Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I've pulled Habs Future from Hockey Inside/Out

For those of you who were not aware, I recently had to make a difficult decision. Following the great controversy surrounding the Gazette's Patrick Hickey and an article he wrote and was published on December 13th about retired NHL great Theo Fleury and his history with his abuser Graham Jones, I became quite outraged over what was written.

The backlash was immediate, with courageous and heartfelt words, read them for yourself.

@Metricjulie's open letter to Patrick Hickey.

@Lissa77 had a response of her own.

Lissa further expanded later on what followed after she wrote her piece.

This was all followed by what I personally considered a rather disastrous set of radio interviews on the day of publication. The first by Patrick Hickey's editor for the Gazette sports section, Stu Cowan who I held a rather low opinion of already for some poor journalism on his part writing about the Canadiens. Suffice to say, his defence of Hickey sunk my opinion of him to a subterranean depth. Insinuating that the Gazette had heard both support and derision for Hickey's column was rather disingenuous on his part, being plugged into social media is not a perfect barometer but one can hardly say Hickey had even 5% public support behind him on this.

Hickey followed this up with a pair of radio interviews himself. First, he ducked a possible interview on Toronto Sports Radio Fan 590 which now I understand, the hosts were not happy with what he'd wrote and were not likely to softball him on questions. What Hickey decided to do instead was take an interview on Toronto's TSN 1050 radio, where he received a far more comfortable interview. Not that he didn't still manage to shoot himself in the foot, while that foot was in his mouth. The quote "Victims sometimes have to take responsibility for their actions." is the kind of thing we've come to expect from the sexual predators who argue "they were asking for it" by how the victim dressed.

Hickey took a second interview later on Montreal's TSN 990 with top local radio personality Mitch Melnick. Suffice to say, Hickey again decided to show his complete ignorance on the matter. "Theo Fleury deserves our sympathy but not our respect." Also in the interview, he attempted to twist the words of @metricjulie to sound as if she supported him and was completely dismissive to another victim of sexual abuse, @tricolore who bravely took to the radio waves to challenge Hickey. Melnick took a tough interview and did not allow his past relationship with Hickey to make it easy on him and is to be commended for it.

Also joining in the fray was Habs Eyes On the Prize with their own take, including a testimonial in the comments sections by @tricolore under the name Daniel Bigras, it's the 3rd comment after the article.

One of the first reactions to the article that I read though was Kevin Van Steendelaar, editor of the Habs Eyes on the Prize blog posted to Hockey Inside/Out. Kevin stated that unless there was a retraction or apology regarding Patrick Hickey's work he would never post there again I was inspired. Kevin was absolutely right, he didn't want to be associated with a subsidiary site of the Gazette that would promote such poor reporting and unenlightened views and I was in agreement with him. While I am aware Habs Future is a very minor part of Hockey Inside/Out, it is mine, I take the time every week to do my research, collect every player report I can and compile a complete report on which Canadiens prospects are leading in performance. I have my ethics about these matters and simply, I no longer wish to be associated with a publication that would approve, promote and defend what Patrick Hickey has written of late. I had become accustomed to them using Jack Todd to stir up controversy and sell papers, but Hickey's caustic remarks of late are not something I can tolerate. The Habs Future piece that covered the prospects from December 5th t0 11th was the final Habs Future that will ever be published at Hockey Inside/Out.

I will always thank Habitant in Surrey, the poster who while not a very popular man in the Hockey Inside/Out community was instrumental for campaigning Mike Boone to give me some space to prepare a prospects report. I thank Mike Boone for the opportunity he gave me and have already sent him a private letter concerning my views and desire to remove myself from Hockey Inside/Out following the controversy. He has been very understanding and thanked me for my contributions to date and respects my decision. I should firmly state that without these two men inspiring me to write my blog, you probably would never have heard of me and I wouldn't know half of what I know now about prospects and player development.

Since I made my announcement, I would like to thank several reputable Habs blogging networks for making offers to host Habs Future. Based on some prior relationships and past offers I elected to join the excellent blogging community that is All Habs. Starting December 19th, I will begin publishing what will now be known as Catching the Torch.

I'd never really been in love with the title Habs Future, it was a decent enough title but it lacked imagination in my opinion. Anyone who holds even a modicum of knowledge about the team knows the line in the Habs locker room room "To You From Failing Hands We Throw The Torch Be Yours To Hold It High." Hence the title, these young men I track are expected to be the next Habs so it is very much upon them to take up the torch as they arrive in Montreal. This is not an attempt to destroy all links to Hockey Inside/Out, I just felt like it was time to update the title to something I felt had a more thoughtful tone.

I would like to thank Rick Stephens, Editor-in-Chief of All Habs for this new opportunity I am embarking upon and look forward to joining the passionate group of writers that populate All Habs.

In the future, you can expect all my writing content to come through All Habs so this is essentially a retirement of "Habs and Hockey" as well, but the page shall remain intact. I've composed several pieces I am particularly proud of so I see no need to close the blog down entirely. This decision was never easy, but no decision of consequence should be so I stand firm in my belief that this was the right choice. Thank you to everyone who supported my stance on this issue as well but I am just a blogger who stood on principle in the end, people like @metricjulie and @tricolore are the true heroes in this.


  1. Congrats, Robert. You are to be commended for your conviction and resolution to do what you feel is right.

    I'm very much looking forward to reading your work on Rick's site.

  2. Welcome aboard Robert! Great post.

  3. We're proud to have you on the All Habs team.

  4. Well, the take-away for me is you were able to do what you felt was right, and that's always a good thing.

    On a more personal note, thanks for the mention(s) in your post. It's always nice to get some support.

    You know what sucks? That people can't just own up and say "You know what? I'd never thought about/looked at it that way. I was way off." I'd totally understand, appreciate and respect that.

    Ah, well.

    Thanks for helping to create safe spaces for victims, survivors and their loved ones to feel accepted and begin to heal.


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