The Vancouver Canucks would like to see more celebrations from Todd Bertuzzi before the season ends. (CP File Photo/Jeff McIntosh)
It has been a number of years since my curiosity got the best of me, and I asked a member of the Vancouver Canucks organization how we in the media, collectively, were perceived by a certain general manager.
My sense is that we would be painted with the same brush, that the answer would be something along the lines of "necessary evil." I was close, correct in fact with the "evil" part. But it was preceded by "unnecessary" as opposed to "necessary."
The relationship between the ink-stained wretches and pro sports teams and athletes has always been somewhat uneven.
At times it is certainly symbiotic - the team gets what amounts to free promotion and the reporter gets unlimited access to his chosen subject. But more often than not it can be adversarial - where the team takes umbrage with what it perceives as unfair coverage.
Never mind that it is free and that people read it, and their passion is fed, and they become even more interested in said team. Doesn't matter.
There is a perception, albeit misguided, that we are supposed to be more cheerleader than critic.
That point was hammered home earlier this week on the BMac and Ball morning show on the Team 1040. One of our always-insightful poll questions asked what player the Canucks had missed the most this season.
The four options were Dan Cloutier, Matt Cooke, Ed Jovanovski and Todd Bertuzzi. The implication was pretty clear, and as always, hilarious.
If you don't think so, just ask us. Tongues firmly planted in cheek, we were suggesting that even though he has been healthy, Bertuzzi - more often than not - had been missing in action this season. No great revelation.
And apparently, not well received inside the walls of Orca Bay. We were informed that it was not appreciated and that Todd would never come on our show if he knew we had posed such a poll question. We're still not sure if that was a threat or a promise. Never mind that the not-so-friendly giant has, for the most part, been given a free pass until recently by the inquiring minds.
Never mind that he plays in a market that has stood by him in the Steve Moore aftermath.
This is no bulletin, folks - TODD BERTUZZI IS UNDERACHIEVING.
And if we relate that via a poll question, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, is the message really any different?
I respect the Canucks' sensitivity, but I don't always understand it.
There are certainly times when they are the targets for some unfair broadsides. But they give us way too much credit and, in the process, undermine the people that matter most to the organization: The fans.
Because when we are berated for a question, a word, a twist of phrase, or an editorial, the message is pretty clear. The organization must believe that the readers, listeners and viewers, can't think independently enough to form their own opinions. Do we shape public opinion? Somewhat. But most people with a pulse are capable of discerning for themselves what is right and wrong with the team and/or players.
I was born in B.C. Saw my first Canuck game in November of 1970. I want them to win the Stanley Cup. I also want to keep my job. And if I go on the air, trying to put a positive spin on what Todd Bertuzzi has done this year, I lose credibility.
Hell, in some ways we have been complimenting him. I don't want his legacy to be coulda, shoulda, didn't. He should be considered the best power forward in the game. More often that not, he is nowhere near that.
And I think it's a shame. But if he turns his game around, I'll be happy to report it.
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