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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Canadian Basketball League... Could another survive?

Back in 2011, I wrote extensively about the prospects of a National Basketball League in Canada when the NBL attempted to make inroads into a sports market tough to crack.

My thoughts are here:  http://steveclarkmedia.blogspot.ca/2011/05/canadian-national-basketball-league-can.html

Fast forward to 2015. 

The NBL continues to stand, but its lurching, a little punch drunk and would not take too much to topple the entire league.    London and Halifax draw well, but other teams have had spotty success to say the least. The NBL has defied the odds of many by the plain fact that it is still standing today. It really should be considered a success story. That said if you peel back the layers you can certainly see some exploitable holes.   Franchises in Ottawa, Oshawa as well as a couple in Quebec have either folded or been booted from the league. The TV/Radio presence has been inconsistent and caters locally rather than league wide.  One franchise took the unusual stance of banning London Free Press Reporter Morris Dallacosta, citing that he had been highly critical of one of the teams and the league.  Talk about a blow to freedom of the press, and to Dallacosta, one of the few who consistently wrote about the league.  Dallacosta continues to be a strong yet honest voice for the league and  wrote an article in late December about the fragile financials of the league. In the interest of fairness he then followed up with a somewhat more positive piece : 

Both articles appear here: 

http://www.lfpress.com/2014/12/15/national-basketball-league-of-canada-remains-unchanged

http://www.lfpress.com/2015/01/14/dalla-costa-signs-of-life-from-nbl

It is very interesting to note that there will be two new basketball franchises in play next year as Hamilton and St Catharines, two very good basketball cities are set to join the NBL.  That should raise a curious eyebrow or two, but I'll let that suspense build for a second as you read this article:   

http://www.thestar.com/business/2015/01/20/butch-carter-pitching-startup-canadian-basketball-league-but-will-he-find-sponsors.html

Enter a new face into the fray.  Former Raptors coach Butch Carter has his eyes on forming a basketball league in Canada, but one with a radically different approach.  Right now in the NBL a lot of teams use hockey arenas as their home arena and convert them.  Mississauga, Brampton, Windsor, London, Halifax all do that, which makes for a pleasing venue but not much of a visual when it comes to looking at fans in the stands.   Carter prefers smaller venues that would be cost friendly when it comes to rental prices.  The other eyebrow raising part of the Toronto Star article is the promise of a 20 year deal signed with CHCH Television.   Thats huge, a game changer, however you want to put it!  I've long espoused the view point that the OUA lost a lot of consistent exposure when it lost its OUA Game of the Week on CHCH. They did a good job of broadcasting and showcasing Canadian University Sports.  The Score,  Sportsnet, and TSN, while broadcasting university sport , have not touched CHCH when it came to consistent exposure.   Having a large TV presence is great for a league that has yet to start.  This makes the choice of St Catharines and Hamilton to go to the NBL, all the more curious as both are right in the heart of CHCH's viewing community. 

As I reflect back on my own article in 2011, Butch Carter's model acknowledges my own approach in some ways, but goes in other directions in other ways.  I suggested that Jack Armstrong and Leo Rautins get involved as they are high profile basketball figures, and its rumoured that Rautins could be part of an Ottawa re-boot.  I still think you need to get Canada Basketball on board and have a good relationship with the national program, and I also think that you need the best college and university players from Canada in the league as well.  Carter left the Toronto Raptors back in 2000 under acrimonious circumstances, but hopefully fences can be mended and the Raps can get involved on some level.   

Overall, TV is the game changer for me.   As someone who has been involved in broadcasting university basketball and college basketball on radio and TV, I see the link that media can create with fans.  Add in some of the new and social media, and you could have something here.  I would not eschew the traditional models of media like radio and TV wholly in favour of social media as, in my opinion, retweets, Twitter, and Instagram followers are but numbers that don't necessarily translate into meaningful dollars in the way that TV/Radio numbers can. 

