adrian," and I responded that if this was the case I apologized to the real Dater... but frankly, I have little doubt it was Dater who wrote that comment. All it does is show how thin both his knowledge of the game AND his skin really are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dater Submits "Mailbag" from Exile on Mars

Ever since Forsberg shocked the hockey world by retiring three years after everybody outside Denver assumed he already had, Adrian Dater has been in hiding. I realize it's only been like two days, and some may claim that these were going to be his days off anyway, but I think we know better... he's sitting around in his underpants listening to sad songs, thinking back to the way things were. We've all done it, AD... no need to be ashamed. I truly hope that someday soon he can throw Peter Forsberg's picture into some sort of bumfire in a barrel and bravely make the choice to move on, but let's give him some time.

At any rate, Mike Chambers has been filling nicely with succinct coverage and well-written blogs, with Dater's only recent contribution being the latest "Avs Mailbag" entry. So let's dig into that! In this Mailbag entry, Dater tackles eight questions, with varying degrees of success.

The first question asks of Dater, "how would you... decide to build the Avs' defense for next season?"

I suppose I could make a crack such as "thank goodness Dater is not in charge of building the Avs defense for next season," but that could be read as to imply that he could do worse than has been done this season, and to be fair, I don't think that's necessarily true. I think that monkeys could fling their feces at a marked-up wall as a form of rudimentary decision-making process, and reach a better result, roster-wise, than this year's Avs have done. Have I just implied that Dater could build an NHL team better than a group of monkeys flinging poo? Yes, I have. I leave it to you, the reader, to decide whether I have insulted Dater or monkeys to the greater degree.

However, I do think that the Avs GM (either Pierre LaCroix, or the guy they currently have pretending to the be GM instead of LaCroix) has done a better job building this defense than Dater has done answering this question. Dater COMPLETELY dodges the primary question the person asked here, and instead answers the supplementary question, "Did you think this slump was going to happen?" This allows him to go to his " I told you so" voice and to throw in vague cliches like "hunger," rather than risking an answer that would require him to look forwards rather than backwards and to offer some actual insight and/or analysis. Answer #1: D--. Yep, that's two minuses. The F is reserved for the monkeys.
Question #2 asks whether Calvin Pickard (I'd love to see his helmet artwork) could come up to the Avs and play some goal. As opposed to his answer to the first question, Dater answers this question so directly and with such authority ("No, he can't") that I am nearly convinced he's not mistaken. Answer #2: A

Question #3 is a fairly stupid question: "Is (Anderson) really available for trade?" Dater resists the urge to answer a stupid question with a stupid answer, explaining that the only player that the Avalanche would not trade if they had an offer is Duchene, but that no serious contender would trade for Anderson right now, anyway. He's right... if ever a player laid a big, stinky egg right when he had the opportunity to cash in BIG TIME as a free agent, it's Anderson. I don't know if the Avs' list of untouchables really starts and ends with Duchene, but it's a good enough answer to get a B.

Question #4 reads: "Could please ask Adam Foote why he has yet to play in Columbus since he left? He divided the lockerroom and sandbagged it here his last year and has yet to show his face on the ice in an Avs uniform."---Tadd, Columbus, Ohio

Dater's answer: "Well, actually Foote has played two games in Columbus since leaving there for the Avs. They were Dec. 5 and Jan. 2 of last season. Those must have skipped your mind, Tadd."

This is one of those cases where Dater's answer is actually 100% correct, but since he only included the question to give himself the opportunity to make himself appear smarter than the person who asked the question, he gets a poor grade. Not only does Dater love the low-hanging fruit, but he frequently makes a big deal out of it when it gets it... and luckily for him, his readers seem to give him plenty of opportunities. A responsible reporter would have given this question the ignoring it deserves, but Dater pounced on it. His snotty pettiness leads to a D+ grade here.

Question #5 is from a Hejduk fan in some part of the other side of the world where, I'm guessing, the sun never rises and they poop in a trench cut down the middle of the street. This guy is practically begging Dater to tell him that the Avs will get better in much the same way some doe-eyed kid begs his mother to tell him that mommy and daddy still love each other. Dater, demonstrating no compassion at all, tells the truth and essentially says, "Probably not, but hang in there anyway." Answer #5: C-... accurate, but in a useless manner (The grade here is higher than for #4 only because he's much less of a dick about it this time, but still below average because of the inclusion of the phrase "burnin' watchin' Hedjie"). Again, as in the last question, he's probably correct, but he's now addressed two stupid questions just to make himself appear smarter... essentially what I'm doing with this blog, except I'm not getting a paycheck for it.

