2013: the year fancystats broke. Advanced stats, analytics, or just simple addition. subtraction, division, and multiplication made greater inroads into hockey culture than ever before which seems more impressive when you consider that executives like Tim Leiweke almost literally pray to the hockey gods. High-profile exponents like James Mirtle and Eliotte Friedman seamlessly blended traditional reporting with the new metrics to tell more accurate and instructive stories than before. But you sure wouldn't know it from these articles.
Any of the articles on this list could have been written in 1983, or 1953, their staples: unfounded assertions, appeals to authority, character assassination through aspersion, blatant old-boy club sexism, common to the worst of toy department journalism at least as far back as when Ted Williams was getting trolled every day by Dave Egan while hitting .400 (COUNT THE RINGS).
OK, maybe not the Brennan piece. I don't think Dick Young ever accused Don Drysdale of looking at his old dick.
Maybe this is a good thing. Comforting, somehow. The world may change. Hockey writing, now radically more accessible through the internet, and especially social media, has been enormously enriched by a diversity of voices , including non-white and female voices that were rarely heard in the daily-paper era. Fans can read wonderful coverage of their team from a variety of angles: analytic, comedic, historic, political, and interact with the writers in real time, unless it's Dave Lozo.
But despite this rapid change, the mittenstringers endure. They provide daily object lessons on how not to write sports, and provide a chuckle, or an-all day Twitter freak out, before we leave them, and step into the future.
The nominees are:
Don Brennan, Ottawa Sun, for "Why Is Matt Cooke So Interested in Don Brennan's Package?"
Money Quote: "I will not take this opportunity to, ahem, brag about my manhood."
Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province, for "UBC's 'Sports Targeting' in the Crosshairs"
Money Quote: "And just in case you might be holding out hope that the men might sway the obvious direction in which this is headed, they’ve already made sure that at least one of the men won’t be getting too uppity..."
Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press, for "Enough of Buff: Get Rid of Him"
Money Quote: "Byfuglien won a Stanley Cup as a complementary player with the Chicago Blackhawks. Since he's been elevated into a primary role with the franchise now known as the Winnipeg Jets, there have been no playoff games."
Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun, for "Where are the Critics of Nonis's Offseason Moves Now?"
Money Quote: "Where are the Critics of Nonis's Offseason Moves Now?"
Mark Spector, Sportsnet, for "The Heat Is On Oilers Brass"
Money Quote: "Hemsky doesn’t work on his game post-practice; he doesn’t produce during games; he is eternally injured; he is overpaid for his production. If he had signed a five-year deal instead of a two-year contract, and cared a bit more, he’d be Mikhail Grabovski."
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