On Stanley Cup Final coverage and the problem of bias

In the field of sports journalism, objectivity seems held in higher regard than anywhere else, perhaps because, without it, it’s easy to brand sportswriters as glorified fans, a label that would severely diminish the value of their work. As a result, claiming there’s a bias in sports journalism has become a little like accusing the government of a conspiracy: in an effort to protect the credibility of the institution, we turn a blind eye to obvious instances of duplicity and discredit the individual speaking out

The moment someone suggests a conspiracy in government, he or she is branded a nutcase; the moment someone suggests a bias in sports journalism, he or she is branded a homer, the scarlet letter of sports writing.

But make no mistake: at the cost of sounding like a homer (which I can handle, as a Canucks blogger) there is a bias, and we’ve seen it in the laughably anti-Canucks national coverage of this year’s Stanley Cup Final.

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Coming into tonight’s game, the Canucks had given the media very little about which to criticize them. If you were splitting hairs (and some did), you could suggest their penalty killing, 0-for-3 at that point, was subpar, but even that was a petty gripe. After all, it was a pretty small sample size, right? It’s not like they had given up five straight powerplay goals in the series or something. Mind you, then they did. And before you could say, “On second thought, I would prefer the majority of this game be played at even-strength,” they were down by two on powerplay goals by Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe. The Sharks would never relinquish the lead, although this might have had something to do with the fact that there was a Canuck in the penalty box for over half the match (32 PIM). Like the Canucks’ fifth man, I watched this game:

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Spitballin’, (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a new feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because after a game like last night’s there are lots of things to find and colour. While we covered most of them in the I Watched This Game post, Daniel would have been writing for six more hours if he tried to hit absolutely everything. Here are a few more topics that deserve mention.

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Some say the hipcheck is a lost art in the NHL, but you’d be hard pressed to find a Vancouver fan that feels this way. The offseason additions of Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis, two defenders that love to hip check, made going wide versus the Canucks a downright dicey proposition. Eventually, even Aaron Rome fell in love with the hit, giving the Canucks three guys who could surprise with a hipcheck at seemingly any moment. The result: perhaps the only team in the NHL for whom the hipcheck was common.

I’m not sure Canucks fans realized how spoiled they were this season. With that in mind, PITB has compiled a countdown of the five finest hipchecks thrown by the boys in blue and green in the 2010-11:

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On March 29, in the dying seconds of a road game versus the Nashville Predators, Canucks’ defenseman Aaron Rome scored his first goal as a Canuck. It was a 200-foot empty-netter, but that didn’t make it any less special for Vancouver, who celebrated the rare occurrence (it was Rome’s 100th game with the team) by mobbing him like he’d scored an overtime winner.

This touching moment almost didn’t happen. As the puck drifted towards the goal line, Henrik Sedin quit skating and stuck his arms out, so as to prevent anybody from spoiling the moment. In that instant, any number of shocking things could have gone awry. Below, PITB has imagined three very plausible scenarios, with adorable artist’s renderings by the fabulously talented Chloe Ezra.

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PITB is all about classic, old-school, screwball comedy, so you know any time someone takes a gob to the gob, we’re gonna be all over it. Here’s an Aaron Rome postgame interview that comes to an abrupt halt when Kevin Bieksa, Tanner Glass, and Raffi Torres, doing their best Ryan Kesler impressions as they peer from behind the curtain, successfully conspire to smear shaving cream all over Rome’s cheeks. It’s a well-executed prank, probably because Keith Ballard isn’t involved.

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Canucks 3 – 0 Ducks After the highly contentious atmosphere in the Staples Center last night, the Honda Center was downright pleasant. It’s not just that the Anaheim fans are generally more congenial (one woman gave us free hot dogs), but the building itself is a little nicer, a little more organic. Whereas the Staples [...]

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Kings, March 5, 2011

After spending about twenty hours in the Nissan Versa, bickering about music selection, coining new swear words, and fighting off an invisible army of cramps, well, it was some sort of glorious reprieve to finally get to the hockey portion of the road trip. Not that there weren’t highlights en route. For example: Bonnie Tyler’s Faster Than [...]

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Canucks 3 – 2 Blues I feel like we’ve been spouting this statistic a lot lately, but the Canucks still haven’t lost two consecutive regulation games since November. I used to be impressed; now I’m just annoyed. I mean, they keep alternating wins and losses, forcing me to point to this statistic every second game. [...]

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Canucks 4 – 2 Flames There was a surprising amount of hand-wringing following Wednesday night’s loss to the Anaheim Ducks, especially considering the Canucks hadn’t dropped two consecutive games in regulation since November. Suffice it to say, there was little to worry about (unless you’re Brad Zeimer, the Freddy Kreuger of Vancouver hockey reporting, in [...]

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Canucks 4 – 2 Senators You’d have thought, from the tone of the media coverage leading up to this game, that Ottawa was coming in with a bag over their collective heads, while the Canucks had been spotted a guillotine, a French audience, and a death warrant personally signed by Maximilien Robespierre. From the outset, [...]

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Backbreaking news for fans still basking in the glow of last night’s solid victory over the Nashville Predators, as it has been announced that Alex Edler’s back spasms that kept him out of the game are more serious than initially thought. Edler will undergo micro discectomy surgery on his back and will be out indefinitely. [...]

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