Daniel Wagner Responds to Ritch Winter’s Response

At the beginning of the month, I wrote a post regarding the source of the complaints over Cody Hodgson’s ice time. In it, I advanced the theory that the source may well be Ritch Winter, Hodgson’s agent, who may have spoken to Tony Gallagher, who then ran with the comments on the radio and in The Province. It was speculative, certainly, but I felt there was enough circumstantial evidence to ask the question.

What I didn’t expect was for Ritch Winter himself to write a 6400 word blog post a month later in response.

Mr. Winter did not take kindly to my conjecture and used it as a springboard for discussing the issues with hockey journalism as a whole. In the process, he touched on Ayn Rand, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, President Obama, the Tea Party, and Moneyball. It’s a long read, but an interesting one.

To be honest, he makes a very good point about me and the article I wrote. Unfortunately, he then proceeds to miss that point.

Winter calls my post, “to put it mildly, a piece of work” and “completely devoid of fact.” While I would contest the latter accusation, I am somewhat complimented by the first, as my writing is rarely incendiary enough to warrant such a response. So let’s get at the meat of Winter’s complaint:

Now, I am busy. Hockey is a very busy business. As all of you see on Twitter, on a regular basis I find myself in the four corners of North America. … I have been going hard. Playing and working 24/7. Barely having time to eat, sleep and breathe, but for some unknown reason Wagner, as he indicated in the Hodgson article referred to above, thought I had enough time on my hands recently to somehow manipulate the Vancouver media and create all the sports talk radio banter (perhaps by calling fans at home individually – it is not clear). Or maybe by showing Tony Gallagher the pictures I have of him at that crime scene? I guess?

The suggestions are, of course, ridiculous. And the article above is no less so for this reason. But why? Deadlines? Lazy? I don’t know. You decide. I just know that the whole premise for the story was inaccurate and, everything written in it, not true. And Wagner never took the time to call the parties involved and see if that was the case. He never called our office at all. What bothers me most is the very likely possibility this article will be repeated around water coolers all over the place.

Wagner speculates about the reason for the Vancouver fan and media’s attention to Cody Hodgson’s ice time when he states: “The most likely candidate is Winter, particularly when you consider Gallagher’s comments near the end that Hodgson’s agency group has been ‘way more than patient.’”

In fact, every time Tony and I speak I am surprised at how much angst Cody’s ice-time is causing him. In fact, my reaction to his concerns was all Tony was talking about. Nothing more. Nothing less. But, Wagner never called Tony or me to check on that and went on to make a mountain out of a bag of pucks.

Many of the staff at the Vancouver Sun have my number. They know how to reach me. Wagner knows how to find my number. And everyone knows I am accessible to the media. Maybe too much so historically. Instead of calling me, Wagner builds his article off of a theory. A theory I knew nothing about and which could not be true without that being the case. And all of this without calling me. Why? No one knows. I don’t. He never called.

Ouch. I’m more than willing to accept blame when I am at fault, and he is absolutely right that I should have attempted to contact him. I wrote an article based on a theory, one that I still believe has a logical basis, but I did not attempt to confirm any of the particulars with him. I should have and I will hopefully be able to rectify that soon.

The reason why I did not contact him had nothing to do with laziness or deadlines; instead, I was acting as bloggers normally do. Bloggers frequently collate a bunch of information into a coherent whole and draw a conclusion or present a theory based on that information. Bloggers seldom attempt to contact those involved as such an attempt would, in most cases, be entirely fruitless.

The issue is that PITB is on an odd precipice: we are a blog associated with a major newspaper. I actually have a press pass, though I have only been able to use it once, prior to this season’s prospects camp. I have a wealth of resources at my fingertips that I never use, simply because I’m not used to having them.

I did not attempt to contact Ritch Winter because it did not even occur to me that he would speak to me. I e-mailed a player agent once, identifying myself as a writer for the Vancouver Sun, and received no response. That’s the furthest I’ve gone, simply because I don’t expect to get a response because I still see myself as a blogger.

Let’s face it, I am a blogger. Of sorts. Sometimes my writing does find its way into the newspaper, but I mainly write for an online audience.

The article in question was found exclusively on Pass it to Bulis. His point about contacting him is well taken, and I hope to contact him sometime this week, but he misses that point by making the same mistake.

Recently, in the Vancouver Sun, Daniel Wagner wrote about Cody Hodgson’s ice time. The story was an amazing example of the type of rapid deterioration of sport journalism into what we are seeing more of these days in sports reporting. Because, not only did Wagner base a lot of the piece he wrote on fiction, he didn’t even try to hide that.

