Here we are, on the eve of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. The Vancouver Canucks are ahead 3-2 in the series. This series has had everything; clutch wins by the Canucks thanks to heroics from the 'villains': Alex Burrows, Raffi Torres, and Max Lapierre, and blowout losses at the hands of the Bruins at the TD Garden. This playoff run has been in a word; amazing. We've had highs and we've had lows. This city has come together as one to support this team at every step of the way. Everywhere you go in Vancouver all you hear about are the Canucks.
But there has also been a negative part to this awesome playoffs run. The media has descended upon this city like never before. The Stanley Cup Final has been perhaps one of the most covered finals.. well, ever. Throughout our run and perhaps amplified in the Stanley Cup Final, a narrative has begun to emerge from the media. A narrative that paints everyone connected to the Canucks, from the players to the fans, as terrible, soul-sucking demons. The narrative has become so defined, the hate so clear, that a bias against the Canucks has emerged. This is where Pass It To Bulis comes in. Harrison Mooney of Pass It To Bulis does a great job of calling out various media members on their bias. After the jump you'll find a few choice excerpts from the whole article.
But make no mistake: at the cost of sounding like a homer (which I can handle, as a Canucks blogger) there is a bias, and we’ve seen it in the laughably anti-Canucks national coverage of this year’s Stanley Cup Final. As the big media has descended on Vancouver, fans have been subjected to writing from individuals who rarely cover this team, don’t particularly like this team, and would rather this team didn’t win. These writers have attacked the Canucks incessantly, misquoted players, called them names, and gleefully jumped on every opportunity to paint the team in a negative light. Then, they’ve had the nerve to dishonestly claim their one-sided coverage is fair and balanced, and insulted anyone that’s tried to say otherwise.
For fans of this team, it’s been infuriating.
It has been infuriating. For these news outlets to outright ignore the Canucks in the regular season and then as soon as the playoffs roll around to paint them as the worst team in the league is frankly some of the mostchildish reporting Ive ever seen.
...the journalistic bias against the Canucks has been clear as day. Consider, for example, the writing about the Sedins, whose manhood has been questioned for their lack of production in the Final. Anyone with an ounce of sense can see that their best series came against a team that didn’t have a dedicated shutdown pairing (San Jose), and they’ve had a tougher time against teams with Norris-Calibre defensemen that aggressively focus on shutting them down (Chicago, Nashville, Boston).
However, instead of telling this story, we’ve been subjected to a "limp-wristed Euros" narrative that smacks of embarrassing prejudice.
When was the last time someone suggested that Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews was less of a man for their relative lack of production in their respective Finals? In 2008, Crosby went minus-3 with a goal and two assists. In 2009, despite going minus-5 with no goals and three assists, Toews won the Conn Smythe. I’m sure their Canadian citizenship had nothing to do with their generous coverage.
In these cases, credit was giving to the opposing defenders who shut down elite scoring threats. The Sedins, meanwhile, simply aren’t man enough. They’re hacked, slashed and impeded constantly, but any time they go down, they’re sissy divers, a narrative that stinks of xenophobia over an ethnocentric worry that Europeans have come to ruin the Canadian game. Chris Nilan claimed their "balls shrivel up when they’re on the road", Joe Haggerty called them "Hansel and Gretel", Mike Milbury called them "Thelma and Louise," and a bevy of other sportswriters and fans have stuck with the much less innovative Sedin "sisters".
Why, exactly, is it considered acceptable — professionally acceptable, even — to mock two men by comparing them to a minority group in hockey, anyway? What’s next? The Sedins play like blacks, jews, or gays
Harrison makes a point that Ive been meaning to make. How is it that Toews and Crosby, both revered hockey players, are permitted to go almost pointless in the Stanley Cup Finals and be minus players yet when the Sedins experience even worse treatment than Toews and Crosby did in the form of slashing, hooking, and taunting, the twins are "Thelma and Louise". It is ridiculous and indicative of a media bias against the Sedins simply because A. They play for the Canucks and B. They are European.
This line of criticism is, in and of itself, childish and sexist. It’s 2011 and there are women in the Hockey Hall of Fame. If the Sedins actually were women, people might be a little more impressed with their point per game pace over the last five years, their back-to-back Art Ross trophies, their potentially back-to-back Hart trophies, or the fact that they’ve led their hockey team to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year as team leaders. As it stands, however, these accomplishments aren’t enough to escape the criticism that they’re actually women on skates — and that there’s something inherently wrong with that.
Roberto Luongo, too, has seen plenty of unfair coverage. After two consecutive winning performances in which he "outplayed" Tim Thomas, the talk was about how he was hardly challenged. Thomas, meanwhile, was already generating Conn Smythe trophy buzz in losing efforts. Then, after the two games in Boston, where Thomas, too, was "hardly challenged", the Bruins’ netminder was again hailed as the reason his team was back in the series, even though the 12 goals his skaters registered might have had something to do with it.
Luongo, meanwhile, had played himself out of the running for the Conn Smythe, despite the fact that his 14 goals against in this series are still five less than Tim Thomas allowed in the six-game Eastern Conference final. But no matter.
