Tuesday, June 21, 2011

GM's Are From Mars, Writers Are From Venus

When all the chatter broke out yesterday about Ryan Smyth's future with the Kings, it only took a matter of hours for all the rumor and innuendo to reach critical mass and leave me completely disgusted in the process. I know the season is finally over and hockey withdrawals have started in earnest, but that's really no reason for people to lose their minds.

"Didn't I take enough abuse for you guys this season?"

The more I read last night, the more I became convinced NHL general managers speak a different language than the writers that follow them. No one seems to believe that a GM actually means what he says, so everyone has to offer their personal interpretation on what every blessed word means, as if they have some kind of secret decoder ring to help ferret out the "real" truth.

Quisp at Jewels From The Crown created the grandaddy of decoder rings in this post yesterday. And Surly and Scribe have made a name for themselves attempting to crack the "Kings-speak" code. In these two cases, I at leave give these folks credit for attempting to take the words given and extract some logical meaning, even if it is their version of logic.

You certainly can't say the same about Helene Elliott, who abandoned the premise of interpretation and logic and simply inserted her own version of the truth as accepted fact. Nothing like quoting a "person with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to comment publicly" as proof that Ryan Smyth wants out of Los Angeles. Is there a better definition of hearsay? And don't even get me started on her opinions of how the Doughty negotiations are going...

Possibly the only voice of complete reason is Matt Murray of Life in Hockeywood, who provided one of my favorite Facebook status updates of this whole mess:

One of the premises of the best-seller Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is that men communicate in a very literal fashion -- they say what they mean. There isn't hidden meaning behind the statement "I'm fine, honey." With women (at least the book asserts this) words always have emotion tied to them and the actual words therefore have underlying meaning. So a woman saying "I'm fine, honey" may mean anything from she's OK to she's not good at all but is just afraid to tell you what's bothering her.

Many hockey writers -- and you notice I didn't say bloggers because "mainstream media" folks like Helene Elliott do it too -- seem to operate on the assumption that GM's are actually Venutians. They believe some cloak and dagger conspiracy exists buried in every quote and their job is to find it an expose it. But let's assume for just a minute that when a GM answers a question, there is no hidden meaning. Dean Lombardi admitting to Helene Elliot that he and Ryan Smyth have had conversations about a trade does not mean Smyth "wants" one. "Wants" is a word chosen to embellish the basic truthful statement that there have been conversations.  Adding a word to a statement doesn't make it true.

So the only thread of truth in every single one of these blog posts in the past 24 hours is that conversations have taken place. No one really knows the tone of those conversations because they weren't there, so they can only guess. And speculation leads to the wild escalation of rumors that quickly gets ridiculous.

So back to Ryan Smyth and the Kings. Are there reasons the Kings would want to trade Smyth? Yes. If he knew he was going to be traded, would Ryan Smyth suggest a particular team he wanted to join? Of course, since he has a no-trade clause. Does any of this mean he hates LA, doesn't think we appreciate him and is demanding to get the heck out of Dodge? Of course not. Because Ryan Smyth is a classy guy, and like most players who have been around the block a few times, he understands that at the end of the day, hockey is a business.

For my part, I choose to believe Ryan Smyth when he says he has not asked for a trade. And if this trade does happen, I wish him nothing but the best wherever he goes. He's been a warrior for this organization and earned my respect and admiration. Plus I'll miss him tossing pucks over the glass to the hockey-crazed little kids we watch warm-ups with at games.

I just hope the Oilers don't convince Dean Lombardi to take on Sheldon Souray. Lord only knows how the blogosphere would explode then...


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