This Is How You Get People To Click On Your Website: The Canadian Press and PK Subban

by Jacob Saltiel
subbanmedia

Oh hey…
from montreal.ctvnnews.ca

Yesterday an article with the title “Subban Must Accept New Rules Before Rejoining Canadiens” went up on TSN.ca.

Wow, eh? Sure sounds like the Canadiens haven’t taken an ‘all is forgiven’ approach to re-signing one of their best young players. With articles like that appearing alongside articles with titles like “No Celebrating In Habs’ Dressing Room Over Subban Signing“, you’d think that Subban ran over Bergevin’s dog or something.

The articles are attributed to The Canadian Press, but John Lu on TSN probably did the reporting, at least based on the “Moving Forward” video posted on TSN (accessible to the right of the article in the TSN video panel) where he interviewed the players.

Mixed Reactions to Mixed Reaction

Now, it’s true that the Canadian Press’ job is to create compelling stories, but it sure looks like they’re trying to manufacture a controversy where there may not be one at all. The narrative: “OH MY GOD PERNELL’S TEAMMATES HATE HIM” is much more likely to get the average hockey reader to click on their link than is “Montreal Canadiens go about their business while Subban rejoins team following lengthy contract negotiation”.

In both of the articles linked to above, the headlines don’t even correspond to the content that follows. The phrase ‘mixed reaction’ means that some people approve and some people don’t. In fact, in examining the article, it’s not so much a case of ‘mixed reactions’ as it is a case of players not wanting to discuss someone who isn’t there. As Markov said: “He’s not in the room yet, so let’s talk about it when he’s going to be in the room.” Ryan White, meanwhile, said “It’s a relief” and Lars Eller is quoted at the very bottom of the article as saying “A player of P.K.’s calibre is always welcome in the lineup.” Gorges’ comments about never having played with a player who held out before and taking a wait and see approach are non-committal, rather than explicitly disapproving. So, since no one actually said that they were unhappy to see Subban back, the phrase ‘mixed reaction’ quite simply does not apply here. The meanest thing anyone said about Subban was reported on Hockeyinsideout.com: “When someone suggested to Lars Eller that P.K. wanted to be known as The Subbanator, the Danish forward replied: “We’re going to call him Pernell.”A more accurate headline might have read “CANADIENS REFUSE TO POP BOTTLES OF VEUVE CLIQUOT AT SUBBAN CONTRACT SIGNING”. Had that been the headline, and had the Canadian Press entered the dressing room and failed to find this, this, or evidence of this happening, it would be accurate.

The Rules Are Up On the Fridge Door

The other article, about Subban accepting new rules, is silly. Considering that the Canadiens brought in a new general manager and coach in the offseason, do you know who else had to “accept new rules before re-joining the Canadiens?” If your answer was “EVERY SINGLE PLAYER, PROSPECT, AND EMPLOYEE” then your answer was correct. That’s generally what happens when any organization changes management, but The Canadian Press would have you believe that Subban is somehow different. The headline would only be meaningful if the reporter had some quotation or source indicating that Subban would get back in the lineup when he agreed to wear a full-caged helmet, or only use one skate in practices and games from now on.

The TSN article has no reference to anything of this type, only vague statements about the team’s philosophy:

“The first thing Marc Bergevin and I did was sit down with (Subban) and explain our philosophy and he understood where we’re coming from,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “It was a good, honest conversation with P.K. and we just want to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Oh, really? Therrien had a sit-down with a player who, until now, wasn’t under contract to explain his coaching philosophy? OH DON’T HIT THAT BLOGPOST BUTTON YET! In both cases, the headlines above are cynically designed to get angsty-Habs fans to click on the articles and then go Edvard Munch’s The Scream on one another.

Look, it may be the case that Subban is an awful person and worse teammate, but to print this in an official media outlet would require, uhm, facts, right? When an anonymous player on the Canadiens goes on record stating that Subban is never invited to team birthday parties, that’ll be news. Or, hey, shouldn’t there be an answer to the question “why?” in these articles somewhere? Why might his teammates and managers be so pissed at him? Is that clearly mentioned anywhere? Is it even speculated about? There must be some form of telepathic mind-reading going on that the writer isn’t at liberty to divulge. Based on the quotations gleaned from conversations with the actual players involved, very little has actually been said that supports the main arguments of the two posts.

Until these questions are answered and supported by evidence, these types of articles will remain unpersuasive and not far removed from simple mudslinging. There may still be a story worth reporting here, but the articles posted above are poor examples of what fans should be reading on the matter.

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