Jut as I wrote my post based on a theory (which he calls a fiction), he based his entire post on a theory that my post was in the Vancouver Sun and that I am a reporter. He uses it to attack what he sees as the issues in sports journalism. He even puts my name to one of the main issues he sees in the media.

Here is what he calls the “Wagner Effect”:

In addition to the horrendous additional pressures the internet and the related decline of the print media have caused, reporters are human. Reporters hang out ever day with coaches, GMs, Presidents and players. They hear the traditional mantras spewed forth by tradition bound NHL types (not all are tradition bound, but most) and are affected by it. They cannot help it. It’s the environment they live in. Because of the intuitive bias these types of exposures create, we have to try and read through what is written with this in mind. Reporters cannot be objective. Either because they don’t realize the effect their environment has on them or because they don’t care to understand that. What I will call the “Wagner Effect” from now on. The latter, to the extent that it is the case, is in large part because they need the men in NHL executive suites and dressing rooms to provide them with the material they rely on to make a living.

In that paragraph, rather than the reporter, I’m the “horrendous additional pressures.” I don’t “hang out every day with coaches, GMs, Presidents, and players.” I hang out every day with my wife and two-month old son in our basement suite. That’s right, I’m one of those bloggers that actually lives in a basement.

The point is that I don’t rely on having access to those sources to make a living. I’m actually making a living (-ish) by blogging without access; I do have access to that access and hope to take advantage of it to improve the quality of my work, but I’m not dependent on it. The creation of the bias that he puts to my name to doesn’t actually apply to me.

He later uses Moneyball to talk about how traditional thought around sports was challenged by a new way of thinking. Thing is, in that analogy, I’m Moneyball. The hockey blogosphere has constantly challenged traditional narratives and I have played a (very) small role in that. I won’t claim that I am as talented a writer as Michael Lewis or that I have the same degree of influence, but we share a similar project.

While I certainly aspire to become a journalist, I am not one now. That said, if bloggers wish to be treated with respect and be taken seriously, they should attempt to hold themselves to high standards. That is why I should have attempted to contact Winter and will attempt to do so in the future. But using my article to criticize journalists shows that Winter is unaware that my post was not a newspaper article written by a reporter with the kind of access he describes.

Ironically, he could have known all of this had he contacted me before writing his post.

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76 comments

  1. peanutflower
    January 31, 2012

    Well written unlike, although you say differently, that 6400-word diatribe by Winter. Was it really that long? My brain disengaged about 2500 words I think. I automatically tune out when too much name dropping of living or dead occurs. But you are right, Daniel, you and PITB are in a funny sort of position. PITB is most certainly on the precipe between journalism and blogging. You have a chance to do something unique I think, but what that is I’m not exactly sure :) PITB is being noted more and more often by “respected” journalists on “respected” TV and radio shows and in “respected” newspapers and magazines, but it seems the lines are really getting blurred between blogging and journalism. (The quotes were intended there, BTW). Because of your association with the Vancouver Sun you are right in saying that most rebutters take only a cursory glance, see that and then assume PITB is in fact the Vancouver Sun. In end end, I guess it’s your — all of you — decision to make as to which way you go. I must speak, mustn’t I — anyone back me up on this — for quite a few readers who read PITB because it is a blog and because we know we’ll get something different and interesting — biased or not, fiction or not. I don’t care. I’m well able to separate fiction from fact I think (not like some people…) . Good work on both pissing Winter off and in this blog.

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  2. peanutflower
    January 31, 2012

    OMG. I hate spelling mistakes. precipice. not precipe. dang. That just ruins the whole comment…

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  3. John in Marpole
    January 31, 2012

    Seems to me that Winter’s response is a bit over the top. The hyperbole in the part about how he works 24/7 with no time to breathe comes across to me as bordering on hysteria.

    The fact that he had the time to write a 6,400 blog response disproves his claim of having no time to himself while he – and if you’re reading this Rich, I’m speculating here – saves the hockey world from itself and rescues puppies from floods simultaneously.

    Your original blog post was well thought out, and logically presented. Your response is even better. I suspect that should you get in touch with Winter, you’ll find him just as arrogant in person as his blog post suggests he is.

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  4. Chicky
    January 31, 2012

    Two things:

    1) Methinks Winter doth protest too much… ahem. Ergo, I think you exposed him. LOL
    2) You’re FAMOUS! I now know someone locally famous and who has an “effect” all his own. It’s like the third coming of Jesus… but not 15 years in the making!

