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The Usual Suspects

Taylor Hall blog creating sparks Add to ...

Oh, those pesky bloggers can't be trusted to … what, it was CBC? Oh. A blog was posted last week on CBC.ca by Mark Seidel (who's listed as a scout with NHL Central Scouting) suggesting Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers and his family exerted undue pressure on the Oilers to obtain the No. 4 worn by former star defenceman (now president) Kevin Lowe. Even though Seidel later disowned the piece, it remained on the CBC Sports website on Sunday.



"It is no secret that Taylor and his dad operated completely on their own schedule and agenda last year in Windsor," Seidel wrote of the NHL rookie, who played junior last season with the Windsor Spitfires. "We all assumed that Hall wouldn't dare raise the issue of taking Lowe's famous number. We were wrong and once it became apparent that this was the Team Hall plan, a lot of people in the game were outraged."



There were no quotes in the piece from the other side nor was there any indication Seidel had interviewed the subjects for the blog.



The Oilers jumped hard on the piece, and a note appeared soon after on CBC.ca: "Shortly after this article was published, CBCSports.ca was contact [sic]by J.J. Hebert, the director of communications and media relations for the Oilers, who said, 'This article paints an unfair picture of Taylor Hall and his father Steve.' Hebert also said, 'Both the Halls have been great to deal with since the beginning of his young career with the Oilers.'"



Lowe made similar noises. "Nothing could be further from the truth. It's utter nonsense, It's shoddy journalism," Lowe reportedly told Oilers Nation. Shortly thereafter, Seidel apparently apologized privately to the Oilers. ("I am fully confident that these events did not happen as I layed [sic] them out in the article.") However, the offending piece remained on CBC.ca.



It's not Seidel's first apology. He had to retract a Tomas Kaberle rumour a while back on another site. "4:21 PM: Mark Seidel: I apologize to all who follow my tweets but I was given info about Kaberle that was either incorrect or I was used but either way, im sorry." CBC did not respond to inquiries about the provenance and vetting of Seidel's piece.



The Hall Truth And Nothing But



Suspicions that the voting for the Hockey Hall of Fame has the integrity of a Survivor tribal council got new ammunition Saturday on Hockey Night on Canada's Hot Stove panel. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN suggested that some voters had been confused about the process that elected Dino Ciccarelli over Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, Pavel Bure and Adam Oates. (Forget for a moment that all four were more deserving than Ciccarelli, who scored goals when they were cheaper than the Polish zloty.)



Apparently some voters thought there would be another round of voting and were shocked to find they had voted in only Ciccarelli. As Mike Milbury asked: "Was the meeting after dinner?" The same process resulted in Pat Burns being ignored for the builders category while the late Doc Seaman, an NHL owner, and executive Jimmy Devellano got the call.



The problem with the Hall's voting is a lack of transparency. Anonymity gives voters cover for their actions, unlike voters for baseball's Hall Of Fame, the gold standard in such things, where votes are made public. Hence the tribal-council odour wafting from the votes suggesting friendships and agendas matter as much as stats and contributions. As well, what are journalists doing on a panel that promotes such secrecy? While you can make the argument about reforming the Hall voting from within, it's the job of the Fourth Estate to throw light on the dark corners, not obscure them.



Horse Sense



Textbook case of ESPN knocking down the proscenium on Friday at the Breeders' Cup. The network, whose coverage was picked up by TSN, had a live interview with John Velasquez, jockey of favourite Life At Ten, as they warmed up before the Ladies Classic. Velasquez confessed his horse was not well (her trainer later said she shouldn't have run). Sure enough, Life At Ten loped indifferently through much of the race. A late charge was not enough to get the win, leaving many bettors furious that the veterinarians at Churchill Downs had let the horse run when her jockey knew there were problems.



Unfortunately, ESPN did not follow up its exclusive on Saturday, opting to focus on Friday's brawl in the winner's circle when Calvin Borel duked it with fellow jockey Javier Castellano. There, ESPN also got caught left-footed. The network showed pictures of what it said was Borel looking calm and smiling in the jockeys' room after the melee. It wasn't till about 45 minutes later that ESPN had to admit that the pictures of Borel were recorded before the fight. Borel and Castellano went at it again in the jockeys' room and track officials closed the room to media, leading one wit to say: "The sport of kings is now the sport of Don Kings."

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