Next is an Altitude/Haynes and McNab question. I always find it interesting to read how Dater views the ethics of other journalists. He correctly points out that Haynes and McNab are employed to "promote the brand" of the Avalanche, rather than as objective reporters, and then goes off on a tangent about how he would do it if it were up to him... not really the question that was asked, but OK. His comments there are pretty close to my thoughts -- Altitude is a bit of a joke as far as "coverage" of the Avs is concerned (although I seem to have noticed a distinct improvement over the last couple seasons) -- but then again, Dater's coverage in the Post leaves a lot to be desired, too. An example of that is in this question: in the process of answering it, Dater uses the words "I," "My," or "Me" thirteen times. The question was not about you, Dater, it was about Altitude. B-, and I feel that I am being generous with my grade here (six "I/me/mys," BTW, and that's with me throwing in three at the end... oops, make that four).

The next question was a quickie about Altitude switching from the game to the Nuggets game. Not really an "Avalanche" question much as it is a "television" question, but at least Dater answers it quickly and succinctly, and doesn't waste much time on it... but he could just as easily have chosen to not include it at all. That's three questions in this mailbag that aren't really worthy of being published or answered... it sure seems like Dater is padding this thing with creampuff questions. Is he not getting enough questions sent to him for this feature, or is it that the easy ones are the only ones he feels comfortable answering? Creampuff answers get creampuff grades: C-.

Right after I get done bitching about lame questions, the final question rolls up, about the Avs' ownership, and whether their focus on the Nuggets and the Carmello Anthony issue have hurt the Avs' chances at making the playoffs this season. A decent question, and a good one for Dater to close with... how does he handle it?

Well to be honest, he puts the barrel of the bat on this one, and gives a great answer. I pretty much agree; as many problems as this Avalanche team has, I really don't think they can be laid at the feet of the owners. Much like the Rockies, this team has decided to go with a "grow from within" philosophy, and they're sticking with it. Kroenke has never failed to sign the checks, and as many issues as they've had this season, I don't think changing philosophies halfway through will make things any better in the long run.

Kudos to Dater for resisting the rather easy mob mentality answer, and basically responding that the Avs are following a formula that has created a number of successful NHL teams recently (Chicago, Pittsburgh), and that the ownership has had little bearing here one way or the other. I give Dater an A- on this answer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

All Things Avs blog: The Rending of Garments

In this blog entry, Dater presents his recap of the day's events. Only two things really happened today: Peter Forsberg did not show up to play hockey, and the Colorado Avalanche did not show up to play hockey. So really, it was a pretty uneventful day when you think about it.

Dater starts with another "Look, I don't usually (blank), but..." intro, and considering that this entry is gloomily subtitled "The Darkest Day in Avalanche History," it looks like it's going to be a solid "F" from the get-go. The second paragraph begins with Dater describing the day as a "disaster in Colorado Avalanche history." I know he's feeling the pain today, but a disaster would be the team plane hitting the side of a mountain (presumably, one that does not resemble a hockey goal). An aging player who can't skate announcing his retirement is NOT a disaster, and a 9-1 butt-kicking is just that, a butt-kicking. So I would have backed off a bit on the "disaster" description, and maybe just have said that the day did not go exactly as planned.

Dater moves on to question whether Sacco will keep his job, and to wonder what other changes might take place before the Feb. 28 trading deadline. I know it's just a quick thing here, but this is a big part of what bothers me about Dater's blog: once again, he's thinking (and writing) like a fan, and not a reporter. He's treading very close to a conflict of interest here... as soon as he says "Sacco should be fired," he pretty much loses his ability (if not the right) to cover Sacco or the team objectively. Of course, many fans are wondering themselves if Sacco will/should keep his job, and they are wondering what the Avs will do to address their losing streak... but Dater's personal musings on the matter should remain personal. At least, though, he doesn't try to answer these questions here, he simply asks them.

He does include some insight from Peter McNab about the team's current struggles, and McNab's assessment is a good one. He says, essentially, that a team needs to lose like this to learn how to win, and I couldn't agree more. To this point in the season, I think the Avs have skated hard and are trying their best, for the most part, and that's a good sign. This losing streak hasn't been a product of any lack of effort, but rather a dearth of talent and experience. I'm going to go ahead and write off the Calgary game as the result of the month-long Forsberg distraction coming to its inevitable conclusion, and hopefully they continue to play hard, even if the wins remain difficult to come by.

Dater closes with a teary good-bye to Forsberg, saying he was honored to cover him and to shake his hand, and telling him he was the best player he ever saw. It's pretty clear that's not really an objective statement by any stretch of the imagination, but I suppose it's probably OK for a reporter to say something like that after a guy's already retired. I'm going to have to think about that for a bit.

Grade: C-  It starts off just awful, really, with Dater not even remotely interested in acting like anything other than an Avalanche fan, throwing in some impressive hyperbole and some truly high-end Feeling Sorry For Ourselves. Adding the insight from McNab, and a good-bye to Forsberg that comes close to being authentically touching, pulls it up from a low D.

Post-Forsberg and Flames blogs: Chambers Gets To the Point

With Dater likely using everything at his disposal to destroy the brain cells responsible for remembering the date of February 14, 2011, Mike Chambers takes over for these two blog entries and offers his get-to-the-point blogging style. The first is one of what seemed like about a dozen "Forsberg Retires" options for us to click on at the Denver Post's Avalanche page, all of them pretty much repetitions of the rest.