    This is why I like blogs like this vs the dribble someone’s agent feeds the media.

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  5. Mo
    January 31, 2012

    I’m backing up Peanutflower in the desire for PITB to continue as you always have. I love your uniqueness. I think the minute you start contacting “coaches, GMs, Presidents and players” (and you can add “agents” to that list) you cross the line into mainstream media, and become one of the multitude that we complain about. Please guys, stay gold.

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    • Parker
      January 31, 2012

      A reference to “The Outsiders”?? Love it!

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  6. Jason
    January 31, 2012

    Wow, a well reasoned and fair response, with some thought-provoking questions. I don’t ever see that in traditional media. Maybe if you used your resources, you’d be able to produce something superior on this blog.

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  7. anon
    January 31, 2012

    Wagner, you gotta be shitting me. You dragged this guy’s name through the mud by way of a few cursory Google searches and didn’t even use a hint of comedy or sarcasm (which I thought were supposed to be PITB staples.) You tried playing the role of real journalist, screwed it up, got called on it. End of story.

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    • ACMESalesRep
      January 31, 2012

      Quick poll: “anon” is:

      a) Ritch Winter
      b) Ritch Winter’s mom

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    • FrancoL
      January 31, 2012

      Wagner presented a theory, which can be considered conjecture or an uproven assumption. He did not state explicitly that Winter was responsible for Tony Gallagher’s position on CoHo’s ice time. Moreover, Wagner shared his opinions and reflections in a blog, not an online report of unquestionable facts. He did attempt to deceive by “playing the role of [a] real journalist”. Certainly, he is responsbile for his words, but readers are equally responsible for considering the context in which they are written (i.e. a personal journal posted online) and questioning its face value. Nonetheless, Wagner acknowledged his faults. I don’t know of many writers who would do the same.

      Moreover, I would dare say that Winter muddied himself with his own words by placing all blame for poor journalism on Wagner alone. To comment against conjecture with even greater hyperbole is clearly beyond reason.

      I will never understand why commentors insist on writing “End of story” in their posts, as if they have an absolute, god-like power to end all discussion.

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      • anon
        January 31, 2012

        End of story = just admitting you screwed up.

        Not end of story = additional tap-dance to make yourself feel better.

        What Winter should’ve done is accuse PITB of being an agent of God-fearing conservatives, because Wagner grew up in a Mennonite church in the Bible Belt. Hey, no harm no foul because it’s just a blog, right?

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        • Harrison Mooney
          January 31, 2012

          Yikes. Grow up.

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        • Bugsy
          January 31, 2012

          God? Is that you???

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        • FrancoL
          January 31, 2012

          Good grief. I hope you’re never told “end of story” when someone admits a mistake to you (can you imagine a doc. saying that to a patient?). I certainly hope you don’t teach that to others. Wagner is responsible for his words, as much as you are responsible for yours. This much Wagner has admitted. End of story (was that used properly?). Perhaps that is something you need to consider as well, Mr./Mrs./Ms. don’t-like-tap-dancing.

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        • Tom
          February 1, 2012

          Hello left field.

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  8. J21
    January 31, 2012

    There is an error in your statement here: “In the process, he touched on Ayn Rand, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, President Obama, the Tea Party, and Moneyball. It’s a long read, but an interesting one.

    It was most definitely not interesting.

    Anyway, here’s what I wrote on your Score blog:

    “You were very up-front in your posting that you were simply floating a theory based on the inferences that you were making from Gallagher’s column. You never claimed to have investigated or that it was a “report” of any sort. Winter’s rambling, unfocused Masters thesis (posted about a month after the item in question) was therefore a passionate attack on a giant man of straw. There was nothing wrong with your PITB posting. And had you asked him, it’s not as though he would have owned up to being the source.”

    As you say yourself, what good would calling Winter have done? “Hi Ritch-with-a-T, this is the seventh message I’ve left for you… I’m still curious whether you are the one giving Gallagher the notion of your blue-chip client’s discontent. Can you confirm this so I can write about it to everyone? Thanks as always!”

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    • tom selleck's moustache
      January 31, 2012

      “As you say yourself, what good would calling Winter have done? ”

      That’s what I was thinking. A phone call would have achieved nothing as it would be all likely that Winter would have simply denied it, and Gallagher isn’t going to give up a source, if he actually had one. So I think it’s rather disingenuous for Winter to claim that Wagner could/should have called him or Gallagher when he knows full well that it wouldn’t have changes things one iota.

