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We were doing our job," Journal de Montreal sports editor Denis Poissant said.

In this case, the job involved a Journal reporter and photographer entering the Montreal hospital where Canadiens captain Saku Koivu had been admitted a day earlier after sustaining a serious eye injury from a high stick.

Koivu left Game 3 of the Canadiens-Carolina Hurricanes series and was rushed to hospital after being cut near the eye.

Without Koivu's permission, the photographer took his picture. And, making it worse, a flash was used. Doctors had told Koivu to avoid bright lights. The photo, displayed on the front page of le Journal on Friday, showed Koivu attempting to protect his damaged eye from the flash.

Needless to say, Koivu is upset and the club is furious. Le Journal also was criticized by columnist Réjean Tremblay of La Presse, as well as Stu Cowan, the sports editor of The Gazette, who wrote, "With the extent of his injury uncertain and his family obviously worried, I think Koivu deserved some privacy at the hospital when he asked for it."

But, George Kalogerakis, le Journal's managing editor, yesterday defended the decision to take the picture and run it on the front page.

"We believed it was a matter of public interest to go and find him, and show people his injury," he said. "For us, it was something in the public limelight and it was an issue we had to look into."

But what about the potential of causing further damage to Koivu's eye by using a flash?

"He didn't tell us that [he was to avoid bright lights]" Kalogerakis said. "And I don't remember reading that it was a problem."

Of course, if the photographer had asked permission from Koivu to take the picture, he might have been told about the potential danger of a flash.

Visiting a patient in a hospital for a photo is hardly new in the rough and tumble world of tabloid journalism, but sticking a flash in the face of a man whose eye is seriously damaged was reckless and irresponsible.

Hockey audiences

NBC's ratings for the first weekend of the NHL playoffs were actually higher than reported.

The network earned an average rating of 1.3 (percentage of U.S. households tuned in), down only 7 per cent from ABC's 1.4 on the first weekend two years ago.

For the second weekend, NBC had a 1.2 on Saturday for two regional games and a 1.6 on Sunday for two more. On the same weekend in 2004, ABC had a 1.6 on Saturday for three regional telecasts.

NBC is likely to face audience problems in the second round of the playoffs if Detroit and Philadelphia are eliminated, and coverage is limited to match-ups involving small market U.S. teams and Canadian teams.

Analyst ponders job

John Davidson confirmed he may leave broadcasting to become president of the St. Louis Blues.

"It makes a lot of sense to listen," he said in an interview. "But it's a ledger sheet with pros and cons."

The pros include Davidson's friendship with Dave Checketts, a former chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden who is heading up a group to buy the Blues. Another enticement is the challenge of running a National Hockey League club.

The cons would include the fact the Checketts purchase isn't completed. And, last week there were reports, later denied, that one of the partners, EchoStar, had pulled out.

Davidson said the circumstances will need to be ideal for him to make the jump.

"If it's not the right deal and you leave town, you'd be looking in the rear-view mirror as you're leaving town. That doesn't make sense, either."

Hits and misses

NHL playoff hits:

Hockey Night in Canada's broadcast team of Jim Hughson and Harry Neale. Hughson may be the best hockey voice in the business. Neale, who usually works with Bob Cole, seems more involved when teamed with Hughson.

TSN's Chris Cuthbert and Glenn Healy. If Hughson's not the best hockey voice, Cuthbert is. Healy is outspoken and always entertaining.

Don Cherry's Coach's Corner. Say this about Cherry: He's a visual guy, whether it's about wearing a jacket that appears to be made out of red and white floral drapes or using archival footage to show Oiler coach Craig MacTavish blocking shots as a player.

In the wake of the Koivu injury, Cherry displayed different styles of visors and explained them. Interesting and informative.


Technical problems. Just as analyst Kelly Hrudey was about to do a set-up piece on the Montreal-Carolina game Sunday night, he was abruptly cut off. The camera went to the singing of the two anthems.

Andy Murray's game analysis. He needs to stop telling us what happened and, instead, explain how and why.

By the time the Ottawa-Tampa series was over, Hockey Night's commentators were pronouncing Lightning star Martin St. Louis's last name correctly, except Greg Millen, who continued to anglicize the word Saint.

Jays jump

The Toronto Blue Jays actually had a better record at this point last year. But free-agent signings have clearly sparked interest.

Sportsnet's Jays audiences are up 20 per cent from 2004 with an average of 375,000 viewers a game.

Rating the weekend

Golf (Zurich Classic) TSN 163,000 Good second round PGA audience.
Hockey (Sabres-Flyers) TSN 232,000 CBC hockey competition hurts.
Baseball (Jays-Yankees) Sportsnet 371,000 Good number on a busy night.
Hockey (Hurricanes-Habs) CBC 1,134,000 Low, below CBC's regular-season average of 1.3 million.
Hockey (Hurricans-Habs) RDS 1,014,000 Huge audience for French-language channel.
Basketball (Wizards-Cavaliers) Score 19,000 Squished by baseball, hockey competition.
Hockey (Stars-Avs) TSN 612,000 Later start frees up the time slot.
Basketball (Suns-Lakers) Sportsnet 186,000 Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant pull in big NBA number.
Soccer (Chelsea-Man.United) Sportsnet 60,000 Largest early morning audience of season.
Soccer (Liverpool-Aston Villa) Sportsnet 44,000 A drop-off for the second game.
Football (NFL Draft) TSN 139,000 TSN's largest draft audience ever.
Baseball (Jays-Yankees) Sportsnet 323,000 Jays audience drops for afternoon game.
Basketball (Nets-Pacers) Score 20,000 Core fan base only.
Hockey (Devils-Rangers) TSN 175,000 A crowded afternoon, small amount of interest.
Hockey (Oilers-Wings) CBC 675,000 Afternoon game draws poor audience.
Hockey (Lightning-Senators) CBC 1,855,000 Sens' clincher draws CBC's highest playoff audience.
Hockey (Ducks-Flames) CBC 1,429,000 Highest for that series.
Basketball (Pistons-Bucks) Sportsnet 31,000 Killed by hockey.
Boxing (Klitschko-Byrd) TSN 146,000 Excellent audience for boxing.
Hockey (Telus Cup final) TSN 140,000 Strong viewership for midget tournament.
Hockey (Flyers-Sabres) TSN 623,000 TSN's most watched playoff telecast so far.
Hockey (Habs-Hurricanes) CBC 1,439,000 Highest for that series.
Baseball (Texas-Cleveland) Sportsnet 77,000 On a par with Sportsnet's MLB audience average.
Hockey (Sharks-Preds) TSN 333,000 Just under TSN playoff average of 334,000, which is 2% above 2004.