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Last word on the fabled Islanders-Kovalchuk bid

Ilya Kovalchuk agent Jay Grossman's version of interest from the Islanders as part of a Summer of Ilya postmortem in the Sporting News [emphasis mine]:

On reports of an offer from the Islanders: "They inquired. They called, we had some discussions. They had to get to the floor, obviously. We had a number of calls of that type of nature, with teams that would have been interested if we were interested in a specific kind of contract. Our objection going in was to put Kovy in one place for the remainder of his career."

Sure doesn't sound like they were "hot and heavy" for a $100 million deal, right? Sounds more like the kind of shorter-term, floor-reaching deal that gave Ilya the chance to re-test the market when conditions were better -- the kind of deal we theorized about up and down this site?

As I recall, on record Garth Snow actually downplayed his involvement -- contrary to what an excitable, sometimes prone-to-hyperbole Western Conference beatwriter wrote this week at Versus:

More than you can say for the jumble of dysfunction that is the New York Islanders front office. The Isles were used as the beard in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes, willingly going along with published reports that they were hot and heavy to hand him more than $100 million. But the Isles seemingly had no more of a firm commitment to do that than I do of taking a [lame cultural joke omitted due to unforgivable resurrection of Toto references].

There was one -- maybe two -- original report of the fabled $100M offer that Adrian Dater says the Islanders were "going along with hot and heavy." Everyone else simply relayed that report, including us on this here blog since it was obvious discussion fodder.

(As a mere hobbyist, I try to stay out of public MSM vs. blogger spats -- blogging being an interactive medium for writing and discussion, a medium that writers, reporters, philosophers, and anyone else can (and do) use. But I chuckle when MSMers whine about "bloggers" using dubious information, when MSMers run with dubious info every July 1 and early March. Credibility is in the writer, not the medium.)

Rewind to July and what actually saw the light of published, sourced reports, and you find Garth Snow conceded his involvement but was hot and heavy about nothing, telling Newsday:

"Over the last couple of days I've made maybe a hundred calls and explored options where, maybe it doesn't come to fruition, but I'm not doing my job if I don't make those calls."

So where did the "hot and heavy" come from? (Hot and heavy for Ilya? Maybe. For $100 million? I've yet to see the evidence.) If someone with the Isles was passing along B.S., shouldn't a reporter be more explicit when griping about that two months later as if it's objective reality? Isn't the best way to counteract B.S. sources to call them out explicitly? This is what I don't get about mainstream reporters who run with the "unnamed source" game when it's good for their own attention, then piss and moan about it afterward. Isn't the purpose of access to get to the truth -- or does that access compromise access to the truth, too?

Seriously, if someone with the Isles was dangling the false $100 million story bait, I'd want to know. If Dater has evidence of "front-office dysfunction," let's hear it. And please let it not involve the name "Milbury," who last worked on the hockey side in early 2006.


The Burden of Sourcing

To be fair, I normally trust agents far less than I trust excitable reporters who just returned from vacation to give us their version of what happened before they left. Agents like Grossman always have their clients' interests first (okay, maybe commission first, client second). But Grossman doesn't seem to have an incentive to downplay the Isles' interest now, after the fact. And Dater's "Five Burning Questions" column at Versus reads like any old online snarky-for-provocation hockey commentary -- the kind that MSM reporters are supposed to be above, because, you know, only bloggers do that.

In truth, I greatly respect veteran reporters like Helene Elliot, the L.A. Times reporter who cited an unnamed source for the Islanders big-money involvement. (Darren Dreger also was in on that, though it's unclear where it generated.) I know beat writers are still the last drip of lifeblood of objective info for most fans. I've no doubt some source -- whether with the league, the player or the club -- spread some version of that "as much as" $100 million theory, for whatever ulterior motives (For the team? For the player? For the "insider juice" of the source itself? For the sheer comedy of watching everyone run wild with it?). Alas, no one did it on the record.

If reporters want to pine about the legitimacy of the unnamed sources they routinely use, maybe they should stop using them.

Here's the thing: Responsible publishers of any medium relay (and cite) the claims made by hardworking members of the mainstream media. Personally, I trust them not to make crap up, and I expect them not to gloss over details. So if there was a source out there deliberately misleading reporters into thinking there was a $100 million offer, I understand why said source's anonymity was protected -- at first. But if such a now-proven-dubious source exists, and if they burned you, you no longer have reason to protect them now nor trust them in the future, right? Shouldn't you out them -- and maybe score a blow against such misdirection in the future?

In other words, shouldn't you call bullshit on the source itself -- and not on the team? Unless the source is with the team ... in which case you should make that connection clear?

Otherwise, you're just reporting what others said and adding snarky commentary. Just like bloggers do.