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The Usual Suspects

'The wussification of Mike Milbury' Add to ...

What's next, Al Gore renounces global warming? Mike Milbury, the Sultan of Swat, spent Saturday night's Hotstove segment of Hockey Night in Canada questioning fighting in hockey. Citing the alarming number of concussions and other injuries resulting from the NHL's addiction to fisticuffs (particularly the staged version), Milbury spoke the words: "The only reason we have fighting in the game is because we like it." Over the objections of host Ron MacLean that deterrence works, Milbury growled: "Don't tell me we police it, Ron … it's still hogwash."

Milbury also questioned the role of designated fighters who sit at the end of the bench awaiting their chance for a fixed-appointment bout. "For what purpose are they on the end of the bench?" Could this be the same Mike Milbury who has denounced all attempts to move the game away from its risky behaviour as "wussification," with the caveat, "It's a man's game"?

Bob Probert's brain-trauma evidence from last week was not mentioned, but you had to wonder if it had made Milbury reflective. Perhaps it's simply the sheer accumulation of punched-out NHL enforcers. Whatever. It seems something has turned for Milbury, who was a bumptious player and a staunch defender of hockey's dark arts.

Even as MacLean revived the usual chestnuts about accountability and protecting skill players like Sidney Crosby (injured in spite of the palace guard), Milbury held fast in the face of the "policing the game" mantra. "Because it's a first segment obscenity, I'll put it in the short form … B.S," Milbury said. Leading his Hotstove cohort, Pierre LeBrun, to tease: "The wussification of Mike Milbury, never thought I'd see it."

The Tweet Science

What's to be done about Twitter? After a trade-deadline day of fake Marty Reasoner trades and other bogus business, the lords of disinformation were at it again this week on the Taylor Hall injury. An unofficial Edmonton Oilers site prematurely announced that Hall was out for the rest of the season as a result of his fight-induced ankle injury. While the report eventually proved to be true, TSN's Bob McKenzie, one of the best purveyors of Twitter, bit on the early report (then quickly rescinded it).

Leading McKenzie to publicly reproach himself. "I always - actually, can't say that any more - double/triple check fake acts for # of followers. Let my guard down. BOOM. That'll teach me." McKenzie is hardly the only professional journalist caught in the snare of Twitter. Most of us have spent time validating - and erroneously accepting - fake stories on the social media.

Should we discount Twitter as a legitimate source? "Twitter is Twitter," McKenzie told Usual Suspects in an e-mail. "It can't be cheapened. I mean, it's not the CP wire. It's up to each individual who is on it to act accordingly, given their own circumstance. The problem isn't the vehicle as much as the people driving it. It's social media. Not the gospel … Ultimately, it's up to each journalist on Twitter to protect him/herself by using same standards of reporting something before there was Twitter. That's the bottom line."

Makes you appreciate that pun about people who use Twitter lacking characters.

Scoop To Conquer

Speaking of journalistic standards, maybe we need a statute of limitations on scoops. Between trade rumours and predictions of the Phoenix Coyotes' demise, there are plenty in the fourth estate with much riding on the outcome of stories that take days, weeks or (in the Coyotes' case) years to resolve.

Does a prediction that the Dallas Stars won't move Brad Richards (they didn't), or that the Goldwater Institute will poison the Coyotes' bond issue (still in play) have an unlimited shelf life or does it finally toll? If Tomas Kaberle ends up in Boston and the Coyotes end up in Winnipeg, who can claim credit for the scoops?

Here's the Usual Suspects' rough guide to scoopage: On trades, 48-hour limit for credit. On any prediction involving Brian Burke, one hour. On criminal cases, one week. On resolution of the National Football League labour dispute, 24 hours. On the future of the Coyotes, off the board.

Miller Time

Finally, Johnny Miller watching the Bear Trap at PGA National, site of this week's Honda Classic, take in another victim in the windswept layout. As Stuart Appleby chopped his way to watery ignominy, Miller declared: "That may have been the three worst shots in a row in televised history."

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