Leafian lie makes for Google giggles
A Google search using the keywords “Ron Wilson Leafs lying” yielded a variety of results Monday, including one that misinterpreted the whole thing.
Instead of zeroing in only on the unconscionable crime of Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson intentionally misleading the media about the identity of his starting goaltender for Saturday night’s game against Boston, the search also produced a story about the death and state funeral of ‘Ronald’ Reagan.
Talk about focussing on the unimportant. Give your head a shake, Google.
The story stated that former California governor Pete ‘Wilson’ was in attendance and it made reference to Reagan ‘lying’ in state and offered the opinion that the former president “‘leaves’ behind a nation he restored and . . .”
Imagine Google thinking someone just misspelled “leaves,” and didn’t know the difference.
Or imagine, if you’re from that sad slice of the population that lies outside Leaf Nation, not being consumed by the scandal — truly, it is no less than that — ensuing from a hockey coach engaging in disinformation to throw reporters off the scent for no apparent reason other than a little personal entertainment.
The nerve of the man. Saying one day: “I’m not being definitive on anything, but we’ve told Gustavsson that he’s going to be playing tomorrow.” And then, the very next day, starting James Reimer in goal! Without even having the common decency to call any of the reporters! So that they could try to beat each other to the punch by being first to thumb the stunning news on their BlackBerries or iPhones to their many followers on Twitter, who couldn’t possibly survive without advance warning that all their hopes and dreams of a Gustavssson start in net were about to be dashed!
And Wilson then crowing about it, saying he’d actually known for three days that he was going to play Reimer.
Ronald Reagan. Pffft.
This isn’t some hoary old dead president we’re talking about. This is the Leafs’ starting goalie, a guy who could potentially make the difference between a 6-3 loss and a 4-1 loss, as Reimer proved on Saturday.
All right, so we’re being a little flippant here. We’re not taking seriously enough this heinous abdication of responsibility by the coach of the most important (definitely self-important) hockey team on earth.
Should we not be outraged? And if we are not, aren’t we encouraging other coaches, other general managers to lie to the media?
Oh, good grief. You think they need urging? Wailing about it only makes us look kind of petty and whiny, as a species.
Anyone who works as a reporter and has not been lied to, routinely — or simply misled, or misinformed, or had half the story given to him/her and the important part left out — is clearly covering something other than professional sports.
This conclusion is not reached solely by having dealt with at least a couple of sports team owners who lied only when their lips were moving, but also by frequent contact with professional dissemblers and issuers of half-truths and flagrant red herrings.
Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke has taken to Twitter to say that reporters who are making a federal case of Wilson lying to them are the pot calling the kettle black.
“I love the quote about the liars in sports,” wrote Burke. “Many gainfully employed in the media.”
True, one reporter wrote back: including a pile of ex-coaches.
Wilson, who seemed to get a charge out of the molehill-as-mountain, tweeted: “Favorite movies: Liar, Liar; The Invention of Lying; Big Fat Liar. HaHa!”
So basically, he’s having fun with the flap, and Burke is taking the coach’s side, as he must, and anyway, Burke has always liked a good pissing match.
But in case you’ve forgotten, it might be helpful to remember where all this Burke-Wilson media animus comes from.
They said it when they were working in Anaheim, and (in Wilson’s case) San Jose. Burke said it when he was GM in Vancouver. They are, both of them, from the “Canada suffocates its hockey teams” school. Both believe that Canadians love their teams to death, lavish too much attention on them, scrutinize them too minutely, put them under a microscope and poke and prod them, molecule by molecule, looking for anything that might be a story, even a half-assed, insignificant story.
A grimace. A raised eyebrow. A fart. What does it all mean? Is the hangnail really a hangnail, or a high ankle sprain? Is a hip flexor really an upper-body injury?
Is it kosher to report that a guy knocked loopy by a head blow has a concussion? No. And if the team refuses to call it that, is it permissible to call the player’s mother — as the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk did in an attempt to get to the bottom of the James Reimer deception? No, no, no.
Are parents out of bounds, and sworn to the same oath of omerta as the public relations department when it comes to injuries? Absolutely, in the team’s eyes.
During the first-round playoff series against the Blackhawks last spring, Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault flat-out told reporters that his faith in shaky Roberto Luongo was steadfast, and he would start Game 6 in goal, but when the puck was dropped, it was Cory Schneider between the pipes.
After the Canucks lost the game, Vigneault said that he didn’t actually lie, he just “went with the gut.”
Sure, Alain. And who would play Game 7?
“If I told you who I’m going to play, would you believe me now?” he asked.
That’s good advice, by the way. Make sure to put “he said” beside any information used. Don’t pretend you invented it. And don’t take it personally when they lie. According to generations of old hockey writers who dealt with a lot of coaches and GMs now in the Hall of Fame, the current crop didn’t invent that, either.
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