I get the feeling that many of these articles came from the same pre-written source, like what they do with celebrity obituaries. You just know that there's a pre-written obituary on file somewhere for people like Charlie Sheen, Courntey Love, and Tupac Shakur, so when they die all somebody has to do is pull it out and enter the correct date. I wouldn't be surprised if there's been a "Forsberg Retires" article hidden in Dater's desk drawer for years... he probably sealed it in an envelope with a shiny red heart sticker and refused to even look at it until today.

Anyway, back to business... here, Chambers throws in a few quotes from players and Sacco. This is what the 'official' Post Avs blog should look like: brief, info-filled versions of the full stories to come.

The second entry is a recap of the Avs/Flames game of Monday night, and a look forward to the Avs next opponent, the Penguins. Can we call last night's activity a "game?" Games are supposed to be fun. Let's just say that two teams met at Pepsi Center in much the same way that a northbound tractor-trailer meets a southbound Beetle on the interstate. Chambers gets big points for including a quote from the opposition (in this case, Jarome Iginla), something else I'd like to see more of.

As I said earlier, Chambers' use of the blog here is exactly what I believe should be the norm: quick, info-packed blogs with a little personality thrown in (referring to the Avs as the "blue and black" rather than "blue and maroon" was pretty funny, I thought), but still with the focus on the team and the game, not the author. Not as formal as an article, but still professional, and Chambers pulls it off nicely.

Grade: A

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dater's Heart Broken on Valentine's Day: Forsberg Retires

I am one of what appears to be a distinct minority of fans who has been annoyingly pessimistic about the Forsberg comeback, pretty much ever since he returned from Sweden to practice with the Avalanche. I saw how he looked during the 2010 Olympics (where he was flat-out awful, to the point of hurting his team); I followed what he was doing in Sweden, where he couldn't seem to stay injury-free even playing in a league full of floppin' Swedes... and when he said he was trying for a comeback, I just felt in my bones it would not turn out well. I was worried that he'd end up discouraged, his fans would end up disappointed, the Avalanche would end up distracted, and that ultimately he'd only be good to sell tickets.

Unfortunately, I was correct on all counts except for the ticket thing, because he never even stepped on home ice in front of the Colorado fans before announcing his retirement. As it turned out, I wish I'd been right about that part, too, for at least one night, as I think it would have been a nice gesture for Forsberg to appear at least once in Denver to let his fans send him off right. The fact that Forsberg realized he could not compete did not surprise me, but it happened earlier than even earlier than I would have guessed, as it apparently took only two games to convince the man, at long last, that his foot simply could not handle the NHL game.

There were many who seemed to think Forsberg looked good in the two games he played, and I must admit that at times, he looked far better than I every would have guessed he might. But then again, there were shifts in those games where he just looked bad... not bad for Forsberg, but bad, period. He couldn't hold his own on the ice, and he couldn't defend the space around him because he was just very, very easy to push around... and if there was anything Forsberg never could be described as, it would be "very easy to push around."

Dater must have taken this especially hard, considering that not twelve hours earlier he'd publicly outed himself as a Foppa fanboy (it was always a bit of an open secret, anyway). He puts a brave face on and sucks it up, though, and offers a fairly straightforward article that builds on his observations from the Predators game (and afterward), doing a good job of convincing the reader that this announcement was a surprise to everybody, perhaps even to Forsberg himself. Dater makes good use of quotes, both from teammates and coach Sacco, to keep this article moving forward, and overall it's a pretty good effort. Yeah, there's some Forsberg love, and it's clear Dater is going to carry a torch for the guy for quite a while, but when one of the best players of his era retires, there's a spot in good journalism for a slow-motion, soft focus fade to black.

Grade: A

Full disclosure: I'm a long-time Red Wings fan first, an Avs fan a somewhat distant second. But in my opinion, Peter Forsberg in the mid-late 90s was the best hockey player on the planet, full stop. I think Sergei Fedorov came very, very close in talent, skill, and accomplishment, but overall Forsberg gets the nod. Fedorov probably surpassed Forsberg in raw ability, to tell the truth, but what Fedorov never really had was that which made a gimpy 37-year-old Forsberg fly back to Denver and practice for three weeks, just to play 30 more painful and fruitless minutes in the NHL: the absolute lust to play hockey at its highest level, and to flatten anybody who dared try to keep him from that goal. Some say that Forsberg will be missed, but I've missed the guy for years. Good  luck, Peter, and thanks.

Dr. Dater Examines Avs' Slump

In this article, Adrian Dater takes a look at the Avalanche's fall from playoff contention two months ago to being 14th in the conference today.

