16 December 2010

An Open Letter to the CBC

Dear CBC,
During the first period of the Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins game tonight, Canadiens defenceman PK Subban delivered a clean and crushing body check to Bruins forward Brad Marchand. The hit, as noted above, was perfectly clean - after the play concluded several Bruins players wanted to fight Subban, who was not interested and skated away. He made a hockey play, and that should have been the end of it.

However, the CBC commentators during the intermission decided that the play was deserving of considerable discussion targeting Subban and essentially calling him a coward for not fighting. Not surprisingly, Mike Milbury and PJ Stock were most vociferous in their condemnation of not only Subban, but of another Canadiens player, Max Lapierre, an agitator whose role is to get under the skin of his opponents. These are two men that have often railed against what they call the "pansification" of hockey, yet when a player makes a big hockey play, they condemn him for not doing something illegal that is penalized by a major penalty. They thus picked up on the long-running theme of another CBC commentator, Don Cherry, in proclaiming that Subban does not have any respect for his fellow players, and needs to earn the respect of not only his opponents but his own teammates. They didn't proclaim, as Cherry has, that somebody is "going to get him" but they continued the ongoing theme targeting Subban.

What do all three of PJ Stock, Mike Milbury, and Don Cherry have in common? They are all former members of the Boston Bruins. To have these people commenting on anything to do with the Montreal Canadiens lacks credibility because their bias is heavily pronounced and hardly concealed. The CBC prides itself on journalistic integrity and fairness; these men do not have any semblance of fairness when it comes to discussing the Montreal Canadiens.

As a Canadiens fan, I have for years had to endure listening to Cherry slagging my favourite team without a balancing voice. Canadiens games are, on those occasions that they are shown on Hockey Night in Canada, often called by Bob Cole - Canada's most famous Toronto Maple Leafs fan. I am just old enough to remember a time that the legendary Dick Irvin Jr. was on the broadcast team during HNIC to call Canadiens games. One could tell that he actually liked the team, unlike many of his colleagues that are products of other organizations that have been the Canadiens' rivals over the course of many decades. However, he was moved off the broadcast team, and ever since there has been a noticeable imbalance in broadcasting whenever the Canadiens have been featured on CBC.

I'm a reasonable person. I don't think it's necessary that the CBC should hire a pro-Canadiens cheerleader to add pro-Canadiens comments to the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. However, what was once mildly amusing has become incredibly irritating; while Cherry is and remains a caricature, his calls for somebody to "get" Subban has sparked a dangerous trend that has been picked up by his colleagues on the program. Subban is a young and exciting player that is respected by his teammates and loved by many Canadiens fans. To hear somebody calling for him to be injured is despicable. I am beyond frustrated listening to Coach's Corner and the other intermission panels. Indeed, even though I am almost entirely unilingual and speak only a small amount of French, I often turn to the French channel RDS and leave it there not only during the game but also the intermissions. I would rather practice my diminished second language skills than listen to anti-Canadiens propaganda spoken in my first language. I think that many of my fellow Canadiens fans would agree with my sentiment that something must be done to restore a degree of balance to the HNIC broadcasts.

Richard McAdam


ridenrain said...

Wow.. Way to get back at Rob Ford.

Kmaxx said...

Well Said! Unlike what we have to endure during the broadcasts, this was very well balanced, thoughtfully constructed and completely accurate. Very nice!

A Gy said...

Why does CBC have a hard on for thick headed Bruins?? It was impossibly frustrating to watch them attack the Habs last night, when they should have been talking about a strong first period, and a Bruins team that seems to be getting tired. Too bad that Lapierre scored a goal? Why because he didn't fight Thornton? Or the fact that Subban didn't fight Carcillo or Marchand after delivering a LEGAL hit? For a good panel watch TSN. They criticize the Habs when they deserve to be criticized and point to real aspects of the game. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Wow...interesting but i stopped reading after u said u were a montreal fan...or a laffs fan they are the same thing actually...

Anonymous said...

Greetings Mr. McAdam,

I read your excellent "Open letter to CBC" on Hockey Inside Out and I fully agree with you.

The CBC and Coach's Corner has no value what so ever in today's NHL and what the true fans of hockey at any level in Canada want to see for their hard earned Canadian dollars being spent on a National Broadcaster and being made fools of because hockey is a Man's game, head shots and fighting go hand in hand and it's the great entertainment value for those who have no clue what true skills, such as skating, passing and shooting on the net is all about- thus being a true team player, no instead we are told that " Being Macho " and sucking it up is the way to go and not being a soft "Euro player" as Don "The Cherry" Grapes thinks and tells us, that it (still) should be that way in the 2011-2012 hockey season and if you don't like it, go watch figure skating...same old fool with the same old tired comments-

Did we not leave the Broad Street Bullies behind already? Will today's NHL player go the same route as one Eric Lindos after he had suffered several concussions (brain trauma ) and will the old fool on CBC's Coach's Corner be happy with that result and tell us, the paying hockey fans, that it's part of the game of hockey being physical in contacts and
making big hits ( especially to the head ) while fighting is "Macho"!

I refuse to accept it. I like you and many others have added my voice to call out the dysfunctional media of today's Sports and the commentators who have nothing really intelligent to say and should really be more informed like the true hockey fans are that a player's safety, like any employed employee should be the number one concern for all involved in any professional sport. If you had a fist fight at work, would you not be hauled off to jail for hitting your colleague in the face or on the street, what about in a bar? Would that not be a physical assault on the other person? Are head shots not intended to injure
the other player? Or just change the tempo of the game? Are we not a civilized society any more?

I like to think that we can make good decisions, starting with questioning what is going on in today's NHL and what changes can be made in Canada for the game of hockey at all levels, to enforce, I can't think of any other word for it, to enforce a higher stander of safety for all hockey players on the ice and to enjoy the game more as participants and fans of the game of hockey.

Kudos to you, for being pro-active and showing that you really do care about the state of hockey as it is now and to voice your opinion for a changing of the guard and to make hockey safer.

Thank you


RGM said...

Thanks very much for the nice words. Here's to hoping that we can get some change to the game and get player safety at the top of the agenda.