Winnipeg Jets: Time For Media Lap Dogs To Bite

By patti dawn swansson — 

Well, here’s a real shocker:  The Winnipeg Jets soiled the sheets—again—and Claude Noel doesn’t know why.

Claude Noel never knows why.  After most losses, the Winnipeg Jets head coach tells us he doesn’t know why his team plays the way it plays.  He tells us it’s been that way for 2 1/2 seasons now…but he doesn’t know why.

Asked Thursday night to explain his outfit’s disturbing trend of taking one step forward and two steps back, Coach Sound Bytes prattled on about this, that and the other thing before finally settling in on the very nub of the matter.

“I can’t give you the answers to why,” he conceded after a 5-2 loss to the woeful Florida Panthers.

He said that very thing a week ago and probably half a dozen times before that this National Hockey League season.  And last season. And the season before that.

So here is my question:

When will one brave member of the Royal Order of the Lap Dog (read: Winnipeg’s main stream media that tracks the Jets) address this issue?

I mean, it’s quite evident to anyone who knows a puck from pasta that there exists a serious disconnect between Noel and certain players, if not all his players.  Yet, the Milquetoast Media in River City ignores it. They don’t dare tread in that neighborhood for fear Mark Chipman might tsk-tsk them and have his communications guard dog, Scott Brown, rap their knuckles by reducing access to players and coaches.  So they quietly sit on Chipman’s lap, purring and pretending there really isn’t an elephant in the dressing room.

This, of course, is the same group of journalistic jackals who had no difficulty ravaging Joe Mack of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  Or Garth Buchko of the Bombers.  Or Gary Crowton of the Bombers.  Or any quarterback who stood behind centre last season for the Bombers.  There was no hesitancy to feed those people to the wolves because the local football heroes truly sucked and it was the popular thing to do.  GM Mack couldn’t find his own ears in a snowstorm, let alone find a starting QB.  So, hey, rip the sucker!  Cut him a new one!  Get him out of Dodge!  Ditto Buchko.  And Crowton.  Oh, and let’s not forget Mike Kelly.  The Professor made a proper ass-clown of himself while head coach of the Bombers, and the media tore into him like he was raw meat on a pit bull’s dinner dish.

So, where are these buzzards now?

Oh, that’s right, they’re sitting on Chipman’s lap, purring like kittens.  Those who aren’t on his lap are in his hip pocket, hiding.

I read an online piece about the Jets the other day in which the Winnipeg hockey media was described as “tough.”  Oh, yeah, they’re tough all right.  They’re tough like Miley Cyrus is Mother Teresa.  If Mark Chipman tells his literary lap dogs to jump, it isn’t a question of how high but, rather, how long they remain in the air.

I haven’t seen this type of misplaced worship since my days at the Winnipeg Tribune, when Ed Dearden was the Jets boot-licking beat writer.  He once called Bobby Kromm and offered to stop by the coach’s house on the way to the airport and “pick up some clean socks and clean underwear for you.”  (That’s a true story, kids.)

No member among today’s news scavengers has stooped that low (Gary Lawless has come close), but it’s time they took off the kid gloves and treated the Jets as they do the Bombers.

Look, I know what it’s like to be critical of a team, player, coach, manager or owner in print.  Been there, done that.  It can be an extremely uncomfortable and joyless bit of business to pen a piece that skewers someone then walk on to the team bus and see someone like Mario Marois, a rather miserable, surly piece of flesh, scowl and glare at you like you were beneath pond scum.  Or try taking John Bowie Ferguson to task in print then sit across the aisle from him on the ride to the rink or airport.  The smoke would be pouring from his nostrils—and he had yet to light his cigar.

I remember sitting in a hotel room in New York with Fergy, Friar Nicolson and a few others one night after I had taken issue with something Fergy had done.  He was firing lazer beams at me with eyes that burned like red coals, then jumped out of his chair and charged across the room toward me.  He looked down his gun barrel of a nose and I feared the worst.  Then he took a puff on his stogie and smiled.

“Everything you wrote was true,” he said, then turned away and went back to his scotch.

We had a favorable working relationship thereafter.

The thing is, the tough stuff sometimes must be written.  I’m not promoting the notion that news scavengers should be out digging up dirt on the Winnipeg Jets.  I’m not into that.  But they’re ignoring what is standing directly in front of them.  Someone in the Royal Order of the Lap Dog has to grow a pair and deal with the Claude Noel issue.



  1. Mitch Kasprick says

    no bite in these dogs … at least the print media.

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