Blackhawks Beat Writers Seem Reluctant to Ask Tough Questions
By Jeffrey Bartl
Before I get into this, I would like to first say I know the difficulties that come with being a beat writer for a team. I’ve done it professionally. There’s a very thin line between being accepted and being banished, and it can often be extremely hard to tight-rope that line.
Never do you want to overstep your bounds. However, you also cannot let certain things detract from your job: Bringing the public to the forefront of issues going on within the team. There’s a reason journalism is competitive in terms of being “first to report.” Every ad for a big-market journalism job, especially in sports, says candidates must have the “ability to break news and develop sources.”
It’s just the way it goes. Do your Blackhawks beat writers do a good job overall? I’d say yes. Can they go deeper and ask tougher questions? Without a doubt.
Are they afraid of being banished by John McDonough? It’s something we’ll probably never get a straight answer about.
I’ve met Chris Kuc a couple of times and think he’s a very good guy and is very knowledgeable. Same goes with Adam Jahns. I haven’t had a chance to talk with Jesse Rodgers yet, but I believe he seems to ask questions that may not always go over so well, which I commend him for doing.
McDonough doesn’t like negativity. He plays his cards right and knows when to make announcements that may come off as negative in hopes of casting positive light on the situation. His negativity force field extends to the mainstream and not-so-mainstream media, such as this site, and he controls what he wants to be discussed, or you’ll hear about it. There’s a reason bloggers aren’t allowed into the press box by the Blackhawks. That’s a team decision and doesn’t come from the NHL.
When I was making a national television appearance to discuss the National Anthem tradition, I let Jim Cornelison know I was going on TV because I had done an interview with him before for this site. He was excited I was defending the tradition to a national audience. However, he made sure to tell me not to mention I’d talked with him because, “Blackhawks employees aren’t supposed to be talking about that site.”
That spoke volumes to me, and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one that’s been cast as a villain. The beat writers have to know they’ll be included in the same bubble as I if they don’t watch their step.
It’s part of the reason there’s plenty of wondering about moves and decisions within the Blackhawks fan base. Certain questions will not and cannot be asked without backlash.
One beat writer (and one writer only with whom I’ve actually had personal interactions within the workplace, meaning I’m not discussing all beat writers here), was a former intern for the Blackhawks before he got on the beat. You have to believe McDonough gave a full-on blessing for his promotion, though I do not have direct knowledge of that.
I’d rather not devuldge the identity of the beat writer for the sake of my safety from McDonough’s goons, so I’ll let all of you try and figure that out.
Either way, do you believe that beat writer is going to start writing anything remotely negative regarding the team, even if he knew about it? That leaves me questioning whether or not I’ll ever get a less-than-favorable scoop from him. It’s a pretty damn good assumption that his stories are censored by himself and/or the Blackhawks.
That’s one of the reasons that even if a cold, stiff breeze from hell knocked me over and I was offered credentials, I wouldn’t even take them. It wouldn’t be worth becoming part of that. And if any of this I’m writing gives you a chapped ass, read the headlines this season and tell me if you see anything controversial. Columns are written as fluff pieces, and the ones that may be deemed controversial come from strictly bloggers for those papers, such as Steve Rosenbloom, or from those who don’t have to worry about seeing Blackhawks personnel on a day-to-day basis.
Now that I’ve given somewhat of a background/defense for why some of our beat writers may not be asking the questions we’re all dying to hear answers to, here’s a few I may ask before I was asked if I could fly, then thrown from the press box.
To Joel Quenneville / Stan Bowman
It seems evident that Nick Leddy is not an NHL-ready defenseman. What were the factors in deciding to burn the first year of Leddy’s contract rather than leaving him in Rockford and platooning defensemen such as Jordan Hendry and Jassen Cullimore, who essentially bring the same thing as Leddy and have similar cap hits, to preserve Leddy’s deal and develop him more in the minors?
Why was Hendry scratched for such a long period of time when he seemed to be contributing rather well? What seemed to make him more valuable as a forward rather than a defenseman? It’s been a well-known assumption that defenseman take longer to develop than forwards, so why burn the first year of Leddy’s deal rather than, say, Jeremy Morin’s, while playing Hendry at defenseman even when the team was short-handed at forward with injuries?
To Joel Quenneville / Stan Bowman
Why did Nick Boynton continue to get major minutes despite his obvious lack of contribution, and what will be his role going forward as the team makes a run at the playoffs?
To Patrick Kane
Even if we have determined these latest photos were from the summer, how many times are we going to hear from you that you need to grow up without taking action? There’s been multiple incidents since you stood behind a podium at the Olympic Camp after the Buffalo fiasco and told everyone you were embarrassed for your actions. Your numbers are down this season and people have complained you look lackadaisical on the ice at times throughout the year. When do you plan to put your words, “I’m here to play hockey,” into action?
Now that I’ve gotten the ball rolling, feel free to post in the comments what questions you would want to ask any member of the Blackhawks organization to get the answers you’re craving. There’s plenty more that I would ask, but I’d like to hear some from all of you.
Have at it!
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