Ultimately, a Darwinian survivial of the fittest model would work best.  Take the best markets from the NBL, merge it with the CBL and cast aside the weaker markets.     As the CBL wants to be all Ontario next year, a model with the following franchises ,work, as long as you tailor the schedule to keep travel costs down. Taking out of the mix the NBL for now, as it seems from the Star article, they are not willing to play nice or share the sandbox, I'd start with these cities and expand from there: 

Kitchener-Waterloo (lots of interest already in that market) , Hamilton, St Catharines (if they have not fully committed to the NBL) , Ottawa (Leo Rautins/Dave Smart factor), Kingston (kicked the tires with the NBL), Guerlph/Sarnia, two cities with good basketball grassroots, I suggest would also make good markets as they have a very solid grass roots presence.   No need for plane rides with these markets and teams can be paired off for travel weekends (Kingston/Ottawa, Hamilton/St Catharines).

Honestly, I would love to see minor league basketball thrive not only in Canada, but also in the rest of Canada.  That is a long, long way off.   As it stands right now, there is no way both incarnations of a Canadian Basketball League survive, but I'd bet on the new guy and his potential TV deal over the league that appears solid on some days but staggers on other days.

Steve Clark
Steve called McMaster basketball on the radio or on TV most years from 1993-2013, and also called York Lions basketball from 2006-2011.  He currently is the TV voice of the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL and Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. 


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

(G) RUMBLINGS ABOUT THE OHL TRADE DEADLINE

People who know me in hockey circles, or who follow my Twitter feed (Cheap Plug:  @SteveClarkMedia) know that I am hardily a fan of the OHL Trade Deadlines, and in particularly these lurking on the fringes so called "Insiders" who love to fire out a number of unsubstantiated claims, or rumours and then quick to bellow "I had it first" to the social media work.   On some level I understand the need in the industry to have the scoop, or to have a good reliable network of sources, but does it really matter if so and so had the trade nailed 10 seconds before another guy in the grand scheme of things?   Not really, but as I said, it is the nature of the social media beast that is Twitter. 

The other thing I do not like about the trade deadline is the physical deadline itself.   The CHL does a wonderful job of protecting our World Juniors by banning any trading of them during the tournament. This rule was put in place as poor Steve Mason was away wearing our countries colours while London and Kitchener were finalzing a trade that would see him be shipped to Kitchener for their Memorial Cup run.  It was not exactly the distraction Mason needed and it was a good thing he was only going from London to Kitchener, a relatively short distance geographically.   The next year, even with the new rule,  it was John Tavares proudly sporting Canada red fully aware that his team colours were rumoured to be  changed from Oshawa General Red, White and Blue to London Knights Green and Gold.At least the rule was in place and nothing was completed until after the tournament.

The CHL could go the extra step and protect all high school age players by not having players traded so close to exams.  Many high school exams in Ontario are the 2nd or 3rd week in January and then there is a Semester turnaround time.   Seeing as the CHL likes calling their athletes Amateur Student Athletes, to me, it would be nice to move the trade deadline back or making a trade conditional that the player report to his traded team AFTER exams are done.  No use in playing for those extra years of post secondary education if you are bombing exams because you just got traded!For those taking post-secondary courses, the trade deadline should be in line with college/university semester turnarounds of ends of courses as best as logistically possible   As the OHL promotes itself almost as a miniature version of the NHL, nothing will likely get changed about the trade deadline but they should. 

While I am really laying into the spectre of the trade deadline, don't you think it is time for a cap on what draft picks you can trade.  I saw a trade that saw Nitchie get traded to Sault St Marie a 2020 draft pick change hands.  Somewhere right now there is an 11 year old who has actually traded! As I said in a tweet, an 11 year old just got traded and was told to turn off his X Box and go to sleep.   Maybe two years in advance of the actual draft would be fair, but five?   That, to me, is a tad ridiculous.  Thinking really outside of the box it would be nice to see OHL teams somehow rewarded for keeping players for 4 or 5 years, maybe in the form of compensatory draft picks, or a supplemental draft of some sort.  Any sort of reward will do really.   Might make teams think less about trading players.  That, I know, is so far out of the box, it can't really see the box. 