The article starts by reminding us that right before Christmas, the Avalanche were tied for first in the Northwest Division and riding a six-game win streak. Dater quickly shatters that fond memory, however, by rudely bringing us back to the present:

Like roses still on the coffee table six months after Valentine's Day, everything has wilted for the Avalanche. The team that will take the Pepsi Center ice tonight against the Calgary Flames is in 14th place in the Western Conference and on a seven-game losing streak — the longest since the team moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995.

Intros often seem like they give Dater trouble. He's always trying to do something clever, but he rarely succeeds. Here, he gets off to a very promising start by connecting the joy and hope of Christmas to the optimism surrounding the Avs at the time, but then in the second paragraph, he switches rather abruptly to Valentine's Day flowers. I realize they're dead flowers, and I suppose some cranky people may associate Valentine's Day with some pretty negative emotions to begin with, but it really derailed what had the potential to be a solid introduction. Why not have simply carried the Christmas theme through to the present, and compared the Avs' season at this point to the Christmas tree still up a month and a half later... brown, dry, and brittle, should have been taken to the curb a while ago? Nice try, I guess, but it could have been so much better. 

Dater then goes through a laundry-list of causes for the Avs' rapid fall from grace: Injuries (including those to Anderson and Stewart), questionable personnel decisions (primarily the benching of certain players, which he addressed more thoroughly in a blog entry), the falloff in Stastny and Duchene's play, and poor (to be kind) defense... correctly noting that while the goaltending has been pretty bad, the goalies didn't have much of a chance behind the defense the team has been playing. 

It's all pretty good, actually. This is the sort of article I'd like to see more of when Dater's in an anylitical mood... he keeps it simple, straightforward, and free of the editorializing of which he's often guilty. One quibble is that I would like to see a bit more statistical analysis to back up some of these claims; for example, Dater states that after Stewart went down with his broken hand, "the team started to really struggle offensively without him." It sounds like a good observation, but the team actually fared pretty well without Stewart in the lineup; it wasn't until the loss of Fleischmann that the Avs' offensive struggles really started to hit hard. A look at the numbers would have revealed this, and it would have made for a much stronger article.

Really, the only complaint is that Dater falls into the "Stastny makes a lot of money" trap, which always annoys me. Who cares if he makes a lot of money? They ALL make a lot of money, but it's a team sport... the fact that Stastny makes more doesn't mean he should be singled out when the entire team fails. Stastny's contract is not hurting this team, they are barely spending any money at all on players as it is. Complaining about player salaries is an easy way out... it's the sort of thing a casual fan does, but a professional journalist should not.

And again, some statistical analysis would really help this argument that Stastny and Duchene aren't pulling their own weight. Stastny in particular is a playmaker, not a goal-scorer... after just getting done explaining that the team struggled offensively after losing their leading goal-scorer in Stewart, it could have led into a good exploration into the possibility that Stastny's struggles were due to losing one of the best targets for his passes. Looking into the numbers may have provided some insight into WHY Stastny and Duchene have been struggling, but Dater doesn't seem to want to take it that far.

Overall, though, this is the sort of article Dater should keep on writing. Clearly, he's expressing his opinions on what's going on, but he does it in a way that remains well within the bounds of responsible and ethical journalism. A bit more facts to boost his assertions would have made it a pretty good article, but then again, Dater was wise not to go too far beyond wading-pool-depth analysis, as the nuts-and-bolts of hockey isn't his strong point.

Grade: A-

Dater's Dear Diary Entry about Road Trip, Followed By Three Pages Filled With "Adrian Forsberg" Signature Practice.

In this article, Dater offers a brief reminiscence all the way back to the time where Peter Forsberg returned to the Avs in the midst of a four-game road trip in which the team lost all four games. Those were the days...

Basically just a couple half-done ideas thrown together into one article, this is a recap of the Avs' most recent road trip, almost entirely devoid of substance (the article, that is, not the road trip... although that's probably debatable). Dater begins by stating that never in his time covering the team has the Avalanche locker room been as quiet a place as it was following the Nashville loss. I like the way he lets the players and the room tell us how to feel here, rather than saying something like, "This team is really lost right now." Right or wrong, that would have been Dater's opinion... but by telling us what the locker room was like and how the players were acting, he actually reports what he saw, and lets the reader draw his or her own conclusion. It's good writing, and obviously, I'd like to see more of that from Dater.

No recap of this road trip would be complete without just getting lost in Peter Forsberg's baby blues for a bit, and naturally Dater obliges.

Savor every single moment of this comeback, folks. I totally am. I admit it — I'm a Foppa fan boy. The man has put me through the wringer as a reporter trying to decipher his clues, but consider me a willing glutton for punishment in this case. 

It'll be a long time before we ever see the likes of his kind again. I don't care what his stats are through the first two games, he's still the most compelling player to watch out there. And he easily could have had three or four points in those two games if not for good goaltending and the clumsy sticks of teammates.

