Oliver Stone will be proud of this article.
The Canadian Media is a funny bunch. While I am sure the vast majority or sports columnists in hockey mad Toronto are fine upstanding journalists.
Then there are the others.
The agenda pushing Canadian writers that are trying to sabotage what should be a celebration, a graduation of Canada's next hockey superstar graduating to the NHL level this time with the New York Islanders.
Let us look at this theory a little closer.
John Tavares is the best player not in the NHL right now. This is a fact that some would have debated back when he was just 16 years old and already a veteran in the OHL. John Tavares is still the top prospect in this years draft despite what some extreme viewpoints have been circling around the web in recent weeks have said especially since the Toronto Maple Leafs dumped their entire season in the laps of Jason Blake, Tomas Kaberle and Vesa Toskala trying tried to obtain the No. 1 Pick using the Pittsburgh Penguin method.
That plan failed and the Leafs wound up with the No. 7 pick.
Now the methods have turned more direct and more nefarious.
The Canadian Media knew long ago that Tavares would not likely go to the Leafs being the Islanders, Lightning and Avalanche were so far below them in the standings.
The efforts to sabotage whoever got that No. 1 Pick came early when a report on TSN stated that The Islanders did not deserve Tavares, and the source for that story tried to start a campaign to get to JT early and convince him not to sign with the Islanders if and when the Islanders select him.
That failed as Tavares has publicly stated that he will not "Eric Lindros" the team that selects him.
Across the board, Tavares has been regarded as the consensus No. 1 pick and it was a no brainer he was going No. 1.
This past season when it became apparent the Leafs had no shot at the No. 1 pick, some scouting reports all of a sudden were spotting holes in Tavares' game. Spotty reports had the gap between Tavares and the rest of the field was getting smaller. Reports abounded that Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman was all of a sudden challenging Tavares for that No. 1 spot and got the "Next Chris Pronger" label attached to him.
Chris Pronger? Seriously? This is coming from a group that said while yes Hedman's size and speed were remarkable for a guy his size he needed to step up the physical aspect of his game because he was to soft. I am not trying to deny Hedman is a fine prospect but the fact of the matter is he probably has more in common with Kenny Jonsson than he does with Chris Pronger.
Now we have to look at the "Red Line Report" which in my mind now has lost all credibility where is states in no uncertain terms that John Tavares is now the third top prospect in the 2009 draft. They called him one dimensional. They called him self entitled. They even called him spoiled.
Here is what else the Red Line Report had to say about the top 3 prospects in this draft, 6 weeks after a February 19th, 2009 USA Today article written by Woodlief had Tavares the No. 1 prospect.
The made the Hedman/Pronger comparison which in my mind is utterly ridiculous. I am surprised they didn't throw in Niklas Lidstrom as a comparative note to him also.
They went on to say that Matt Duchene was a better center prospect than Tavares and went so far as to say that he reminds him of Steve Yzerman, stating that Duchene was unselfish and had was a more complete player.
I have seen interview upon interview. I have read articles dating back to when Tavares was 15. Not once was it written that any of the above was a concern. The only criticism of his game was his skating, which was remedied when he targeted that in off season work outs. John Tavares has the potential to be an offensive dynamo. 40-50 goals? 110 points? They should be within reach. Woodlief readily admits that even after bashing Tavares.
Now less than 2 months before the draft and 5 years after they changed the rules in the OHL to allow him to be drafted at 14, and a failed attempt to change the NHL rules in 2008 allowing him to be drafted last season he is number 3, according to the Red Line Report.
Sorry, but i can feel this agenda from a mile away. Certain media pundits are trying to drive Tavares' value down!
Because they know the only way the Islanders will either trade the pick, or allow him to go number 2 where Burke can trade a pack of draft picks and Tomas Kaberle to Tampa Bay for the number 2 pick where he can claim the prize he admitted was his target from the beginning.
How else can we explain the sudden decline in a small fraction of opinions in Tavares' value?
Greg Logan and Newsday should be ashamed of themselves by dignifying that report with a full page article and making it seem to the untrained eye that it contains even a iota of merit.
But who is Newsday owned by? Thats right they are owned by Cablevision which you guessed it, owns the New York Rangers.
Think Jim Dolan is above petty tactics? Maybe.. Maybe Not.
Brian Burke is a very smart man. He is going to do everything in his power to try and get John Tavares in the blue and white of the Toronto Maple Leafs this coming June 26th.
The Toronto fans are rabid for a winner. This is arguably the biggest hockey market in the world. The Leafs have been an embarrassment as an organization over the last 40 years. They have all the money any organization could need, they have a sparkling new arena, they have a tremendously passionate fan base and they have media attention that would make Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie feel bad for them.
The media drives the fans trying to sell papers and get web hits. In effect, the media takes advantage of fans in any market in order to "push their product."
Rarely have I seen a writer subject to blatant tampering of a player which make no mistake is what has been attempted.
The Toronto fans and the great city of Toronto are not to blame. I have been to Toronto 3 times on vacation and I will go back gladly. the people are hockey mad, friendly and will talk hockey at any time. Its the Toronto media and to a greater extent the media in general that is to blame.
Who knows, maybe the Toronto Sun has a nice cushy job laid out for Kyle Woodlief if Tavares somehow winds up in Toronto.
Maybe, Maybe Not.