Questions raged about whether or not Luongo should start game 5, while the media took the opportunity to mock him for Vancouver fans cheering as he was pulled from game 4.
At first, I bristled at this report; it’s hard to defend a fanbase that would do that. Then, after looking again, I realized that it was CBC sports who reported it, the same network that quick-cuts to Cory Schneider any time they don’t like the goal Luongo let in, and it was CBC sports who quick-cut to Rogers Arena at the exact moment Luongo was getting pulled. Then, knowing full well the fans in the building cheer and wave towels whenever they’re on, they painted it as a fan betrayal of their goaltender. They manufactured that story, then "objectively" brought it to the public like a modern day William Randolph Hearst.
In short, the coverage of Tim Thomas has been kind. The coverage of Roberto Luongo has been mean-spirited and dishonest.
Luongo simply hasn't gotten enough credit. Don't get me wrong, Timmy is a great goalie who is certainly worthy of Conn Smythe nomination but the hate that Luie has gotten is unbelievably. Here is a goalie who has had two shutouts in the Stanley Cup Final, has gotten his team to within 1 win of the Stanley Cup, yet to some 'fans' and pundits he is still a 'choker'. Luie's goaltending has been the definition of clutch.
Then there’s Alex Burrows, who bit Patrice Bergeron in a scrum and has therefore earned a reputation as one of the most classless, disgraceful players in the history of hockey. This despite the admission of many hockey players that they’ve bitten a guy in the same situation. Justin Bourne said he bit a guy once, after telling the guy repeatedly to get his fingers out of his face. Don Cherry said he bit a guy once. Boston’s Marc Savard bit a guy once. No one’s talking about that.
Maxim Lapierre is classless too, because he waved a finger in Bregron’s face. However, Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic, who tried to stuff their fingers in Lapierre and Burrows’s respective mouths in game 3 remain perfect gentlemen.
Looks to me like everybody acted pretty stupid there. Heck, both teams have been guilty of dirty play at times over this series. But the ongoing narrative that casts the Canucks as classless baddies and the Bruins as classy goodies stinks of one-sided reporting.
Lapierre’s sell job on the Zdeno Chara spear wasn’t his finest moment, but it certainly didn’t warrant Scott Burnside’s decision to mock him after the game, did it? "You looked like you were mortally wounded after the Chara spear," Burnside said. "I wondered how you were able to carry on after that." Burnside calling Lapierre classless after a question like that seems hypocritical, no?
Speaking of Zdeno Chara, he ran a guy into a stanchion and broke his neck this season, but that was an accident from a classy player with no history of violence. Meanwhile, Aaron Rome concussed Nathan Horton in an open-ice hit. That was a willful intent to injure.
In truth, it looked to me like both plays were accidental, but the decision to forgive one and use the other as proof an entire team is dirty seems like the conscious choice of a journalist, don’t you? There was little outrage when Jamie McGinn concussed Rome in the series prior. Why’s that? Because nobody was looking for evidence that would confirm a bias against the Sharks.
Class has been big topic of this Final. Barry Rozner said the Canucks’ names on the Stanley Cup would be a disgrace. Right. Can an organization that donated $5 million to the BC Children’s Hospital and employs two players who privately donated another $1.5 million really be that classless? Of course, it’s hard to drop a paragraph about the Sedins’ charitable contributions into an article about how they don’t have testicles. Heck, class is pretty subjective. How the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that mocks injured players, employs a kid that beat up a cab driver, and a guy that broke Ryan Kesler’s nose on an intentional headshot nobody seemed to care about can be called a classy Cup winner, while the Canucks are the disgrace of the league is beyond me.
If you’re not seeing the bias here, something is wrong. It’s the same bias fans have when they see their own teams’ players as squeaky clean protagonists and the opponents as antagonizing marauders, out to win by breaking the rules. The only difference is it’s being spewed from the mouths of those that allege no allegiance.
Heck, a number of sports journalists have even admitted a preference, though they’ve disguised personal diatribes about how much they don’t like Vancouver as objective essays on how the Canucks "aren’t Canada’s team." How, exactly, does one person speak for Canada? Sounds subjective to me. And when the supporting evidence is entirely derived from personal opinions and attacks on players the writer dislikes, it’s hard to say it’s a fair and balanced report.
Truth is, I wouldn’t mind coverage like this if we weren’t being fed the party line that it’s objective. As I said at the beginning of this post, I have more respect for someone that admits and deals with their bias than somebody that insults my intelligence by claiming it doesn’t exist.
This article itself was just another excellent piece that Harrison and the rest of PITB has churned out. If you want to read the rest of the article Ive put a link to it before the jump.
Look, I understand that the media isn't always going to be upstanding citizens. They're going to manipulate and edit what the players say and do to manufacture stories. The point of this article and my post was to simply call attention to what ridiculous lengths the media's actions have gone.
Either way, we're in the Stanley Cup Final. Enjoy this, people. One win tomorrow and a lifelong dream, for many, comes true. One more win and I can die a happy man. Bring us the Cup, boys.