Wow. I mean, how often to you hear a reporter actually write something like, "I'm a Foppa fan boy?" Honestly, he sounds like he's past just being a fanboy... he sounds a bit like he's actually enjoying a little Foppa S&M. On more than more than one occasion, Dater has chided reporters from other teams with the motto, "There's no cheering in the press box." It certainly seems like Dater could stand to take his own advice here, although it might be difficult for him to hear it with Forsberg whispering sweet nothings into his ear. While it's certainly no secret that Dater has always harbored a massive mancrush on Forsberg, there are still some lines you don't cross as a professional journalist, and flat-out admitting in print that you're currently slobbering all over the people you are assigned to cover is one of those lines.

Furthermore, what NHL player wouldn't have a few more points if not for good goaltending or botched plays by teammates? I realize Dater is trying to get us to look past Forsberg's numbers a bit here, but this just struck me as a really dumb thing to say. Love makes you say stupid things, apparently, and on Valentine's day, I suppose we should forgive Dater this one time.

He closes by thanking an unnamed Nashville cab driver for not stealing his stuff, despite his having been somewhat rude to the guy. It is nice to see that Dater's "faith in humanity" has been restored. I wonder how long it will last?

Grade: C+.  Although it did include a very nice, objective description of the Avs' state of mind following the Predators game, there is really no reason at all to have written this article. Because it is so completely useless, the Forsberg serenade doesn't seem quite as jarringly inappropriate as it probably should.

All Things Avs blog: Dater Puts Sacco On the Hotseat

In this blog entry, Dater focuses on some questions about coach Joe Sacco's handling of the Avalanche during their now-seven-game losing streak. Dater starts off, as he often does, with a personal story: this time, griping about cab drivers who don't like to accept credit cards (it's because their tip will be reported (and therefore taxable), Dater... if you're going to pay with a card, tell him up front you'll tip cash, and I reckon you won't get nearly as much resistance), and then thanking the creator of a Predators blog for giving him a ride to his hotel. Dater graciously links to that guy's blog. Hopefully, Dater actually checks out that blog, because it's a lot better than his.

Dater then uses his "I'm not one to (blank), but..." intro to lead into questioning many of the coaching moves made by Sacco recently. Dater says something in that lead-in paragraph that I completely agree with, and since I go out of my way to point out the things he says that I don't agree with, it's only fair to give him a high-five when he says something intelligent and insightful:

Coaches, to me, are guys who get too much credit when things go well for their team, and too much blame when things go bad.

This is exactly correct, and is why I'm not really too down on Sacco right now. Sacco, like his team, is learning the NHL game, and mistakes are to be expected. He was given a young and inexperienced, poorly-constructed, bargain-basement team that got hit hard by the injury bug, and none of that is Sacco's fault. However, he has been making some decisions that I think should be questioned if not necessarily criticized, and Dater touches on a few of them.

Despite the griping that follows, this entry did not come across like Dater thinks Sacco should be fired, or that he believes Sacco is the cause of the problems the team is facing right now. I personally think that's the correct angle here. Dater did a reasonably good job of keeping the focus on certain choices Sacco has made lately, such as yanking goalies mid-game, benching players to (presumably) send messages, and allowing David Koci anywhere near the ice with his skates on. Although I don't think the team has tuned Sacco out, I can definitely see how some of the things he's doing right now might get them on that path... and Dater alludes to this as well.

The issue with this blog, though, is the tone Dater uses throughout. Although the questions Dater asks are legit, he presents them in a typical-for-Dater watercooler voice that treads the line of appropriateness for a serious blog, but is far too conversational for a guy who's the Avs beat writer for the only major newspaper in town. I know that this is where a ton of people would say, "Hey, man, it's a blog, not an article. Stuff like that's OK in a blog," but then I would look down from my white horse and say, "Yeah, and for a regular fan the guidelines of journalism aren't a big deal in a blog, but it's not written by just a regular fan, he's the Avs beat writer, whether he's blogging or not."

Although not nearly as blatant as some others he's written, this entry is an example of the Conflict of Interest Dater creates with this type of coverage... it's Dater's job and responsibility to cover the Avalanche. If Dater wants to blog about cabbies and drug addiction and KISS, he can be as conversational as he wants (as long as the Post doesn't think he crosses some line or another), but when he blogs about the Avs, his blog must maintain the same level of professionalism and integrity as his reporting.

The questions he poses are appropriate and fair, but there is a way to approach them and maintain the professionalism expected from the team's beat writer, even when they're presented in a blog format. I really don't know how the Avs take this guy seriously when he asks questions, when he turns around and writes things like this.

To be honest, this topic would have made a great news article, had Dater done the reporter thing and asked these questions of Sacco himself... his readers could have learned a lot about the team and its coach with a good, hard-hitting investigative story about these issues. Instead of doing that admittedly difficult work, however, he just takes the easy way out, asks a bunch of open-ended questions that are really just criticisms with question marks at the end, and puts it out there for discussion.

In other news, Dater (of course) finds a way to get in a dig on Peter Budaj:

And then there have been some of Sacco’s other decisions (staying too long with Kyle Cumiskey, choosing him over Holos, benching Craig Anderson in favor of Peter Budaj, who simply isn’t a No. 1 goalie in this league...).

