If you don't think social media has changed sports, you weren't watching the Jarome Iginla trade watch fiasco on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. From the first tweets at about 7:30 ET that Iginla was a healthy scratch in the game against Colorado, followers of social media were led down a blind alley by some prominent names in the media.
Within minutes of Iginla's absence we learned that Boston had scratched two of their top prospects the same night. Tweeters quickly filled in the bios on the prospective Bruin trade parts Matt Bartkowski and Alexander Khokhlachev. Then Twitter revealed that Iginla had not even gone to the rink.
Let's see. Iginla, healthy scratch. Bartkowski and Khokhlachev scratched. Sounds like a trade.
From there the tension rose between tweeting heads as Boston went from prohibitive "favourite" to prohibitive "maybe" as a destination for the Olympic gold-medal winner. Los Angeles was said to still be in the mix for the NHL goal scoring champion. Could L.A. goalie Jonathan Bernier be in play? Perhaps Calgary was using Boston to lever other deals.
It took a few minutes before the apparent return was announced via tweet by TSN's Bob McKenzie: "Unconfirmed but BOS-CGY appears to be Khokhlachev/Bartkowski/conditional 1st round pick for Iginla. 1st rder conditional on Iggy re-signing."
Then, Renaud Lavoie, Ward's colleague at RDS, had the first sign that something was amiss. " @ RenLavoieRDS Don't kill the messenger here. Bruins are telling me no deal in place for Jarome Iginla and no deal will be done tonight."
Still, TSN and Sportsnet both went with Iggy to Boston in their main newscasts. TSN even had a depth chart showing Iginla playing on a line with David Krejci.
Till Calgary GM Jay Feaster finally went live with the switcheroo at 1:27 a.m. ET that it was Pittsburgh, not Boston, that had won the Iginla sweepstakes. College players Ken Agostino and Ben Hanowski and a first rounder were headed to Calgary.
Leaving TSN's panel with egg on its face. Bob McKenzie, Craig Button and Darren Dreger returned and studiously avoided the gaffe as they recast the story as Iginla to Pittsburgh. No explanation was offered for how Ward had gotten his sources wrong. Or where Ward had gone.
What happened? You could see in McKenzie's continued caution about leaping to conclusions all night that he was uncomfortable on the call. But once again, haste made waste in the race to be first on social media. As the pressure has grown to break trades on Trade Deadline Day or Free Agent Frenzy, corners have been cut, with networks and writers reporting half-completed deals. This rush to (faulty) judgment was inevitable under such conditions.
GOOD NIGHT/BAD NIGHT
Up to the rude ending, it had been a good night for TSN as their Bruins/Montreal Canadiens broadcast followed by Calgary/Colorado provided the perfect backdrop to hot-stove speculation on Iginla, the man with 525 career goals.
TSN's crack producers found Calgary GM Jay Feaster leaving the press box avec cell phone for his office during the first period. Their cameras also found the mournful signs and chants of "Iggy" in the Saddledome crowd. Announcers Gord Miller and Mike Johnson kept the story alive without letting it overwhelm the game call.
Most of all, TSN was owning the national airwaves on this pivotal night at Sportsnet's expense. Ward's dramatic disappearance from the set only to reappear with the confirmation was great TV. And Duthie smoothly paced the hours of coulda'/ woulda'/ shoulda'.
Only to have it all explode in their face when Iginla picked Pittsburgh over Boston. Hopefully the journalism schools were watching.
BEST DEAL AVAILABLE
For the trade itself, Calgary probably got the best the market could offer on an aging superstar player with an expiring contract. For Flames fans who were told a fantasy about a return of a top four defenceman, a top prospect and a No. 1 pick, the news was another disappointment from a management team that has been long on disappointment lately.
Sometimes you have to just let go. Don't tell Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, however. The voluble Melnyk is still unable to accept that Pittsburgh's wrecking ball Matt Cooke was without guilt in severing the Achilles tendon of Gene's star defenceman Erik Karlsson.
After all, there's a trail of bodies in Cooke's wake to prove he can be hazardous to health. But the NHL chose to exonerate Cooke in injuring Karlsson. Melnyk was not appeased.
So the Sens owner has launched a "forensic" examination to prove that Cooke deliberately injured Karlsson. He told Bob McCown on Sportsnet's Prime Time Sports Wednesday that he will prove to the NHL via video and expert medical analysis that Cooke did it. Paging Jake Gittes! The issue will be handled either internally or publicly by the NHL, said Melnyk. When that is done, Melnyk will throw his expertise behind O.J. Simpson's search for Nicole's killers and the hunt for Amelia Earhart.