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Dirty Laundry

Remember the old Don Henley song about professional journalism? "Kick em when they're up...kick em when they're down", yadda, yadda, yadda. Negativity sells papers, everyone knows that. The same is true for sports journalism, I guess. Yesterday during my typical lunch hour of skimming through a number of various hockey news sources, I came across the following article written by Hugh Kellenberger of the Rocky Mount Times. "Hurricanes' glory now merely a thing of the past, one year later". Poor Mr. Kellenberger couldn't think of, or apparently find anything positive to write about on the 1 year anniversary of the most important professional sports moment in North Carolina history. He focused on a couple of low points during the past year to validate his opinion that hockey "permanence" in the area only lasted 7 months. Perhaps he didn't have room in his article to mention that the Canes set a record for most sell outs in their history as well as set an overall attendance record last year. Perhaps he didn't have time to inform his readers that Caniacs sold out the RBC for a meaningless final game of the season and sent the team off with a standing ovation, even after that failure of a season. Why didn't he report that news?

Instead of checking online Hurricanes news sources for information or calling the team media people, Mr. Kellenberger dropped in one Friday afternoon at the Eye and found it to be empty! Oh My God, nobody was buying any 2006 Championship gear! He used this infallible information to determine that Caniacs had lost interest in the team as well as the past glory of the franchise. Quite the researcher this guy is! Finally, he went on to imply that the fanbase will lose interest further if Jim Rutherford fails to make a meaningful trade this offseason. His exact words were " The right move will send the fan base, an area defined as from Rocky Mount to Greensboro, clamoring for tickets and trinkets. If not, the Hurricanes are destined to become a yearly outsight." To be honest, I'm not even sure what "outsight" means, but then again I'm not a professional journalist so it's probably over my head.

I immediately wrote Mr. Kellenberger a letter informing him that I thought he was either ill-informed or simply ignorant about the fanbase here in the Raleigh area. I brought up some positive aspects of the season which I thought he could have mentioned. I also invited him to the Carolina Ale House last night, to see the "lack of interest" for himself! (Huge, rowdy crowd and a great time by the way! But more about that later.) Finally, I even offered my services to him, as any humble blogger would do. I figured that if he's getting his information and basing his conclusions just by spending a few minutes at the Eye, I could provide him with more data than that! Mr. Kellenberger responded in kind, but smugly put me in my place. As a "professional" with credentials, he doesn't need a lowly blogger like me offering him information. Having reported from "in the dressing room" for 2 years, (his exact words), he's already written many positives about the team. Whatever, but this brings me to a related topic that I might as well touch upon now.

Last week, the New York Islanders opened up a competition of sorts for Islander bloggers to earn press credentials. The article is here. More and more NHL teams are embracing their fan's blog sites and some teams like the Capitals, Thrashers, and Canucks have already granted limited press credential access to selected bloggers. Joe Ovies from 850 The Buzz wrote a good story about this and even mentions Canes Country and yours truly by name. (shameless self promotion here). Joe contacted Mike Sundheim from the Canes to see if Carolina might do something similar and the short answer was "maybe". Well, I sent both Mike Sundheim and Kyle Hanlin a couple of emails last year asking about this type of thing and neither of my emails were returned. I guess that I didn't even warrant a "get lost jackass" response. Maybe I sent the emails to the wrong address or maybe they were both just too busy to respond, who knows? Anyway, since the door seems a bit open right now, I will send them both another email in a few days. If they don't respond to this one, I'll contact Joe Ovies and see if "The Buzz" will give me a temporary assignment!

Seriously, I can understand the trepidation of the Cane's media department. Any imbecile can start a blog and if they gave out access to just anyone, it would be a fiasco in the dressing room or in the pressbox every game. The players don't need that. But I really do think that fans want and deserve more information about this team. What better way to offer the information than from a knowledgeable, loyal blogger? A blogger couldn't write a worse story than the fore-mentioned, credentialed Mr. Kellenberger, now could they? The same professional, credentialed writer who spent 2 years in the Cane's dressing room but couldn't think of anything positive to say on the anniversary of the most cherished date in franchise history. Most bloggers I know would do a little more research than what he did if they were writing a story for a newspaper! Which leads me to another point. How many times have we read inaccuracies in the papers from these so called professional journalists? I'm not speaking about Luke DeCock, who usually does an excellent job. I'm speaking about the non-hockey sportswriters out there who normally cover other sports but sometimes write about the team and mess up common, simple facts. We have all seen it happen. What's worse for a franchise, having professional writers cover the team who don't know much about the game, even less about the personnel, and end up writing garbage, or having un-credentialed bloggers write about what's going on, who do have proper knowledge about the game, the team, and the fanbase? I know whose stories that I would rather read!

One last thing and I promise to end this novella. Something to keep in mind is that many bloggers don't want this type of access or don't have time for it. Each blog is a bit different and each blogger has their own purpose or agenda. Cason discusses this a bit in a recent posting on "Casonblog". In my opinion, there is no right way or wrong way to run a blog, it's up to each individual. From my perspective, I love to find, interpret, report, and analyze hockey news, especially news about the Canes. While some game access might be nice, primarily I would love to have special access during training camp and give an "insiders" view of that. Very little is written about camp here locally, and I know Caniacs crave more news about it.

Finishing up on a different note, the "Cool Bars" party last night was a blast! The place was packed, just like I knew it would be. There was a line out the door so it was hard to meet up with everyone that I was hoping to, but I did have the pleasure of meeting WufPirate and his wife! Great folks! Cam Ward was nice enough to make an appearance for autographs. On top of that, the Canes won again! What more could a fan ask for? If you're still reading this long dissertation at this point, I thank you. Happy Hump Day!

Don Henley