Do not get wrong, I am not so down on the trade deadline that I'd like to see a moratorium on trades.  Quite the contrary as a matter of fact.   The buzz created does help market the league and the team . A league in which the teams go in cycles necessitates the trading of players. I talk to trusted sources in the league to get a sense of where a team wants to be a buyer or a seller, or who is on the move.  I love me a good block buster and when teams add assets.  I just think that the whole process could be changed to benefit the amateur student athletes who are seen as commodities rather than student aged athletes.   

Steve Clark (Insider status:   normally the 15th to break a trade, after it has been officially confirmed by the league)

Monday, December 15, 2014

IF I WERE IN CHARGE OF ROGERS HOCKEY..

Rogers turned the hockey world upside down when it negotiated a 12 year deal worth $5B out of the NHL and left old rights holders TSN left out in the regional cold.   Two months into the deal, much has been written about the on-air product, the ratings and whether or not it was the financially prudent move for both the cable giant and the NHL. $5B is a boatload to recoup in terms of  new subscribers and advertising revenue.   I have no doubt that the stress levels of the Rogers sales staff might rival that of air traffic controllers. 

Rogers promised unprecedented access to over the air games with three definitive hockey nights (Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday).  They promised to promote the stars (those with the mumps and those without) and they promised unique access to different camera angles through their Rogers Game Centre (whoops, lawsuit pending on that one).  

Have they delivered this?  Sure they have, but not without a number of pitfalls along the way.  People are complaining about regional blackouts, where to find the games and of course everyone has an opinion on the on-air personalities both in the studio.   Read the comment sections in most newspapers, or sports media columns and the reviews are not kind.  I've found that even if you give people extra stuff or content for free, they are still going to complain.  As for the on-air personalities, there are those who long for the simplicity of Ward Cornell, and those who grew tired of the punny Ron MacLean now want him back.  

Now, if you are looking for opinions or trashing of on-air personality, this is not the forum for you. What some people like, is not other peoples cuppa tea! So if you want the burying or praising of Healy, Strombo, Grapes, Romanuk, Hughson, Damien Cox etc, go to the comment sections, you will find ample material there. 

CHANGES:
STREAMLINE ON-AIR
One thing TSN and CBC did very well was to create new on-air sports broadcasting stars.  For TSN James Duthie, Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger were early examples of stars created through credibility and repeated exposure.  Even new guys TSN brings in like Jeff O' Neill, Ray Ferraro and Aaron Ward became credible analysts through the exposure TSN gave, and continues to give them.  For CBC, Elliot Friedman, Kelly Hrudey and Glen Healy are the guys that come to mind that became household names, respected for their on-air personality and delivery, though Healy is one of those guys who gets hammered int he comment sections for some reason.  If I am Rogers, I am looking to streamline the on-air exposure and am looking to create breakout stars.  It is tough to break out and be a star if you are among the 38 analysts/hosts that Rogers has for their hockey coverage.   Clearly they want Strombo to be the new face, so he is an easy one to give the exposure.   I will be the first to admit that I am not used to Strombo and his method of hosting.  He does not sit behind a desk, he is mobile switching back from the chairs to the glass table to standing up effortlessly.   In the long run, he will be fine and people will grow to accept him.   I think Mike Johnson could be the next star.  He is young, camera friendly and as a former Maple Leaf has some name recognition.  Plus he analyzes and breaks down the game well.   As for the rest of the on-air roster, identify who your stars could be, put them in places where they can succeed (it could be in the studio or game coverage) and them maximize their exposure.  Again, I cannot say for sure who the stars are or potentially could be but you could focus on them more than other people. I do think that some of the people are miscast and are better suited for on location game analysis while others are more studio types.   Creating stars is a process, and not done over the first couple of months of a 12 year deal.   