      It’s interesting to see the comments being presented on blogging vs journalism and I have to echo the sentiments to not change PITB’s style or content. Being the outsiders looking in, I think, leads to much more interesting content as they are free from the pressures to conform to what the usual stakeholders would want them to right and, instead, really write what they want and be true to themselves. There are limitations, of course, but it ultimately makes for such better reading, IMO.

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  9. Winsy
    January 31, 2012

    Touché! What I like about Bloggers vs Reporters, especially PITB, is that it IS informal and you are approachable and witty. You are simply writing what you think. You also have better grammar.

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  10. bergberg
    January 31, 2012

    “Ironically, he could have known all of this had he contacted me before writing his post.”

    Oh no you didn’t! (complete with a triple snap)

    Seriously though, this is a blog written all in good fun. Some people just need to lighten up.

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  11. VANSEA
    January 31, 2012

    A couple of points:
    1. Winter does admit to discussing Hodgson’s icetime with Gallagher.
    2. The implication from reading Winter’s blog post (which was a bit self congratulatory and pompous, but that’s just me) and the original PITB article seems to me to indicate that Winter accepts the fact that Gallagher based at least some of his comments on their discussion and Winter’s reaction.
    It would be one thing for Winter to tell Gallagher: “Heck Yeah, we are happy with the ice time and the situations that Cody gets put out on since the situations he goes into enable him to succeed and giving him more might in fact hurt his numbers. A little more ice time is always good, but we’ve got a little bit of time before his next contract so we can improve his faceoffs and deficiencies so that he can play in all situations, but for now we are happy with the fact he is being put in a situation to succeed and in fact taking advantage of the opportunity”. So while it might not be full manipulation of media, he wants to control spin and if it “helps” his client, it would behoove him to do so.

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  12. sarah
    January 31, 2012

    So, first of all, I googled “The Wagner Effect.” It already exists. “The Wagner effect says that circulation rises slowly to its steady-state due to viscosity when an inclined wing is accelerated from rest.” [Wikipedia - Insect Flight page]. Sorry to break that to you.

    Honestly, I don’t understand why Winters would care. I understand why he would care on a personal level; no one likes to read anything less that positive about themselves on the internet. Especially something that is not true, presuming that he in fact did not start the Cody Hodgson icetime rumour.

    As I see it, PITB and Winters really do occupy two separate spheres. Winters actually has some influence on the Canucks and actually matters to the organization and the team. PITB does not. I don’t say that to belittle you guys; I think you’re great. I just think that is the nature of journalism, especially online journalism. You exist to comment on the Canucks and other hockey-related matters and your comments shouldn’t impact the team. You should impact your readership, which obviously would include the fanbase, but not the organization. If people associated with the team [and that includes Winters] start taking advice from bloggers/caring about what bloggers say, that seems to me to be a problem. Once again, not taking anything away from you guys. If anything, I think it’s important for the two to be separate. There’s something refreshing about a truly independent media, and blogs offer that [not just in hockey]

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    • sarah
      January 31, 2012

      Sorry, the second paragraph should start “I don’t understand why Winters would care on a professional level’

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  13. Mark in Steveston
    January 31, 2012

    I think the big challenge for the PITB writers is this: how to maintain your sense of humour (particularly when skewering the ridiculous aspects of sports), and occasional irreverence towards the mainstream media, while trying to meet the ethical responsibilities of “journalism”. I think this is a very difficult tightrope to walk, even for experienced members of the MM. A great example of someone who pulls it off, IMO, is Gregg Easterbrook of espn.com’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Contrast him with Peter King of si.com’s MMQB, who is all business.

    As a regular reader, I would actually prefer that PITB lean more towards the “insightful, yet somewhat irreverent blog”, rather than “serious journalism”. Leave that to the humourless types (and there are plenty). It seems to me that RW takes himself a bit seriously — though he has a legit comment about not being called by you, the slight hardly warrants a 6400-word response. As for Skeletor himself, I find his comments bordering on desperate reaching, as he tries to remain relevant in this market. I always find myself disappointed when he appears on the RSN intermission hot-stoves, to the extent that I start channel surfing when he’s there.

    As for PITB, keep up the great work!

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  14. J37
    January 31, 2012

    Gosh.Imagine if Chris Higgins were his client and he found out about your zombie infection theory. That warrant a 13 000 word blog post from Winter!

