I was working on the one-week evaluation of the Capitals. Naturally I went online to sites like Yahoo NHL for background information for support. I'm browsing through and I get to the team page. And there it is, yet another hateful article about my team. Surprise, surprise, guess we should be used to it by now because there's this hatred of the idea of team from D.C. being successful for some reason. But no, this wasn't by Puck Daddy or Ross McKeon or even one of the regular idiots who like to leave what they call intelligent commentary on the message board. This was a whole other form of venom.
This article was by a fan, a regular Joe, under the guise of something called "associated content." This "Associated Content" feature appears to be some new service that allows know-nothings like this moron to post their opinions and present it as a news article. Now, to be sure, there's a something of a disclaimer if you take the time and do the research about this "Associated Content." But the way Yahoo! presents it gives this person credence, like it or not, as some sort of "expert" on hockey. This blurs the line between fan and objective observer and, I believe cheapens the purpose of the Yahoo NHL site. Do the folks at Yahoo really want it to degenerate into nothing more than a few million idiots with an opinion to gain credibility?
A word or three on what makes someone an "expert" or at least credible. Let me just put this out there--I'm not always a big fan of a lot of what Puck Daddy puts out on his blog. But I respect his contribution to the game. Same goes for the other writers there--Nicholas Cotsonika, Ross McKeon, Justin Bourne, and Sean Leahy. These are people who prepare and put a lot of time, effort, and most importantly, thought, into what they do. These are men who have been observing the game and have provided astute judgments on it for quite a few years now. And, for the most part, they don't speak from an obviously biased point of view and even when they do, they do their homework in getting their facts straight first.
It's my blog so I'll pump a bit of my own experience in this area for a bit, You're welcome to skip the next paragraph if you can't bear with me.
About eight years ago, I was part of a website known as AllExperts.com. And yes, I signed on as a hockey "expert." My point of view was that I had done extensive research in the history of the game. So in my profile I said that I could answer just about any question posted about the history of NHL as well as how the game worked. Now, did that automatically qualify me as a true "expert"? Of course not. But you know what? Every time someone asked me a question, I always checked my sources, even if I was sure I knew the answer. My experience is simply that of a fan. A fan who has been in love with the game since age two. I've played it (not very well) and studied it for that long. And I've never presented myself as anything but. The opinions in my blog are just that--my opinions--and I admit as much. I'm lucky enough to have a tiny core of loyal readers and I will not lie to them or anyone else.
Now this guy who wrote this trash, calling himself "M Colman" (probably not his real name) obviously has a very strong opinion, and he's welcome to it. I'm not going to post the link here, nor will I glorify this jerk's idiocy by running extensive quotes, so I'll just paraphrase. I do have to take him to task for a few things, however. Some things he's just plain dead wrong about. So sit back while I take apart his entire article, bit by bit.
He begins his article by proclaiming that the Caps have no heart. Okay fine, so how so? But he doesn't expand on it he just says it. Rule number one when you put yourself out there---if you actually do have a point, make like your most important computer file and back it up. I've alluded to it before a few times, but Eric Belanger playing immediately after his emergency dental work took a lot of heart if you ask me. There--some evidence. That wasn't so hard now was it?
Instead he moves on to the next point..which is...that the team is talented. Oooookay, nothing new there. Then he mentions that the Caps tend to "brag about it." Fine, sir, but where's your proof? The true fact is that there have been quite a few hockey pundits who have sung the praises of the Capitals recently. When you have observers making sweet music about your team, you don't have to toot your own horn.
Next he alludes to the notion that the team tends to crumble when faced with a challenge. My words not his. All right fine, but again, what's your point? He tries to make one by going back to the talent issue, saying that it gets "squandered" and they are "easy to hate" because said talent gets squandered. Wait a minute did you just say that the team has a lot of talent? Guess it's not bragging if it's fact. But wait--he promises to "count the ways." Maybe he has proof after all.
So he begins by attacking not the players, but our fan base. Sorry, but I'm going to take that personally because, well, I'm a part of that. He said that "You couldn't go on a NHL message board without hearing Caps fans already planning their Stanley Cup parade." Really? Is there a link? Do you have a page reference? Some shred of evidence? Or are we just supposed to take your word for it? To quote Andy Sutton, sorry but you're not an expert. Many fans talking about tickets to the Finals? Hmmm, I sure wasn't. And I didn't hear anyone else who was. If there were Caps fans who distinctly recall putting money down for Finals tickets, please let me know. There's a difference between confidence and arrogance. Most Capitals fans are confident in the team. But we're sure as hell not feeling like we've won the Cup already.
And that part about not being serious contenders? Show me one hockey journalist that felt the same way. I don't recall hearing anyone in the hockey community saying so much that the Caps would never get out of the first round or not being a "serious" contender. And what is your definition of a "serious" contender anyway? I'm sure none of the 22 Capitals players or their coaching staff treats their jobs as anything less than serious business. I know Ted Leonsis does.
M Colman then segues into the next point---the fact that the Capitals have never won a Stanley Cup. All right fine, yes it is the truth. However, to my knowledge no team has ever been handed the Stanley Cup before playing a full season, not even the inaugural winners, the Montreal AAA. So that means everybody starts out by having to go out and win it the first time. He then reveals that the Tampa Bay Lightning is his team. So what that your Tampa Bay Lightning has one all of one Cup. What happened to your team not long after that? Oh yeah, that's right, it got blown up, and then sold--twice!
