A few months back, it was noted both here at Raw Charge and elsewhere that Lightning ownership took a shot at bloggers in general. I won't rehash that at all. Click on those links to get the full context.
And in the last few days, Tony Gallagher's insinuations that the Tampa Bay Lightning tampered with Mattias Ohlund was picked up by others around the hockey blogosphere and on twitter. It's given firm reason why bloggers are sometimes looked at with disdain from the powers-that-be.
The only thing that has been solidly proven through tampering allegations is that stories sometimes have nothing to them except opening up comments for speculation.Gallagher's reputation is in the gutter -- quite literally -- for preaching the us-against-the-world mentality and suggesting the Canucks are helping pay for the entire league. Witness his attacks on the Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes as another example of his "work". This time around, while making accusations against Tampa Bay for signing a player the Canucks had no intention of re-signing, he does what he can to blast Tampa with every ignorant stereotype that's been rehashed for years among ultra-national, ultra-traditional elements of the hockey world: Tampa doesn't appreciate hockey, they're only getting retired Canadians to attend games, cheap tickets, etc. Why would anyone want to play there?
The problem is, Gallagher is a newspaperman with the Vancouver Province, and that means a supposed journalist. At no point in time does he attempt to get to the bottom of things by asking or investigating those involved to confirm his suspicion. He speculates and rallies the base of Canuck fans in blasting the cap, blasting the Collective Bargaining Agreement, blasting Tampa, blasting the league.
It comes off much like a politician at a campaign rally -- "Bob Smith and every member of the Pink Party eats babies and doesn't love his mother and they'll make you do the same if we let them! Stand with me and the Yellow Party and we'll love our mothers and save babies!"
Of course, the insinuations spread debate among message boards posters and commenting members on blogs, especially during an idle time like the NHL off-season. It's a question that raises debate, minus the parties involved that incited the issue in the first place.
But just why hasn't anyone tried to get answers to this question?
Has anyone contacted JP Barry, Mattias Ohlund's agent? Has anyone contacted Brian Lawton or Oren Koules in order to get a denial or statement about the accusations? What about contacting the league? Has anyone bothered to do the math and figure why the Bolts would tempt fate and announce the signing of a player as early as they did with Ohlund?
Unless, maybe, everything was conducted legitimately?
Odds are Koules can tell you "my phone didn't ring," like other 'net accusations against him or the team. No one tried to get the story (or waited for the mainstream media to pick up on it). It's so much easier just to make the claim.
Of course, part of the blogosphere is forced to voice speculation alone about issues like this, because there is no access to debunk or prove accusations like Tony Gallagher's. While some say that blogging will replace newspapers in due time and the powers-that-be need to open up an allow bloggers to partake in the process, stuff like this shows both the positive and negative of such access.
The negative: "Why would we want to enable people who brewed up this crap in the first place?"
The positive: "Access would allow crap like this to be shot down by those who seek the story first hand from those involved."
Of course, baseless speculation can draw a large amount of site traffic, and site traffic drives advertising revenue... Just ask Eklund. Just ask 24-Hour news network pundits (as it's the same with TV viewership). Why try to be legitimate and use the journalism thing and investigate the claim when you can draw eyes to an article or discussion instead?
That's why Koules phone didn't ring. And that's why the blogosphere is going to remain illegitimate for some time to come. If it's a legitimate question worth asking, why did no one try to ask those involved before jumping on the story?
For what it's worth, I passed the situation on to Lightning beat writer Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune who contacted the league office on Tuesday. Erlendsson got a denial that there was tampering involved in the Ohlund signing. Of course, this won't put things to rest... At least not until the next empty accusations come out from the Tony Gallagher's of the hockey world and shed light on the next subject of their bile.