    In all seriousness, I agree with many of the others who have commented, I love reading this blog because it is unique and different from anything that exists out there. You guys can do irreverent humour but you can also write reasoned and balanced posts. And your original post was the latter, though I do look forward to reading the arrogant and condescending remarks that will undoubtedly spew from Winter’s mouth when you do interview him.

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  15. Bill Barilko
    January 31, 2012

    Erm, since when is a blogger a journalist? That’s the point. No offence Mr. Wag – in fact it’s a compliment – bloggers are there to aggregate content and then synthesize that content into opinions, which you have done. If you’re a journalist, you *create* that content, which is not your express intent.

    Hmm.

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  16. J37
    January 31, 2012

    * that would warrant

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  17. VANSEA
    January 31, 2012

    I think it is also a little disingenuous to say that you have no influence. While you may not have as much influence as RW or TG, you are attempting to present information and insights about issues that you think are relevant and key to the team. Bulies should be attempting to inform other Canuck fans about Malhotra vs Hodgson, Hodgson Ice-time and Situational deployment, and other things that might not help RW client get a bigger contract. I’d be happy if you got more influence than TG.

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  18. PeeSeeGee
    January 31, 2012

    Every blog I read now has a post about this. That’s a lot of press. You’re going to be in trouble if you crash the Vancouver Sun servers!

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    • Spencer
      January 31, 2012

      That only happens with Naked Kesler….oh shoot, I said it. Now the servers will crash.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        January 31, 2012

        Noooooooo

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      • Chicky
        January 31, 2012

        Don’t you mean Higgins’ Abs? *fans self*

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        • sarah
          January 31, 2012

          Four for you Chicky! You go Chicky!

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  19. nee
    January 31, 2012

    Well put Wagner. I do think Winter was unfair to you in his article, but at the same time his complaints do lead to an interesting thought: what space do blogs inhabit in media, and what standards should they adhere to? Blogs are a bit of a grey area, as they don’t typically require interviews/extensive sourcing, but as they grow in influence (being attached to a newspaper for example) how does that change the responsibility of the blog?

    Obviously, Winter completely missed the point here in calling you a journalist, but it does raise some interesting questions.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 31, 2012

      It’s actually a really interesting debate. We’re hoping to look into it a little further in the future.

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  20. Mike
    January 31, 2012

    Hey Daniel. Here is something I would find fascinating. Maybe you can blog it later. Keep track of the rumours re trades; player(s) and teams involved and, if possible, the source (i.e. Patrice Brisbois re Perry to van.) After the trade dealine report on which of the players that were rumoured to be moved were actually moved and if so were they moved to teams that were rumoured to be interested. It would be fascinating to know the accuracy of these rumours we all spend so much time thinking (fanatsizing) about.

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  21. Rituro
    January 31, 2012

    Question for Daniel: Ritch refers to you more than once as being from the Vancouver Sun. I rankle a little bit at that association since, to me, you and Harrison are PITB founders/writers first, Sun contributors second. How would you describe yourself? Since you say you have a press pass, do you consider yourself to be a blogger who freelances for the Sun or a Sun employee who writes a blog?

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  22. Matt
    January 31, 2012

    There’s something people who talk about “ethical responsibilities of journalism” are missing here -Daniel was always clear that he was speculating. If he’d written that he had sources who confirmed the Hodgson rumours came from Winters, when he didn’t have those sources or he knew those sources were unreliable, he’d be doing something unethical. However, he was clear that he was speculating based on what had been said about the issue in public. He’s under no obligation to run his musings past Winters, and if he had and Winters had denied them all, he would have been perfectly justified in running the same piece, simply appending “Winters denies that he is the source of these rumours” to the end of piece.

    If you think journalists are restricted to being a cypher for “objective fact”, or that writers aren’t allowed to speculate in public, you don’t understand these professions.

    And Winter is a pretentious, self-righteous blow-hard.

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  23. The Bookie
    January 31, 2012

    I thought the Wagner Effect was simply the use of leitmotif in classic opera?

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    • Rituro
      January 31, 2012

      Well played. +1.

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  24. Eric Blacha
    January 31, 2012

    The amount of anger he presents about the article is sort-of crazy to me. I just looked at the old article of yours, and you always said suggest that it’s him, and is a theory; with examples. Never once said definitively was him.

    If he can’t accept that someone has theories, he should go back to thinking the world is flat.

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  25. JS Topher
    January 31, 2012

    Dear PiTB,
    I love you as you are. Stay Cool. Don’t ever change. (too much)
    Sincerely,
    JS Topher. A Bulie from the beginning.

