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When bad stories are spread by good bloggers

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

When I look for news and opinions on the Philadelphia Flyers, there are several sources I trust.  Tim Panaccio of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Daily News.  John Boruk of Comcast SportsNet.  Bill Meltzer of Hockeybuzz.com and NHL.com.  These men focus on the Flyers and the NHL full-time.  They not only know the team, they know the sport.  They’re qualified to write and express independent views about its happenings.

So when I see a Flyers article by Sam Donnellon, a decorated sports writer for the Daily News who typically covers the Phillies, I skip it.  That’s how I missed the string of thoughts he released this morning, contending that the NHL is rigging calls to ensure that the lone Canadian team standing in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs survives until the Finals.  And if some prominent hockey bloggers had not chosen to post Donnellon’s blog – feeding anti-Flyer trolls everywhere – I still wouldn’t have read the article.

The bloggers in question?  James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail.  Kukla’s Korner.  And Mike Ross of XM Radio and Hockeybuzz.com.  All are credible, knowledgeable, intelligent hockey writers.

I forgive them for not realizing that Donnellon is the most dangerous type of hockey commentator.  He knows enough about hockey to create a seemingly plausible argument yet not enough to compose an insightful hockey opinion.  Flyers fans know this – check out the comments section of Mike Ross’s blog.  And anyone who didn’t know about Donnellon – the opening sentence where he refers to Hatcher as the Flyers’ best defenseman in the playoffs should have tipped you off.

It’s fatiguing to continually watch journalists target the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans.  Apparently we’re the whipping boys for the NHL, the press, and other hockey fans.  Look at the constant barage of articles on the so-called return of the Broad Street Bullies.  Anyone who experienced a real 1970s-era Flyers game realizes that the current squad doesn’t even approach the level of intimidation and violence exacted by players like Dave Schulz, Bob “the Hound” Kelly, Don Saleski, and others.  Just check out these brawls from a game at Maple Leaf Gardens.

As for the fans, how many times can people refer to the incident where Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus?  It’s too easy and too simple to brand Flyers hockey and its followers as violent miscreants and neaderthals who don’t appreciate or understand the beauty of skillful players.

Donnellon’s whining does not accurately represent the beliefs of the Flyers faithful.  We didn’t believe the league was attempting to ensure a second round Washington-Pittsburgh series.  We don’t believe the league is trying to promote at least one Canadian team to the Conference Finals.  Our only conspiracy thoery – outside of any attached to Sidney Crosby – is that the entire world roots against the Philadelphia Flyers and its city.

And when everyone obsesses about the Flyers’ supposedly dirty style or the fans’ conspiracy theories 24/7, it begins to feel as though that conspiracy may have legs.

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