Why is that necessary? Budaj hasn't been the Avs' #1 guy in years. He's the backup, and that role has been pretty clearly defined. Has Sacco ever insinuated that Budaj was the number one goalie, or even that there was a goalie controversy on the horizon?  Not to my knowledge, making it a completely superfluous comment, but when Dater sees a spot to get a jab in at Budaj, he takes it.

So overall, Dater's inappropriate tone brings a reasonably solid effort down to C level. Too bad, because the idea was on target, but the resultant entry was lacking much.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Avs/Preds recap

Here we have Dater's recap of the Avs/Predators game on February 12, which the Predators won 5-3. It opens with a music reference -- a Dater favorite -- and then moves on to a very odd bit where he tries way, way too hard to combine Shaquille O'Neal and Disneyland into some sort of metaphor for the Avs' playoff chances. Rather weird, actually. Eventually, Dater does get around to talking about the game itself.

That part of the article is a fairly depressing rehash of the game, in which the Avs were outshot and outhustled significantly through the first two periods, but still managed to lead 3-2 not three minutes into the third period on a goal by Matt Duchene. However, since these are the Avs and there is no defense allowed, they gave that lead right back moments later, and then lost the game with 2:30 remaining when Winnik's weak clearing attempt was stopped at the blue line and subsequently shot through Budaj's legs.

Overall, the recap of the game is OK. Dater's full into his Debbie Downer mode, but frankly the Avs are playing like crap and there isn't a lot of good stuff to report about them. Dater really misses the mark (as he usually does), however, when he mentions Budaj. These two sentences were the only mentions the Avs' backup goalie (starting his second consecutive game due to Anderson's abscence) received:

It was a soft goal, yes, one that Budaj should have stopped.

and later, as he mentioned the few Avs players who had good games:

 The Avs got a terrific game from Kevin Porter (one goal, one assist), and Matt Hunwick is starting to look like a real player again. But overall, there just wasn't enough sustained offensive pressure, too many turnovers and no clutch goaltending.

This is a prime example of one of Dater's most glaring faults as a reporter: he allows his personal feelings towards a player or a team into his writing. Journalism -- even sports journalism -- should strive to be devoid of bias, but Dater seems to have skipped that semester of journalism school. Peter Budaj was very sharp all game long, and at one point in the third period, when the Avs had been outshot by a 3-1 ratio but still led the game, one could argue that Budaj was the only reason they were in that position at all. But Dater's active dislike of Budaj not only prevents him from mentioning his solid game, but causes him to go out of his way to say something negative about Boods.

The fourth goal was definitely one that Budaj would like to have back, because it looked like he could see it pretty much the entire way and it kind of fluttered in (possibly deflected mid-way) under his pads... but Dater will describe ANY goal that wasn't highlight-quality as "soft," as long as it's Budaj he's talking about. The goal was not soft, it just beat him. It does happen... and when Budaj was the one and only reason they had a chance to win that game in the first place, he should have at least got some recognition for it. But Dater hates Budaj, and would rather be caught dead than say something positive about him.

Budaj has had four games in a row now where he has been very, very good. He is playing better as a backup than Anderson is playing as a starter right now... but the only mention he gets in this article is blame for a "soft" goal that really wasn't, and a ludicrous claim that the Avs didn't have enough "clutch goaltending" in the game, despite the fact that without clutch goaltending they probably would have lost 8-3. 

Dater closes with a brief Forsberg update. Apparently, the notion that Forsberg is the best guy on the ice lasted about one game. Forsberg looked amazing about 15% of the time, and somewhere between "mediocre" and "pretty bad" the remainder, and to Dater's credit he takes his lips off the man's butt long enough to write that Forsberg looked tired and took a couple penalties.

Grade: D+  A failed attempt at a clever introduction leads to a boilerplate recap of the game. Would have been unmemorable if not for providing yet another example of Dater's bias against Peter Budaj. The sad thing is that there are people out there who believe that Budaj is an awful goalie because Dater says so... but by continuing to go out of his way to rag on the guy, he demonstrates that he doesn't know enough about either goaltending or reporting to be considered a reliable source on the matter.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

All Things Avs blog: Dater goes mental on officials for helping Jackets bully poor Forsberg

This is Dater's postgame thoughts from the Avs/Blue Jackets game, which Columbus won 3-1. It is pretty standard Dater whining, sky-is-falling, these guys are pathetic/they have no heart stuff, until this point:

Referee Stephen Walkom didn’t dignify the proceedings tonight. I try to stay away from analyzing the referees, but they do a job just like any other guy out there and deserve to a look once in a while. Walkom let a few blatant calls go tonight, some involving Forsberg. Overrated, overpaid Sammi Pahlsson pulled his usual clutch and grab, hit’em-after-the-whistle routine once tonight on Forsberg, and old-school, time-has-passed-him-by Walkom just swallowed his whistle and let Forsberg get wrestled to the ground behind the play.