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  26. TimVan
    January 31, 2012

    Claiming to be very busy and having time to write a 6400 word essay are mutually exclusive.

    I’m constantly amazed by PITBs bloggers’ abilities to meld New Age statistics (Corsi, et al) with perspicacious observation.

    The bottom line? Don’t go changin’. I actually feel like I know a little more how the “science” of managing a team works and how those doing it (AV and MG) really think.

    The more I read PITB the more I find myself cringing whenever I hear Tony G or Kuzma speak. That they get called journalists and you don’t is ridiculous.

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  27. grumpiest
    January 31, 2012

    I love you guys.

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  28. Amor de Cosmos
    January 31, 2012

    Blogs — or at least well written and organised blogs like this one — shouldn’t be compared to journalism. Most journalists, particularly in a specialty area like hockey, are all about access, their living depends on it, and often IMHO compromises their objectivity. By necessity they’re close to players, execs, agents and everyone involved in the game — except the fan. Bloggers OTOH are just that. Fans who can write (if we’re lucky) but fans first. I really think inside access to hockey culture’s sanctum would not be a good thing for you guys, it comes with a price tag that’s too high. Stay on the on the outside looking in like the rest of us, it’s a comfortable important place to be.

    Unfortunately your connection with The Sun muddies the waters a bit. You clearly know who you are, where you’re speaking from and who to. But it’s apparent not everybody does. It’s tricky.

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    • jim
      January 31, 2012

      “Unfortunately your connection with The Sun muddies the waters a bit.” I think this whole thing is actually pretty interesting, for exactly this reason. Are the obligations of a blogger hired by a newspaper and different than a blogger hired by nobody? It’s an interesting question.

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      • jim
        January 31, 2012

        *any

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  29. akidd
    January 31, 2012

    interesting times and you’ve got a great seat for them daniel.

    take a deep breath is what i advise. in my brief brush with pro sports journalism i was not impressed. the world that winters refers to is much more controllable than the blogosphere. what i witnessed was a dour dressing roomwhere journalists tried to make eye contact with players and players tried to avoid it. everyone in the room was frowning and smiles and friendliness only appeared once the cameras turned on. pretty fake stuff by a lot of unhappy professionals. and very controllable because what a journalist wrote had a direct impact on all subsequent interactions with players.

    it was also a world that seemed very disconnected from the fans and readers. and not much fun either. the result is pretty bland too. recaps whether by willes, cole or whoever all read the same, more or less, and are filled with the same quotes and observations. very narrow stuff.

    your blogs are much more fun.

    i had no problem with your original piece. it was theory and stated as such. it made sense too and got me thinking about the world of agents and the business of the nhl. that winters went off on you is a very good thing. it’s because you pierced the protective bubble and there was nothing he could do about it as your livelihood isn’t reliant on player/agent/ gm/president participation. they can refuse to speak to you and it won’t make a shred of difference to your next blog. you can write whatever you please and there’s nothing they can do about it. pretty sweet if you ask me. in this case you were probably right about winters and his reaction is just desperation because the insiders are losing control of the message. again, very sweet.

    it’s a battle and you’re on the winning side. don’t change a thing. write what you believe and you’ll be fine. just remember to keep your feet on the ground.

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  30. jim
    January 31, 2012

    I think this issue is a bit tricky. There does seem to be a difference between being a ‘journalist’ and being a ‘blogger’, and I would agree that the professional obligations of the former are well beyond those of the latter (you could argue that there actually aren’t any for a blogger). However, Wagner’s blog is associated with a professional publication and I personally don’t like the idea of being able to insist that you do not have any journalistic obligations while enjoying the profile of being published by a newspaper. It’s just my opinion, I understand that Wagner sees himself as a blogger and feels he had some circumstantial evidence supporting his comment. I would also agree that Winter’s article was about 1000 miles over the top, I’m pretty sure I get what he’s saying without the historical references, thanks though. I guess my point is that if I was Winter, it would kind of bug me too to see somebody published by a newspaper attaching my name to comments without picking up the phone and asking me, or without having a source. I can understand why Winter might see it as lazy journalism rather than blogging, if only because of where the blog is published. It seems a bit weird to me that a columnist from the Sun could theoretically add ‘blog’ to the banner of their articles and therefore remove their obligations to support arguments with facts, or to make the effort to check facts. So I kinda see both sides here, I get why Wagner doesn’t think he can (or should) do some of the stuff a professional journalist would do, and I get why Winter doesn’t like seeing his name attached to things he didn’t say in the Sun. I think it’s also important to consider what it would be like, as Winter, to see someone in the Vancouver Sun implying that you are complaining to people about your client’s ice time, which might make people in the organization think that Hodgson is smiling and saying the ice-time is fine, then getting his agent to get the media riled up. I love the blog and I have always liked Wagner’s writing, but I have to admit, I understand why Winter finds the whole thing kind of bush league. Unfortunately for him, he wrote a short novel that was dripping with arrogance rather than simply saying, in a paragraph or two, that he wishes writers published by newspapers were all bound by the professional obligations of journalists, rather than letting ones with ‘blog’ on their banner ignore them. That seems like a fair point to me.