I am not sold yet on Sunday's Hometown Hockey quite yet , but again, its new and its a process.   The dynamic seems to be to combine the enthsiasm of college football with the audience participation of the Today Show. I like a lot of the things they are doing, and am ambivalent to others.  Not sure if they do it, but I would provide more cut ins during the game from Ron MacLean and crew to remind viewers of the hometown aspect.    Again, it will work over time, but will take time to put a dent into an audience geared towards NFL football on Sunday.  The good thing is already it appears communities want to have Hometown Hockey come to their community.  Creating a demand is never a bad thing.  

STREAMLINE DISTRIBUTION:
If I am Rogers, I listen to the people who cannot find games and vastly streamline my channel distribution to CBC, CITY TV and Sportsnet and provide as many double headers as I can through those channels more familiar to the average viewer.   Right now Rogers does offer up a viewing guide every weekend, but either people cannot understand or more likely, they are not bothering to check out the grid.   Streamlining the channels will help viewers find their game.   Viewers are creatures of habit and would like to know exactly where their game is. I would keep putting the guide online and try to distribute it through as many platforms as possible.  Hopefully people catch on.  Keep bumping regional games to national platforms when possible.  Rogers has been doing a very good job of this.  Make it seem like you are giving a viewer a "perk" or a "freebie" and it should assuage some of the complaining.   

The dominant theme of this is that it is very early in a 12 year partnership to be tearing down the existing on-air product by jettisoning on-air talents and radically changing the distribution or location of the game.  Ultimately, people will find something to complain about but they will still flock to hockey.  Sure there is room to grow but a more evolutionary approach is the key rather than a revolutionary method. 

Steve Clark 
Sports Media Enthusiast 
Play by Play TV for the Niagara IceDogs and the Hamilton Bulldogs

ICE DOGS WEEKEND

Some quick thoughts on the IceDogs weekend, and recent play:   Winston Churchill once referred to Stalin as " a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside  an enigma" It's a quote that could certainly apply to the IceDogs recent run.  No, it does not mean that Marty Williamson is Stalin, or Churchill for that matter, but the coach/GM must be pulling his hair out trying to figure out his team.  

Coming off of a three game losing the streak, the team battled the elements and themselves on route to a 7-4 win over the reeling Peterborough Petes.  The storm on Thursday's made the bus ride to the lift lock city slow and arduous and the IceDogs arrived well after their normal arrival and the game subsequently was delayed for 30 minutes to allow the team a proper warm up.   The Dogs jumped up 2-0, fell behind 4-2 and then scored 5 straight to win despite taking a slew of baffling, undisciplined and downright foolish penalties in the third and handing the Petes 11 power plays.  Still, you take the road W and run. 

Friday night saw the IceDogs sweep, yes I said sweep, Oshawa Generals with a hard fought 5-3 win. Although the Generals were missing top producers Michael DalColle (Team Canada) and Andrew Cassels, they still represent a formidable foe and the IceDogs earned every bit of that tough victory. That meant the IceDogs had four victories against Erie/Oshawa, arguably the best teams in the OHL and holders of the CHL #1 ranking during the season.   

So it was all set up for a 6 point sweep of the weekend as the rebuilding Saginaw Spirit came to town, off of a 6-4 defeat at the hands of Erie.  A series of moves by the Spirit seemed to indicate they had an eye towards the future, and it promised to be the easiest of the three games of the weekend.   Right?  Right?  Wrong!  The IceDogs came out with all the sizzle of a deflated balloon and got pounded 7-1.  Missed passes, lines not on the same page and a general all around lethargy left the 4000 plus in attendance a tad confused, as they wondered whether or not it was the same team that had taken the ice 24 hours before.  It was by far the flattest performance of the year on home ice and again raised the question of whether or not this team could be a surprise contender, or a mere pretender in the eastern conference.   

As we approach the mid way point of the season, there are no clear answers, and really no more excuses.  The injury list has been reduced and impact performers Brendan Perlini, Cody Payne and Ryan Mantha are back.  On paper the IceDogs have three solid forward lines and a fourth line that should provide energy and forechecking.   This is neither the time nor the forum to name names, but there are players not performing to expectations, both on the score sheet and in doing the little things, the intangibles that make a team better.  