Guys like Walkom should do the hockey world a favor and retire, because he doesn’t know anything about today’s faster game and how to call it. He seems to want every game to go back to the clutch-and-grab disaster it was prior to the last lockout, and that ain’t the way it’s done any more Steve.

Better to take that league pension and go back to the backwaters of the sport you so clearly miss. Nobody else in the modern world does. But one of Walkom’s good ole Canadian boys, Rick Nash, got looked at crossways by American Paul Stastny in the second period tonight and Walkom blew his whistle and administered a slashing penalty – a slashing penalty, on a guy whose stick never actually touched Nash? Yessir, two minutes in the sin bin for Stats, while more rodeo hockey could ensue on guys like Forsberg without consequence.

So, first star tonight to Stephen Walkom, for giving us all a nice circa 1998 game out there. Well done, NHL marketers.

Where to start with this? Well, first of all, if you didn't see the game, it was actually called fairly even. The Jackets had two power plays, and the Avs had one. That's not saying it was called well, but it was called the same for both teams, and in hockey that's about as much as you can ask for. The Stastny call he mentions was not a great call considering the things that were not called, but neither was it as innocent as Dater makes it out to be. As in ANY hockey game, there were missed calls, but the officiating didn't figure into this game at all.

Dater seems to not have noticed that Forsberg pretty much grabbed Pahlsson by the back of the neck and pulled him to the ice; the way he remembers it, Forsberg was "wrestled to the ground behind the play." In fact, if this game had been called the way Dater apparently wants to see it called, Forsberg would have probably taken at least as many penalties as he drew... he played the same sort of game he always did, which frankly I was happy to see. Forsberg gives as good as he gets, and that apparently hasn't changed, floppy ankles and all.

Am I saying that criticisms of the officiating are improper in a newspaper setting? Not at all... but there is a professional way to go about it, and there's a rabid homer fanboy way to go about it. That Dater chose the latter is the issue here.

There was zero professionalism in this entry... it starts with a Dater standard: "I usually don't (blank), but..." and then he goes on to do exactly what he says he never does. If also featured Dater's typically snotty tone, a real journalism no-no. It included personal insults -- including, incredibly, a charge of xenophobia -- directed at Walkom (apparently Dater does not realize that there were two refs on the ice allowing Forsberg to get mugged, as Walkom gets 100% of his wrath here). He threw in an unnecessary sideswipe at Pahlsson, sarcastically gave the officiating the first star of the game, and he topped it off by donning his tinfoil helmet to assert that the NHL has put crooked officials in place, apparently in an effort to ensure that the league will thrive by allowing skilled, star players to be easily neutralized?

I mean, seriously... how cranky is Dater on this one? So the refs missed a couple calls. Did it really warrant 250 bile-filled words for a game between two second-division teams? But he really went for broke here, and I'm not sure why, because as I said earlier, the officiating had no bearing on this game. The difference here, I think, is that Saint Peter was on the ice, and therefore any and every missed call involving Forsberg is a Crime Against Hockey! Dater ultimately comes across here as the unabashed Forsberg fanboy he really is.

The rest of the entry reverts to the tone it started with: no-insight, cliche comments like "I question [Stastny's] fire to win," and "Where is the emotion out there?" Basically, this blog entry is an insight into nothing more than all the things Dater was cranky about before going to bed last night. I suppose there is a place for that in the blogosphere, but I fail to see how it fits in with professional newspaper coverage of the Colorado Avalanche.

Grade:This useless yet oddly entertaining blog entry includes a classic Dater rant, reminiscent of the anti-ESPN rant from a few years back. Too bad that he didn't put nearly as much thought into this as he did then... the ESPN rant was silly, but at least there was an actual argument in there somewhere if you took the time to peel away the junior-high taunts and name-calling. This is just frustration... if the team is frustrated, report it. I don't really care, however, if Dater is frustrated.

Avs/Jackets Recap

An article on the Avs' 3-1 loss to the Blue Jackets. Aside from the to-be-expected Forsberg love-fest in his first game back with the Avalanche (i.e., "it seemed like the Avs' only truly dangerous scoring moments came when he was on the ice," and "...Forsberg — alone with the puck near the top of the left circle, sent a cross-ice pass to a cutting Kevin Shattenkirk that was as good as any Elway-to-McCaffrey timing pattern"), Dater basically offers a straight-up recap here. Although Peter Budaj had a very solid game, Dater only mentions him in passing... had Anderson played that well, he'd likely have had an entire paragraph about it, but seeing as how Dater pretty much ignored Budaj's play one way or the other, further comments on Dater's Budajhate will have to wait for another day. I doubt it will take too long.

With the already noted exception of the Forsberg Goggles being firmly in place (although even Forsberg received a soft chiding for being "...a little late getting back on defense prior to Nash's shot and goal"), Dater sticks to facts here, and allows quotes from Avs players and coaches to set the tone of the article.