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    • peanutflower
      January 31, 2012

      I guess it might depend on whether or not PITB is actually published by the Sun. I don’t ever see the hardcopy so I don’t know if it appears in there — that would constitute publishing definitely, but as an digital-only blog, I’m not sure that that’s considered publishing. Is it? I’d be interested to know if the Sun approached PITB and if they did why? I’m assuming it was, like, hey, these guys are good and they appear to have more of an intelligent fan base (I’m guessing the editors or writers or whomever were tired of reading the comments by Cambo et al) and we need to have these PITB guys right now! In any case, it’s certainly a sign of the evolving times when we have to discuss whether a blog is in fact journalism. Not even two years ago it wouldn’t have even been a question.

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      • anymouse
        February 1, 2012

        Considering the website URL is: http://vansunsportsblogs.com

        and the banner reads “The Vancouver Sun” it would indicate that the Sun “publishes” the blog. Hardcopy is irrelevant.

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        • Chicky
          February 1, 2012

          Actually the website I type in is http://www.passittobulis.com
          It’s the banner that reads that it’s a Vancouver Sun Sports Blog… or am I going in through an old door?

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          • Harrison Mooney
            February 1, 2012

            Both doors work. Passittobulis.com redirects you to Vansunsportsblogs.com.

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            • Chicky
              February 1, 2012

              I’m gonna keep it old school then!

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          • anymouse
            February 1, 2012

            Some gals like both doors…

            The site is most certainly on vansunsportsblogs.com

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  31. SteveB
    January 31, 2012

    Hey guys, isn’t there a game against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight?
    Y’know, the Dragon that got slayed last year?
    Deep breath, everyone.

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  32. Nick
    January 31, 2012

    Does anyone really believe that Winter, if he actually did foment discontent about Coho’s ice time, come clean and admit it to some blogger if Wagner had contacted him before posting the story?

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  33. VANSEA
    January 31, 2012

    In your midseason report you state that it was directed by your superiors so they can direct your writing. Is there any editorial control the other way to censoring what you want to write about or the way you write it?

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  34. Nick
    January 31, 2012

    Tony G is constantly writing articles about some “theory” he has. Wagner is just catching more heat for this because he’s not part of the more traditional media group. He’s an easier target for Winter’s blow back.

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    • John in Marpole
      February 1, 2012

      Ding! Ding! Ding! Skeletor has offered up a dozen or two conspiracy theories over the past couple of years all based upon conjecture, reading the entrails of sea cucumbers, and spitting into the wind. As the VP of the Hockey Writers Association (can you believe that?), I would suggest that he should be the paragon of virtue when it comes to only writing that which has been researched to the nth degree and supported by concrete facts.

      Mind you, Gallagher supported Pratt after he was canned from the Province for the ultimate journalistic sinn of plagerism…

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  35. Nick
    January 31, 2012

    Note to the Vancouver Sun: A lot of us read the PITB blog, in part, because Mooney and Wager are less constrained by the influence of powerful hockey people, and don’t feel a lot of pressure to kowtow to blow-hards like player agents. PITB is one of the best parts of the Sun sports section.

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    • peanutflower
      January 31, 2012

      AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON”T INTERFERE WITH THAT. Thanks.

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    • stathead
      February 1, 2012

      “The most likely candidate is Winter” and breaking down the facts that point to this theory don’t exactly make Wagner a character assassin. Actually, if Winter wasn’t getting TG to boost CoHo and call for more ice time, he bloody well should have been. Why isn’t that man doing his job, on his own admission? He’s supposed to be CoHo’s agent.

      I can’t agree with Wagner about Winter’s blog post being interesting – that comment seems more like professional courtesy than anything. The greatest courtesy I can manage towards that one is to say nothing further about it. But reading it did make me remember to appreciate the quality of this clever, insightful blog. (Hey, can we get another goal breakdown soon? Maybe tonight’s OT winner? Or Kes? I learn loads from those.)