Every time I see this team show the potential that they possess they put up a performance like Saturday's game and undo a lot of the good they had previously accomplished.  Do I believe in this team still?  Yes, but like the old hockey cliche goes, I'm taking this team one game at a time until I figure out exactly who they are.   

Steve Clark 
Niagara IceDogs TV Play by Play

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pot Shots, Scatter Shots, Off the Cuff Thoughts

Took a couple of weeks away, and now I'm feeling the urge to share thoughts and feelings (Working title for my new easy listening album, by the way) .  I come to praise not bury (Title of my soon to be written autobiography:  Just trying to avoid having to wear a toga on the front cover, as the quote is from Julius Caesar) !

-- Nice bounce back by the IceDogs.  So far this year they twice have had six game losing streaks, and then they just finished a three game losing streak.  A blowout of Belleville was followed by a solid 4-1 win over the CHL's #1 team, the Oshawa Generals.  Old habits die hard though and a couple of late third period goals doomed the Dogs as they lost 4-2 to North Bay.  Still 4/6 points is an nice haul, considering the opposition.   Guelph is on Thursday and then it is back to the road again for three.   

--The much ballyhooed selection camp for Canada's World Juniors camp was announced on Monday.  Normally with these sorts of things there is much more discussion about the omissions than the guys who made it, and this was no exception.  I am not going to dive headlong into that debate because,more often than not guys who made the list get tossed under the bus because player X made it.  Lets face it, all the players listed deserve to be there.  I think that we as Canadians are taking this tournament far too seriously, but it drives ticket sales, merchandise and TV numbers, and has become a big deal. 

-- I'm not a guy who follows the WHL or Q (oops better make that QMJHL, lest we get mixed up with that Ghomeshi guy), so I 'm not equipped to analyze the roster.  I am surprised that one of Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Josh Ho-Sang did not make the cut.  Ho-Sang in particular has become the intriguing omission.  No one seems to know how to take Ho-Sang, which is a shame because I think if you dig deeper you get a guy who is passionate, sensitive and opinionated (fist bump PK Subban). Rogers, through their 5 Billion dollar package aims to promote the players and the superstars of the game.  This runs counter to the hockey culture of media being comfortable and accepting of guys who spew well worn cliches.  Players who have an opinion, or are articulate are a curiosity.  Ho-Sang, to me , fits the latter.  He could be a game breaking superstar if he puts it all together and could be a high profile star in this league, if hockey will let him. 

-- Hockey media blogger Steve Lepore got in a ton of hot water, and lost his job after it was publicized that he had been essentially preying on a number of women via social media.   Again, beware the perils of social media and the fact that nothing is really going to be personal, particularly if you offend the wrong person.    OHL players have learned that and now Lepore has.   His behaviour was predatory and inexcusable.  He has since apologized on social media which is the start on a very, very long road to redemption.

--Damn tough weekend to be a Hamilton football fan as both the Marauders and Tiger Cats lost heartbreaking nail biters.  Pretty proud of my hometown, though I wonder why Hamilton cannot have nice things like other cities.  

--Much as I like to promote my own career and own TV games (did I mention spectacular HD?), if you want to attend one AHL game this year, make it Friday December 5th at 7:30 at First Ontario Centre.   It is military appreciation night and there will be a special ceremony for Nathan Cirillo, the soldier tragically killed in Ottawa several weeks back.  It is sure to be very emotional.

--Finally, true confessions time. I am a big WWE fan, at least I used to me.  While I never want to classify myself as the mature person on the face of the earth, I am not a teenager or younger, and that is who the current product is geared to.  The jokes are juvinile, and cringe worthy and its just not in anyway appealing.  Maybe I should have given this up a long time ago, but it kept pulling me in .  Now its alienating and painful to watch.   I'm out.....until at least the Royal Rumble, because that is the Road to Wrestlemania!!!

