Editor's note: At 5 p. m. ET: The Globe revealed more details about the whereabouts of convicted sex offender Graham James as part of a joint investigative effort with CBC News. Read that story here.
He may be the most despised man in the history of hockey. And among the most despised men in Canadian history, too. Convicted hockey sex offender Graham James has been keeping a very low profile since his release from prison in 2006 on charges that he abused Sheldon Kennedy and an unnamed former player on the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League.
When Theoren Fleury admitted in 2009 that he, too, had been abused by James, the former hockey coach seemed to go even further underground. But as will be revealed later today on CBC's The National and on globeandmail.com (the story was done cooperatively), James is living and working outside Canada.
CBC reporter Bob McKeown says that a tip from an anonymous source in the days after news of James' pardon was revealed led reporters to the disgraced former coach. The country code and city code in the number tipped them off to the country of his residence, but finding an exact location was problematic.
"We were concerned it was a cell phone, which is harder to trace in this country," McKeown told Usual Suspects on Tuesday. "But it was a hard line that led us to an exact address."
The problem was that James lives in a gated building that requires access. Local police let the reporters know quickly they couldn't stake out the front gate.
"So we made inquiries, and it turned out the apartment two doors away from James was available to rent. So we moved in and waited." After a few days reconnoitering the area, McKeown and his crew were able to find a reluctant James and conduct a four-minute impromptu interview on the street. "He's certainly changed physically from all those pictures of 20 years ago," McKeown says. "He's lost 40 pounds from what I can see. He's balder and greyer."
McKeown says they asked the questions on the mind of Canadians - about Fleury, the pardon, and what he's doing now. McKeown will not reveal more details until the CBC and globeandmail.com run a story later this afternoon, but he says James claims not to be in hiding and that he holds a job. "He's not a threatening person... I got the impression he was either bending over backward to be polite or he was lonely. He didn't want to say goodbye."
James will have to make plans now that he's been found out, says McKeown, who's also reported on another controversial hockey coach, David Frost. "Our putting him on TV after all these years is going to throw his world as it exists upside down. Sometimes in this job, you feel sorry for the people you put on TV in this fashion. I have no such feeling for Graham James."
Question Time: Good job by HNIC's Scott Oake trying to get answers in the face of Gary Bettman's withering condescension on Tuesday. Fending off Bettman's unctuous comparisons of Oake to Ron MacLean and the commissioner's inane observations about Oake's impatience to clarify Winnipeg issues, Oake soldiered on through the bafflegab. While Bettman did his "through a glass darkly" explanation, Oake did establish one inarguable fact: Bettman is just about out of answers.
Good on HNIC Pt. 2: To Kelly Hrudey for calling out Canucks captain Roberto Luongo after his Game Six "I played hard" speech. Hrudey said Luongo has to accept that he is the Canucks' best player and has to play like it.
Jock Talk: Sorry is supposed to be the hardest word. But when it comes to sports broadcasters, groin is the noun that dare not speak its name. Witness Sunday's excruciating injury to Vancouver's Sami Salo, who took a puck to his groin. Hockey Night In Canada's announcing duo of Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson just couldn't bring themselves to say the word groin. Or testicle.
There was discussion of Salo's wrist. And midriff. And a sensitive area. The various panelists on CBC and TSN likewise couldn't bring themselves to say that Salo might have suffered an injury similar to the testicle rupture endured by Detroit's Nick Lidstrom last year-- an injury they'd studiously avoided, too. Even TSN's Twitter question genteelly wondered, "should honour prevent the Hawks from going after his injured area?"
By game time Tuesday, HNIC's Scott Oake found the courage to say the word testicle live on air. Eureka. Followed by a remark from Ron MacLean about Oake doing the former with a straight face. Back to square one.
The hockey media is hardly alone. It's one of those TV sports shibboleths - like talking about a no-hitter in progress - that even if a player takes a shot in the groin you either pretend it hit elsewhere or else giggle like a 14-year-old boy. ("I'm not going near that thing. What if it pops?" Chicago's Adam Burish joked Tuesday of Salo's injury). It's reminiscent of Bill Cosby's classic comedy routine about playing football at Temple and being told by the athletic director that if you're ever hurt in the groin "don't touch yourself down there. We need the TV contract."
Tell Us Where It Hurts: Which leads us to our annual rant about the NHL's policy of media reporting on injuries in the playoffs. Or the complete absence of reporting, as is the case. To describe what ails players, the NHL went to the euphemism bank for some nonsense verse. Now, "lower-body injury" and "day-to-day" prompt endless mirth in newspapers and on blogs. "We can't talk about Sami's injury and we haven't said, really, where it is," said a laughing Canucks coach Alain Vigneault trying to control himself Tuesday. "They wouldn't know where to go."
Precisely. The notion behind the NHL's media ban on injury details is that opponents will exploit Salo knowing that he took a puck in the groin. Or that Dany Heatley hurt his ankle. Or that Andrei Markov tore up his knee. Or that Willie Mitchell went head first into the boards. As if, say, five seconds of watching video or seeing them skate won't immediately confirm their injuries. Like fighting-as-safety-valve, the logic of disguising injuries went out with tube skates.
On another level, the secretive media policy also underlines the NHL's disdain for its customers. Joe Fan is good enough to pay $500 for a playoff ticket. But let him or her know the exact nature of a player's injury? To quote Mike Singletary: "Can't do it. Won't do it." The food chain is clear. And fans are not at the top of the information flow.
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