Frankly, Forsberg did look pretty good with the puck on his stick, but a more thorough coverage may have also noted how slow he was on his feet, and how easy it was for BJ defenders to push him around, hold him against the boards, etc.. As far as Forsberg being the "best player on the ice," I don't know if I agree with that. The Avs played another decent game, particularly defensively (relatively speaking, of course), but couldn't get any really solid scoring chances. I still think they are on the right track, and will start winning some games soon, perhaps tonight.

Grade: B+ Some Forsberg fellating for sure, but even in proper journalism that is allowable considering the circumstances, the audience, and the build-up to his return. Generally informative, balanced, and light on the editorializing.

All Things Avs blog: Dater tells his readers to "Grow Up." Readers take advice, switch to hockey coverage written by adults.

After the obligatory Video Of Forsberg Practicing, and some quick (and as it turns out, accurate) speculation that Forsberg would play against Columbus and that Foote would miss yet another Jackets home game with an injury, Dater goes back to the well to respond to the comments posted after his previous blog entry regarding Anderson leaving the team for personal reasons. 

Yes I know what it is, but am not going to report it because, geez, it’s personal. Not everybody has to know every little thing in this world. People speculating on this blog that it’s for this reason or that reason, or making up spurious accusations what it might be, I have two words to say:
Grow up. 

It’s not a big deal, and he’ll be back soon. Making up stuff about what might be wrong with him is going to eventually lead me down the path of blocking all commenters. I know it’s just a couple bad apples kind of thing, but knock it off.

It seems that Dater knows he has once again crosses the loosely-drawn but critically important line between reporter and fan. This time, it caused some trouble, and he handled it poorly. If Dater was really interested in the concept of the public "not knowing every little thing in this world," one would think he'd realize that this includes the public not really needing to know that Dater knows what's going on but is nobly refusing to report it.

I read a lot of those comments about Anderson, and many of them were indeed ridiculous (he's hurt, he's about to be traded, he has a drug problem, etc.). But Dater should realize that if he taunts people with the "I know something you don't know" childishness, people will often react in kind... and when they do, the smart thing is to not dignify them with a response. Dater, though, does the opposite: he keeps the ball rolling, because it gives him another opportunity to explain that he does, in fact, know what's going on, and you do not. His message to his readers who commented on something that he himself commented on first: "Grow up." If ever somebody should listen to his own advice, it's Dater here.

Perhaps the most troubling about this blog entry is that there were a handful of people, including myself, who called him on this one. I believe I wrote something to the effect of, "The next time you have a secret that you don't want anybody to know about, try this: Don't tell anybody that you know a secret." That comment, along with all other comments critical of Dater, were deleted from the comments section.

Now, I do not know if Dater himself deleted those comments, or if it was somebody else at the Post. But, with Dater having already threatened in that very blog entry that he might resort to blocking commenters, it doesn't look good. The question of ethics on a discussion board is a murky one, but generally speaking, unless a comment is harassing somebody, or using threatening or vulgar speech, it is allowed. The Post has every right to control their comment section the way they see fit, and I'm not going to call it "censorship," but it's certainly telling that comments questioning Dater's professionalism or ethics (journalistic ethics, that is) were removed.

Grade: D Another video of Forsberg skating, which are always nice to see. I do appreciate Dater's efforts putting stuff like this on the blog, you can't really get it anywhere else. But the gear change to rehash the Anderson thing, putting all the blame on the people who really just followed his gossipy lead, and the deletion of comments critical of Dater's handling of the situation, drags this effort down quickly.

All Things Avs blog: Dater has a secret! He will not tell you his secret, so don't ask him to reveal his secret! It's Dater's little secret and nobody will know!

In this blog entry, Dater gets off to a good, informative start with the first paragraph: Anderson leaving the team for personal reasons, Grahame and Holos called up. This sort of quickie insider info is exactly the way a blog like this should be used. High five, Dater!

But then, things go downhill as Dater adopts his "I know something you don't know" voice, and steps across the line separating reporter and gossip columist:

I’m not going to speculate the reason why Anderson is taking a leave, even though I believe I have an idea. He’s not hurt and I believe this is only going to be a day-to-day thing. He wasn’t going to start tomorrow anyway. So let’s not make a big deal of it.

Even pro athletes deserve a little privacy. And like I said, I’m not positive what it is, so for now that’s the reason he’s gone – personal.

As soon as you say something like "I'm not even going to speculate," you've just sort of opened the door to speculation, and when you say "let's not make a big deal of it," you're coaxing a certain type of person to make a big deal of it. Reporting that Anderson had left the team for personal reasons and leaving it at that would have summed it up nicely, thank you very much... but Dater, in his eagerness to demonstrate that he has both Insider Information and that he respects people's privacy, feels the need to re-state it so that he, rather than Anderson or the team, is the focus.

Grade: C- A good start, kinda lousy finish. Some silly comments about Anderson's absence resulted from this entry, which could have largely been avoided with an objective and professional reporting of it in the first place.