-- Busy weekend for me personally.  IceDogs v Guelph on Thursday.  Hamilton v Toronto on Friday, both on TV locally and both in stunning HD. I will try and get some video up of the games if I can.  You can check http://steveclarksportsbroadcaster.blogspot.ca for updated schedules as to where I will be and what I will be doing.  

Later
Steve Clark 
TV Voice Hamilton Bulldogs/ Niagara IceDogs

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IN PRAISE AND DEFENCE OF CONNOR MCDAVID

Man, there are a lot of nerds covering hockey. 

Man, there was a lot of moral self-righteousness and outrage.   

For those late to the party, Connor McDavid got into a fight last night and hurt his hand when he missed his intended mark and hit the boards instead.  I will pause and give those who see fights as the evil in hockey an opportunity to dab away their tears. 

When the Connor McDavid injury news filtered down, there were scarcely enough soap boxes to cover everyones disapproval, agenda promoting, and  self-promoting.   They seemed to fall into these categories: 


1 "See, I told you they should take fighting out of hockey" 


2. "Connor McDavid should know better because he's a generational talent" 

3. "How are they going to sell tickets in Toronto and Montreal for the World Junior Championships"

4. "This just furthers my argument that CHL hockey is evil. players are the modern day coal miners and David Branch presides over the Hunger Games"  Tongue in cheek, but no doubt the CHLPA and the lawsuit guys were thinking about it.  

Note, that I haven't listed a category for "voice of reason" . For that go to Victor Fernandes column.  He covers the Erie Otters day in and day out and knows a thing or two about the Otters.  Even Victor had to be a tad bemused as he was on every Toronto sports radio show talking about this.

Here is Fernandes' take here: 

For the anti-fighting softies, I offer the following.  The fact that fighting has been muted in the game of hockey is cause for much back patting amongst so called hockey media.   I offer the counter that the fact that McDavid had to fight for himself was the problem.  I had a couple of people watch THE WHOLE PLAY and not just the McDavid soundbite and they seemed to offer up the fact that there was a liberty or two taken with McDavid before the fight.  

In the good old days when Gretzky had Semenko and McSorely and Gordie Howe had his elbows, there was no messing with the star.  Now Crosby and McDavid have to fend off sticks, shoulders, elbows, knees, etc while the enforcer is starting to be from a bygone era.  

The second argument was promoted by a couple of people, including a former GM turned broadcaster.  Connor McDavid is generational talent who is 17 years old, and prone to 17 year old emotions no matter how poised and protected he is.  Everyone has a breaking point. Even Harry Potter, another "Chosen One" had a misstep or two and lost his temper the odd time on his way to the (Spoiler Alert) vanquishing of Voldemort. 

By the way, did you see how McDavid acquitted himself in that fight?   He showed a mean streak that would have done Dale Hunter and Mark Messier proud.  I like the fact that he can handle himself when the going gets rough, just too bad he got injured, and I hope that the injury is not serious.  

Other opinions worth reading for your approval and disapproval are here: 

Come on man! Lets gain some perspective here.  So for the moral outrage crew, the fighting is evil crews, the generational talent crew and the Jr World Hockey ticket angst crew?  Give your damn head a shake and look beyond your own soapbox. 

Steve Clark

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THE DARKER SIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Another week has gone by, and another week in which off the ice activities took precedent over what happened on the ice and the role of social media took centre stage for Greg Betzold of Peterborough and Jake Marchment of Belleville.   

I adopt two rules when it comes to social media;  Firstly, everything is post under my real name so that everyone knows who it is who is posting. Secondly, If I would not say to someone's face, then I am not going to say it online.  I try to use social media as a conduit to those who follow me on Twitter and to have meaningful conversation.  Seems a little idealistic, but I am trying to see puppy dogs, rainbows and the glass being half full more than grey clouds, the glass being half empty and wolves? Man that was a terrible analogy.   However, I am also a 42 year old man, not a teenager.  Goodness knows what sort of problems I would have entangled myself with if I had access to social media under the Twitter handle @Rockin'Mullet88.   Young people on social media often do not have the foresight to see the forest beyond the trees when it comes to social media.  Heck, not even adults use social media as grown ups should sometimes.   

