According to one local sports writer, Erik Karlsson is tired. Tired because of his overall conditioning and his performance has suffered because he didn’t trained hard enough in the off-season or something. Sprinkle in a little “local boy looks primed and ready for bigger role because he worked hard over the summer” and you have a fairly standard, and at this point, expected hit piece from local sports media on Ottawa’s star player.
Karlsson shouldn’t feel alone in this treatment. Pittsburgh’s new sniper, Phil Kessel, having made his escape from the hellscape that is Leafs media this summer, was reminded last night that he has only achieve freedom in a physical sense, as the Toronto media still salivates whenever they glimpse him. No stranger to questions about his fitness, Kessel was held scoreless but had the last laugh, with his team securing the victory and a teammate’s hot dog themed Halloween costume.
Kessel and Karlsson are not the first nor the last elite players to be subject to the wrath of reporters and media types. It’s become one of the many customs of today’s NHL. Younger, creative, offensive players face a different kind of scrutiny. This is where the tiredness lies, not in strained hypotheticals about a player’s off-ice training that stretch credibility, but in the predictable, calculated, and clichéd writing and analysis which still dominates most of the popular channels. Lacking depth and insight, this type of writing is the equivalent of the Kerr’s molasses kisses candies in your kids trick or treating haul.
The fitness we need to question isn’t on the ice but instead the pages of the local papers. While it’s easy for fans to see the dubious nature of criticizing Karlsson’s training or Kessel’s alleged eating habits, the same goes for the local media. Sens fans seem mystified that local media shouldn’t be eviscerated because of their appearance. It fucking pisses me off whenever a new screen shot of Ottawa beat reporters circulates on twitter mocking the reporter’s weight, hair, or general attractiveness. Seriously, what the fuck? Why do you think this is ok? Why do you think it’s funny? It’s not. It’s Ottawa Sun-level antics. These are hockey writers who should be evaluated on hockey writing.
When I say fitness, I don’t mean health.
When I say fitness, I’m talking about writers who are up to the job of writing in today’s analytics and social media world of sports. There are a handful of reporters and writers who cover this team professionally, who take in every home game and practice, follow this team on the road, and deal with the deadlines of sports journalism. Some do their job quite well, others do not. Simply having done the job for many years does not mean you are fit to do so. Simply acting as a mouth piece for the organization does not mean your work should hold any weight with readers. Simply liking a rugged, physical style of hockey doesn’t mean your analysis is correct and will sway readers.
There are quality hockey writers out there, producing quality hockey writing. Let’s read and support them.