It's very unusual to see an NHL team issue full disclosure on player injuries and the term and dollar amount on new contracts. Is this an aberration or are teams making a move to the enlightened side? We'll have to wait and see.
Getting a press release from the Calgary Flames is like rolling back the clock a decade or two. When they sign a player, they include term and dollar value. When they issue an injury update, they include details. At least they did this time.
Don’t they know they’re not supposed to be forthright? Why on earth are they being so transparent? Are they unaware of the expression, “as per club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed?” And what about the concern that other teams will now target the returning player’s sore spot?
Don’t answer the above questions. They’re both sarcastic and rhetoric. And they’ve been developing for quite a few years. That’s because NHL team information of this millennium has devolved into a collection of bare facts, blinged up with platitudes, clichés and truisms.
Back when I started at The Hockey News in the early 1990s, NHL teams and correspondents issued injury reports that included the precise ailment and the length of time the player was expected to miss. When we published that information in the magazine, we’d put all the details in print. If Jari Gronstrand strained his groin Nov. 1 and was expected to miss six weeks, we’d have his target return date of mid-December. In many cases with a limb injury, we would hunt down whether it was the left or right.
It was glorious full disclosure. The paying customer had all the information.
Then someone figured out that teams were going after a player’s sensitive injury area upon their return from sickbay. How’s that for respect in the game? So then we started into the business of upper body and lower body injuries. In time, that got dumbed down to either a day-to-day injury or placement on injured reserve with who knows what. Unless we saw exactly what happened with the player getting hurt – like the broken right shin of Steven Stamkos – it was left to speculation.
That lack of information bothered me greatly. To me it was akin to shelling out good money to see a live show, then finding out later in my seat that someone else is playing the lead role of phantom of the opera. My associates in the media were OK with the upper body/lower body nonsense and in a way I understood why teams became secretive. Concussion awareness in recent seasons made that even more acute.
But you’d never see this trend develop in the NFL because gambling and game odds plays such a big role in every encounter.
It’s a similar beef with the press releases on players signing contracts. Most teams opt for the “as per team policy” cop out. Don’t they realize term and dollar amount are the only new pieces of information fans care about? Some teams do, like the Flames, and I appreciate that progressive approach. Salary disclosure has been around for 20 years now and the whole world is going to find out soon enough. So make the jump to the enlightened side.
Thank-you Calgary Flames for setting a good example. And sorry about all those injuries.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN