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Hockey analyst Nick Kypreos is seen in the Sportsnet studio in Toronto on November 9, 2010. (JENNIFER ROBERTS For The Globe and Mail)
Hockey analyst Nick Kypreos is seen in the Sportsnet studio in Toronto on November 9, 2010. (JENNIFER ROBERTS For The Globe and Mail)

usual suspects

Dowbiggin: Sportsnet's Hockey Central captures car-crash reality of NHL season Add to ...

They talk over each other. They have trouble staying on topic. They drink waaay too much water. They yell about “back diving” and “make whole.” But Sportsnet’s Hockey Central At Noon panel echoes the chaos as the NHL attempts to take out its own appendix without anesthesia.

Former player Nick Kypreos personifies the defiant, prideful heart of player resistance. Former Columbus general manager and president Doug MacLean uses his small-market perspective to offer the pretzel logic of the league’s business plan. Host Daren Millard tries to advance the issues before the bombs start flying.

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You can’t watch it every day. The debate points are worn to the rims. The parties seem like actors being asked to do a hundredth scene take by Alfred Hitchcock. But it’s the car-crash reality of the lockout in a way no other Sportsnet or TSN show has yet captured. This, ladies and gentleman, is what the NHL has become in the fall of 2012. A dysfunctional talk show.

Pot-shots at Tebow

It may not be the most base journalistic technique to sell papers, but it’s got to be in the bottom three. Namely, citing unidentified teammates to launch ad hominem attacks on New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. The New York Daily News printed quotes about the hapless Tebow from an unidentified defensive teammate saying he was, in effect, a useless player.

True or not, the use of anonymous sources in this case represents hasty journalism, a reporter in too big a hurry for a scoop. It’s the point at which an editor or publisher has to say, go back and get your source on record or forget the story. Apparently that’s not the policy at the Daily News when it comes to character assassination.

There are times when anonymity is permissible. Granting it to a source in a case that involves national safety, political corruption or financial malfeasance. When the source faces physical harm or dismissal.

But to let one player denigrate a colleague’s reputation? What consequences did the cowardly Jet face when he humiliated Tebow from the safe harbour of anonymity? Very few. The reporter, too, seems to have protection from his newspaper.

There’s a very keen competition for readers in NYC. Wednesday, it took honour as a casualty.

All Tebow, all the time

For a cogent look at how ESPN adopted Tebow and rode him to the bottom check out deadspin.com. Author John Koblin points out that ESPN’s infatuation with the Jets’ seldom-used quarterback has become journalism by focus group as Tebow succeeds Brett Favre as mandated talking point.

What’s interesting is how TSN, owned in a small part by ESPN and unafraid to mimic the style and presentation of the world wide leader, hasn’t gone in this direction. Yet. TSN has remained obsessed with hockey, of course. When it gets silly over a player it’s usually the best, such as Sidney Crosby, not a scrub such as Tebow.

While TSN spends acres of time on the hopeless Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s not like the creepy obsession ESPN has with a rarely used QB. There’s no Tebowing at TSN. Maybe this is the Bob McKenzie effect. It’s hard to see the phlegmatic McKenzie going all Skip Bayless-rabid over anything. Good thing, too.

Nik of time

The thing you must know about Nik Lewis, the tweeting fool of the Calgary Stampeders, is that his comments are inversely related to the amount of attention he got in last weekend’s CFL playoff game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Drew Tate and Romby Bryant were the stars of Calgary’s game, not Lewis. Voilà, a tweeting scandal about O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson from Lewis. Then a half-hearted apology. Then the dreaded re-statement of his apology. Perhaps Lewis is thinking this distracts from the Tate concussion fiasco. Or perhaps we’re giving Lewis way too much credit.

It’ll be interesting to see where or if Lewis is playing in the CFL next season.

Radio waves

For a radio station trying to make inroads in the Toronto radio market it seemed like odd behaviour. When the Toronto Blue Jays’ proposed trade with the Miami Marlins broke on Tuesday, it caught the team’s radio host, Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590, in the midst of a Toronto Raptors game broadcast.

Perfect chance for upstart TSN Radio 1050 to scoop ’em on The Fan’s own story. Instead, TSN declined to break out of its scheduled Toronto Argonauts show. Listeners were told they’d get to the story ... after the Argos. You sure this is how Howard Cosell started?

Speaking of strange, when did Bob McCown morph into Don Cherry? McCown is currently flogging large-format TVs in a commercial with the quip, “I’ve got 133 inches ... on my big picture screen that is!” Try the veal, tip the waitress ...

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