To be sure, having Stevie Y. on board as GM is putting the Bolts on the road to respect again. But look at your team's overall record in its entire history before you start throwing stones. The first thing that I notice is that your team has failed to even qualify for the playoffs in twelve of its 17 seasons.
And you want to talk about arrogance--I distinctly recall a Lightning fan by the name of Pete Chocquette making visits to the Capitals NHL boards on AOL a few years ago leaving insulting messages on a daily basis. This same person also claimed that Dan Boyle would run roughshod over the league. Last I looked, he hasn't even been a finalist for the Norris trophy. He's not even on the team anymore. You seem to be sure that your team and the rest of the Southeast division will do the same to the Capitals. And you call US arrogant?
So you claim to have a "real" hockey team simply because you have won all of ONE Stanley Cup? I guess the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers,and Atlanta Thrashers aren't all "real" teams either eh? Well...maybe not Florida..just kidding. But you're saying there are only 19 "real" teams in the NHL just because they've won the Cup. I'm sure the folks in Buffalo and Vancouver especially will enjoy being told that they don't have a "real" team after 40 years. Idiot.
So thankfully it's on to the last point. I won't sugar-coat it, he calls the Capitals "choke artists." And his proof? The "fact" that the Capitals got "smashed" by the Canadiens in the playoffs last year? Oh really? "Smashed" was it? As I recall the series went to seven games so it was hardly a "smashing." And three of the four losses were by one goal, one of which was in overtime. Not exactly what I call being "smashed." Forget the fact that they blew a 3-1 series lead. I'm not just blowing it over because it's the Caps, but more because it's happened so many times in the past in different series it's nearly irrelevant. After all, we also saw a team blow a 3-0 series lead last year. Oh, by the way, it's spelled Canadiens, with an "e" not "Canadians." You may want to cover up, your lack of hockey knowledge is showing.
So we're supposed to be scared because of last year's playoff failure. If I know anything about hockey history it's that certain patterns tend to repeat themselves. And I remember the Detroit Red Wings having some setbacks in the early 1990s before they won back-to-back Cups. I have a feeling that the Capitals are headed for the same fate. I call that confidence, not arrogance. Our team has the same feel about it, the same hunger. I'm not even saying that it'll definitely happen this year, but I like our chances. I know this much--your Lightning will be lucky even if they contend for the playoffs. Sorry but they're not ready for much else. I acknowledge that the competition will be tougher this year, but no less than Greg Wyshinski (Puck Daddy) himself has said, and I quote, "the Capitals can probably sleepwalk to the Southeast Division title this year." Check out the 20th episode of Japers Rink radio if you doubt my veracity. That certainly doesn't sound like a team that will make its fans "squirm." And, judging by the nature of a few of the wins they've gotten already this year, I don't see anything resembling the word "quit" in this team.
I'm done with M Colman. I won't presume to give this arrogant jackass any more of my time. Next time you want to post an opinion, don't try to pass it off as fact unless you have something with which to back it up. Better yet just stick to writing boring reviews about restaraunts in Key West. People like him are a dime-a-dozen and his uninformed opinion exposed him for what he is--a jealous hateful fraud.
I am not done with Yahoo, however. I have a Yahoo email account and I'm giving serious consideration to terminating it because of this episode. Do they realize any idiot can pass themselves off as an expert without offering any credentials? At least with a blog you know it's someone's personal page and you're clued into to their point of view. But when this kind of an article is linked to a team's page at Yahoo NHL as if it were a news article, that's just wrong. There's no sin with anyone posting their opinion, no matter how ill-informed or ridiculous it is. Just don't try baiting people into reading it if it's just opinion and not fact. If this person has an axe to grind, let them start their own blog or post a message on one of the boards after the real writers produce an article.
This "Associated Content" whatever it is also gives me grave concerns in that anyone wishing to offer a rebuttal or correction cannot do so, save for the usual comment boards at the end of the article. For this article, 31 users did just that, and the vast majority (save for one know-nothing who will remain nameless) reacted negatively to the article. Some even questioned Yahoo's methods as I am now. But unfortunately there's still no way to post one's own article to refute anything so misinformed. At least let someone in the know offer an informed opinion, someone like Jon Press or Stephen Pepper of Japers Rink website. I took a stab at it myself by offering to register for this feature. You want to register to write hockey articles, though, you'll have to wait in line. They decide what "assignments" are available and you certainly don't have a chance to offer up a well-timed thoughtful response of your own. Me? I got offered the chance to write about suggestions for Halloween decorations. Boo.
I find this all ironic because earlier today I was listening to the latest available podcast of the Faceoff Hockey Show. Of all people, Puck Daddy (boy I better get a check or something for the number of times I've dropped his name!) himself was on and so was Lyle Richardson of Spector's hockey website. They were all talking about how hockey, above all other sports, has taken advantage of the power of the internet and has grown because of it. These are two examples of how coverage of the sport has blossomed because people like Ted Leonsis have led the way for an internet-friendly environment. Well, as they say, it only takes one bad apple to ruin the barrel. This article is a bad apple with a whole lot of worms and feces all over it that can spread to all the other apples. Like that image? Did I ruin your dinner? Well that's what will happen if garbage like this is allowed to continue. At least give articles like these a proper forum--not as legitimate sports articles.
If this is nothing more than a pathetic attempt by Yahoo to create controversy in order to help reverse its flagging fortunes, then I pity them. I only hope that if that's the case, Puck Daddy and his staff jumps ship before it's too late and Yahoo soils itself forever with "contributions" from people like this moron.
The rest of us knowledgeable hockey fans will continue to be able to sniff out the trash and avoid it.
That's my opinion, and you're welcome to it.