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Hockey Buzz? - BUZZ OFF!!!

To be blunt - I hate hockey trade rumours!

People who write them assume that people who read them are dunces - plain and simple.

Trade rumours are created for the gullible sports fan, those susceptible to believing that there is in fact a source, who upon hearing of transactions brewing, will run to call their media favorite scribe, sports call in show, or annonymous blogger, and report the slightest ripple of innuendo.

Give your head a shake! It just doesn't happen that way.

If I'm bringing this up now, it has much to do with blogger credibility, and pieces that have been written here, here, and here concerning it.

So called "hockey insiders", is a totally misunderstood term - misused in fact. An insider would refer to a person of employ inside an organization. Persons of such priveledge would never divulge priveledged information to sources that would immediatly leak half truths to media outlets.

Montreal Canadiens financial adviser Julien Brisebois would be a hockey insider - Bob Gainey's right hand man when dealing with the intricacies of contract negotiations. I fully doubt someone of the like needs the meager bucks a scripe would forward to pay for a snippet of behind the scenes knowledge.

General managers, team scouts, and anyone involved in a player transaction process, from financial advisors to player agents, are pretty much sworn to dealing in secrecy.

Seldom is this truth deviated from, and for many reasons. Agents will offer up the odd slice about a particular client, but they aren't sitting in with the GM's as they phone 29 other teams.

I say seldom, because GM's may tell each other what other teams are looking at, who they are offering up and who they called asking about. In all the years I have read about potential trades, it hasn't occured often that any of them came true.

Hockey players on the trade market are always an obvious collection of underperformers, brooding stars, and soon to be free agents. With those notions as a staring point, anyone can make anything up that can sound reasonably sensible.

In order to protect the integrity of a possible trade, there is a practical code of silence among GM's that respects the lives involved, families, sometimes wives and children, not to mention that player evaluations between teams competing for an on the market player can jeopardize the potential return value on a player.

If a player is rumoured to have been offered league wide, the return has just bottomed out.

Simply put, GM's just don't feed sources. The sources don't feed the media. Most media trade hacks simple make the bull up.

Whenever I see any writer, be it in print or in a blog, suggest a trade is brewing, their credibility, in my eyes, takes a substancial hit.

This was how I saw it in 1989 when Al Strachan, who ought to know better, suggested that the Canadiens were willing to part with Claude Lemieux and Shayne Corson, sending both to the Leafs in exchange for Wendel Clark.

Al Strachan is an excellent writer. On occasion he redeems himself, but I can never truly forgive that piece of blatant pandering to the lowest form of hockey gossip readers.

For perspective, Lemieux and Corson were both under 25 at the time. With their contributions, the Canadiens reached the finals in '89, losing the Cup to the Flames. That season, Clark had played but 15 solid games with the Leafs, due to mounting injuries that were a concern at the time. Nevermind that a one for one trade would have been a risky proposition, Strachan saw fit to print that Habs GM Serge Savard, a cautious and patient man, was set to pull the trigger on this doozy.

Of course it never did happen. It was never even real.

What was true, was that the Canadiens upper management (read team president Ronald Corey) were not pleased with the off ice conduct of three players in particular, Lemieux, Corson and Chris Chelios.

Now to take a grain of truth and stretch it to such extremes doesn't take much imagination.

Look around the league today at overpaid players who underperform and make up your own rumour. You don't need to be Einstein or Sam Pollock to realize it's quite easy to formulate your own, somewhat truthful looking rumour.

Next time you read about a trade that you find believable, think about it for a second. Is it believable because you can understand it. Is it more belivable now that someone has printed it.

Each week I get a kick out reading Bruce Garrioch's columns in the Sun media. Actually I skip through them quite quickly. What I do is count the inferences to sources. It makes me ragingly indignant, but it's all just a joke. You'd get the idea Garrioch's cell rings constantly with info the remainder of the hockey world doesn't have. It's as if many people, call them hockey insiders if you want, can't quite contain themselves, and have an almost fatal need to jeopardize their own job by putting their career on the line just to ring up someone as irreputable and dubious as Garrioch and spew forth to him the latest trade rumblings.

What Garrioch is doing on a hockey beat, I don't know. He has no hockey insight whatsoever and reads as thought he has never played the game. His renderings in the Ottawa Sun are almost devoid of any constructive criticism. He's the ultimate homer, waiting for Harry Neale's job.

His columns are peppered with lines that start like, "sources are saying", "whispers are", "an insider has said", "word around is" and "talk suggests".

Of course he won't compromise that source or name anyone outright because it would expose him as the liar he is. If you don't trust your politicians, and look sideways at the used car dealer who just just scammed you, why trust the trade rumour mongerer, who never has to face you.

I use Garrioch as my example, as he is the one I am most familiar with. He has essentially replaced Strachan on the Sun chain rumour mill. He makes himself irrelevant weekly by not having an ounce of scruples. Behind the scenes, even his cohorts mock him.

Earlier this week, a Garrioch headlined column stated that the Bruins Brad Stuart would be imminently dealt. No kidding! The whole world knew that Stuart would not resign in Boston. It was no scoop. In fact, the paper actually went to press likely an hour after the trading of Stuart was made with Calgary.

Any reader waking up that morning would assume Garrioch has one hell of a good crystal ball. It would seemingly give him the ounce of credibility he will never otherwise attain. More than likely, most readers might not have known the trigger on the deal had already been pulled.

Nice try!

As we approach this years trade deadline in two weeks time, keep in mind that most of what you will be reading is about as credible as the National Enquirer.

You might recall that last season's biggest blockbuster, Joe Thornton to San Jose, occurred with out a hint of a whisper. Think about that while you ponder each trade scenario you are baited with in the next 13 days.

Keep score, just for fun! Of the hundred rumours fed by sources, two might actually happen. If you translated that to a hockey stat, let's say shooting percentage, that player would be scoring at a 0.02 rate.

And he'd be sent to the minors!