      And the Vancouver Sun people should note that even though Winter claims his main beef with Wagner is not having discussed his side of the story before publishing the blog…

      Winter himself failed to contact Wagner before publishing his own blog…

      so Winter clearly can’t feel THAT strongly about the issue.

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      • anymouse
        February 1, 2012

        Winters blog is not attached to a newpaper. The onus one a member of a news org is to fact check etc.

        Winters is strictly a personal blog. He would be equally quilty had his blog been under the banner of say The Edmonton Journal.

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        • stathead
          February 1, 2012

          ? But there were no incorrect or misreported facts in Wagner’s blog. His fact checking was fine. An extra line saying “When contacted for a comment, Winter a) didn’t reply or b) refused to comment or c) denied the allegation” would not have made the article any more accurate or even particularly added anything.

          Wagner made it clear throughout the article that he was a fan speculating. The Van Sun has linked itself to this fan speculating; they haven’t hired him as a reporter and told him to stop blogging. The newspapers have started affiliating with blogs in order to expand their contact with the public into this newish form of media and maintain their relevance, not to convert the bloggers into traditional news reporters.

          Since Winter was criticizing Wagner specifically for not contacting him, it’s hypocritical (no, actually, just amusing) that he didn’t follow his own standards.

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  36. Zach Morris
    January 31, 2012

    had to get in on this.
    I trust Pass It To Bulis more than other blog sites because I know where Messrs Mooney, Wagner, Drance and Madame Erza come from; I know they’re gonna be somewhat biased towards the Canucks.
    I frequent Pass It To Bulis for the analysis and the humor, both attributes the blog is known for.
    I know Pass It To Bulis doesn’t have a hidden agenda, they just wanna talk about hockey.

    The lack of crap is what keeps me coming back. Don’t worry about the haters.

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    • jimbob
      February 1, 2012

      well said!

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  37. Nee
    January 31, 2012

    Can I say that PITB has some pretty awesome commentors? 52 comments and every one has an opinion, expressed respectfully and with thought. No swamp creatures, or whatever it is that inhabits Puck Daddy’s comment section.

    This is a pretty great little corner of the internet.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 31, 2012

      True story. I’m really enjoying this debate and I’m not sure I know the right answer.

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  38. Shawn Hill
    January 31, 2012

    Very well done and well written reply.

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  39. tj
    January 31, 2012

    It is an interesting debate, not only re: blog v MSM ‘reporting’, but also re: accountability. If the Sun posted the original post as a ‘piece’ then maybe Winters has a valid argument, assuming he’s not a regular PiTB reader (which is his first failing). How are we to take his ‘essay’: as just an opinion? I’d say the two pieces prove the difference between a rant and a thoughtful response. I commend Daniel for bravely airing his reflections here. A lesser writer wouldn’t have.

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  40. Arnold Jamtart
    January 31, 2012

    Considering his love of Ayn Rand, I thought Winter’s response was nearly perfect tribute to her: long, tedious, pompous, and mostly wrong. Bonus points to him for his asides having asides.

    What he’s most wrong about, though, is his insinuation that what you do is lazy or even dishonest, and that it exemplifies the decline of sports journalism. That’s stupid, partly because we all know that the decline of everything can be traced back to the popularization of jazz music, and partly because a big part of the draw of PITB (at least for me) is its intellectual integrity. You can post pictures of Higgins’ midriff all day long, but if you stop providing rational and insightful analysis, regardless of whom it flatters or embarrasses, it stops being a compelling read. Sorry, Chris.

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    • stathead
      February 1, 2012

      Oh, I forgot to write in my earlier post: when will there be another picture of Chris Higgins’ midriff?

      Rational and insightful analysis to follow at your leisure.

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  41. Square Ball
    January 31, 2012

    Winter snapped back because Daniel’s theories were right.
    But don’t take this comment too seriously, it is just a theory.

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  42. FerenczyRAM
    February 1, 2012

    I knew it was a theory, and I didn’t even have to call you. I love you guys, don’t ever change. BTW, I still believe your theory was bang on. I think he helped prove it.

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  43. BedBeats
    February 1, 2012

    JP Berry should be very happy to know that he isnt on my evil agent radar any longer.

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    • BedBeats
      February 1, 2012

      And yes…i did e-mail the change of heart to both JP and Ritch.

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