When reporting on hockey, can people just make up their minds?

by Adam Kovac

I’m not going to talk about Marc Bergevin’s hiring as the new GM of the Montreal Canadiens. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge hockey fan, but that’s all I am. I’ve never played at a level above house league. I have no idea what the inner workings of an NHL dressing room are. I’ve never covered sports, except a couple of Concordia Stingers games, and let’s face it, a game summary is barely reporting. I know almost nothing about what Bergevin’s jobs as a scout, executive or assistant GM for the Chicago Blackhawks involved.

So I’m not really in a position to say whether this guy is going to be awesome, or if he’s going to be a catastrophe. All I know is, the way that management and coaching changes in professional sports are generally covered by the media are hilariously contrary.

Take Bergevin. Apparently, he was somewhat of a prankster during his time in the NHL. Great, he’s got a sense of humour, seems like a nice guy, I’d like to grab a beer with him sometime. But that’s become the major net positive of his hiring, the key to the whole narrative that is being constructed. Don’t believe me? Read this. And this. And this. Three different outlets, and they all mention Bergevin’s reputation as a prankster. So, the guy likes putting shaving cream in people’s shoes. What does that have to do with being able to judge talent?

This isn’t a shot at Bergevin, this is a complaint about how these things get covered, because it happens every single time someone gets a high profile job in sports. The media focuses on one particular personality trait, and then writes about how that trait is a positive. Hell, we saw that with Bergevin’s predecessor, Pierre Gauthier two years ago. My memory might be slipping, but at the time, Gauthier’s quiet and secretive nature were hailed as positives. As people clammered for him to be (rightfully) shitcanned, those attributes were cited as the reason why the Habs sucked so badly this year.

So is it better to be mercurial? Jovial? Homicidal? Does that stuff really matter?

You can spin a person’s personality traits however you want. But trying to base predictions of a hockey team’s success on the ability of a General Manager to take a joke? That’s not good news writing.