To the story at hand.   Betzold and Marchment were on Tinder, which apparently is a social media app that allows people to mingle, socialize and see if they have mutual interests.   You can "like " someone and get matched up for a chat, or you can simply "swipe" someone and ignore someone if you do not like someone.  Man, I got "swiped" a lot in high school.   During their interaction with some women, things went off the rails.  Without getting into graphic detail, the players used language that was harassing, hateful, mean, entitled and just plain spiteful.  They denigrated the young ladies they were interacting with, and came across, quite frankly as jackasses.    

However, the problem began when one of the ladies in question sent the exchange to a guy known as "OHL Insiders on Twitter", and this person promptly publicized the whole exchange and that is when it hit the fan.  To me, it was a terrible decision to post the full conversation online for everyone to see.  There is far too much judgement in the public arena of social media.  What should have happened is that the exchange should have been forwarded in confidence to the teams in question and the league without all the unsavoury details.    Maybe that is naive, when there really is no good that can come from putting it out there for all to see. That said, when the Peterborough Petes got wind of what Betzold did, they said they were going to deal with matters internally and not publicize their decision. That , to me, sent a terrible message and gave the appearance that it was going to swept under the rug. I told the person this, and made my opinion known.  He disagreed with me, and really seemed invested in what sort of publicity he could generate for himself rather than some sort of moral compass. Again, that's my take and he knows that.   

The OHL ruled harshly, some may say in a Draconian manner.  15 games each for both Betzold and Marchment.  In other words almost a quarter of the season.  To me that seemed unduly harsh and the OHL seemed to adjudicating based on the reaction of everyone rather than the action itself.   They did use the right language when publicizing the situation and referred to the sense of entitlement that the OHL was trying to remove from the game. No question  I would have suspended them, and I would have settled in the 5 to 10 game range, not 15.   The OHL has painted themselves into a corner and will be rightly criticized for suspending players for 15 games for what is their first offense of this nature. Where do they go from here when it comes to misuse of social media?  Should Marchment and Betzold do it again, do they get 20 games 30 games?  I deal with teenagers everyday as a high school law teacher, and in many cases harshest is not best when it comes to discipline.   Incremental stages of discipline work better when put in place in the education system, so why not junior hockey?  
The other problem is that the wolves are circling the OHL and CHL.  Unions, lawyers and others are lurking at the fringes just waiting to throw the CHL under the bus.  A case in point was when a Jr A player made headlines when his $20 000 dentist bill was only covered by Hockey Canada to the tune of $2500. Bam! Jerry Dias of UNIFOR is quoted in the story, and Glenn Gumbley of the CHLPA is not far behind with his take.  Same goes with this suspension.  This gives them ample fodder to wrongly spout about the ills of the game.  A lot of people outside of the game made this one their lead headlines and used it to hop on their soapbox, which I guess I am guilty of as well.   

I truly hope that these players will be better people for this, and I hope that they legitimately feel terribly for what they did because these were young women they were disparaging, and we do a lousy job of considering the feelings of the victims in any situation, let alone this one.  I also hope that there are very serious conversations going on in 60 CHL locker rooms today about the perils of social media.   Players need to be reminded that they are representing not only themselves, but also a team and a community.  They also need to be reminded that nothing truly is private.  Again, I thought it was a terrible decision to put out the transcripts of the exchanges, but what is done is done. For the OHL , I really hope they mete out punishment consistent with the crime, not the reaction to the crime. 

I commend the young ladies who bravely stood up against this. Often victims are reluctant to come forward, as their blameworthiness is assessed and they get unfairly thrust into the spotlight.  No one deserves to have the things said about them that the players said.   

Again, lets get back to hockey and lets circle the wagons to promote this great game, rather than give those who want to subvert the game the ammunition to do so.  

Steve Clark