Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grab Bag

Hello! Here are a few short (yeah, right) comments on recent Avalanche-related articles and blogs.

In this blog entry, Dater keeps it short, saying that the Avs had a "bag skate" on Monday. Dater included video of this skate... which to me didn't look all that punishing, but unlike just about everybody else who seems to follow this team, I'm not a hockey coach, so if that's the way Sacco runs his practices, fine by me. As I've said before, I like little videos like this included in the blog, I think it's a great use for the All Things Avs blog and I would like to see even more of these behind-the-scenes vids.

This blog entry led to one of the rarest-ever occurrences... you've got the unassisted triple play, full planetary alignment, cordial and productive Congressional sessions, and me jumping to Adrian Dater's defense on an ethics in  journalism issue. AD wrote this:

Sacco yelled at the boys a couple of times pretty loudly too. I don’t believe it reporting what was said in a situation like that, even though I heard a few of his sentences. It feels too much like eavesdropping and reporting private stuff. Let’s just say it was fairly loud and "constructively critical"

A few commenters called Dater out on this, arguing that as a reporter in a practice open to reporters, he should report everything that is said and done. However, a good reporter knows that there is a line between newsworthy items and gossip... and further knows that crossing that line damages not only his/her credibility as a reporter, but his ability to do the job at all. If Dater goes around writing about all sorts of stuff that was obviously intended to be private conversation, he won't be trusted by the coaches or the players, and his ability to do his job will be compromised.

So in this case, Dater did the right thing... although I do think that him essentially writing "I heard something interesting but I'm not going to report it" is a pretty dumb and useless thing to do. The "I know something you don't know" approach is not only juvenile, but it also leads to problems, as it did here. If you aren't going to report something, just don't report it, period.

This pic will bother you for the rest of the day.
This All Things Avs entry contains the post-game musings of AD after the Avs 3-0 win over Dallas on Nov 19th. It starts with Dater pointing out what he was trying to do with the title... if you read it sideways, it's sort of like a David Bowie character. On Dater's grading curve, this actually falls within the "almost clever" category, but it's still a bit of a groaner/eye roll.

In this blog entry, Dater opens by saying that he "hesitate[s] to use the words, "goalie controversy,"" which I find funny because people who hesitate to do something do not typically start out by doing that very thing. He then says that what the Avs really have now is a "goalie conversation," although he never makes it clear what he thinks the difference is. Anyway, Dater predicted (correctly, as it turned out) that after allowing one goal in two games, JS Giguere -- ostensibly the Avs' backup -- would get his third straight start, implying that this could be cause for alarm... er, discussion... for Varlamov.

By the time Dater gets into his point, though, he ends up making sense, and actually does seem to be more interested in conversation than controversy. More rarity! Dater loves to create controversy even where there isn't any (I often suppose that he sees himself as a disciple to the ultimate shit-stirring sports journalist, Woody Paige), and combining that with his often-knee-jerk and not entirely-informed reactions to goaltending issues, we at Grading Dater expected AD to jump into the "goalie controversy" idea with both feet and milk it for all it's worth. However, we are pleasantly surprised with this blog, as Dater continued a very encouraging trend of thoughtful and balanced reporting, as evidenced by the following:

I wouldn’t get too excited either way over this. 
The Avs sure played a good game in front of Jiggy tonight... If I’m Varlamov, I might whine a bit and say “How come they don’t play like that when I’m in there?”

Dater went on to give a completely cromulent assessment of the Avs' defensive play, concluding with the following:

Too often, the Avs become static when the D just dumps the puck up the glass and forwards have to chase it down a bouncing puck, often leading to disorganization and turnovers.

Dater so rarely includes things like this in his writing -- actual hockey gameplay analysis, Xs and Os stuff that sounds like hockey players and coaches talking rather than fans just yammering about something they appreciate but don't entirely understand -- that on those rare occasions he does include it, I kind of imagine him overhearing somebody else saying it in the pressbox or somewhere, and jotting it down real quick so he can include it later in his article. But whether Dater just copied from the smart kid's paper or he made this observation on his own, he's right... and it's nice to see it in print.

Denver hockey media is incredibly light on this sort of thing; the Altitude broadcast so rarely breaks down a play to explain what went right or wrong (perhaps because doing so might actually force them to be -- hold onto yourself, McNab -- critical of the Avs) that it's ultimately more of a promotional exercise than coverage of their games. Dater is often accused of being the polar opposite of Altitude: so incessantly negative that he's just as unobjective as they are, going out of his way to criticize them just as far as they go out of their way to heap praise.

What would guard him from that criticism would be the inclusion of just this sort of hockey knowledge and understanding. If he comes armed with critical yet well-informed analysis of the team, he'd automatically disarm so many of his critics... including me. Unfortunately, all too often Dater will just say "so-and-so was terrible tonight," and leave it at that. However, if we're viewing the last couple weeks' worth of blogs as steps in the right direction, this entry continues that trend.

Finally, a quick look at what Dater does best, which are the human-interest type stories:

In this piece, Dater gives his reader a look at what things are like away from the ice for recently-struggling Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. Nicely tying together a number of different angles, including life for a young European player in the NHL thousands of miles away from home, feelings of loneliness around the holidays, and the lingering effects of the tragic plane crash that took the lives of Varlamov's entire Russian professional team, Dater gives his reader an opportunity to know the man beneath all the goalie gear.

Right as Varlamov is facing some tough times between the pipes and hearing a lot of criticism for his play and for the trade that brought him here, Dater's reader gets to see him as a young man in an already-difficult and lonely situation, made who-can-imagine-how-much worse by the feelings of loss for so many teammates (as well as the "it could have been me" thoughts that must trouble him just as much) who died so young. Far from being a downer, though, this article presents a resilient young man who has the support of family, friends, and teammates. Very well done, and the timing couldn't have been much better.

No comments:

Post a Comment