Are the Ottawa Senators in financial trouble? That's what blogger Travis Yost has been reporting for much of the summer in a series of in-depth posts for HockeyBuzz. In an August 15 entry, Yost's ninth post on the subject in the last two months, he quoted a highly-placed, anonymous NHL source that alleged the Senators' money issues over the last 12-18 months had even earned the club a spot on a league "watch list", of sorts.
At that, the Ottawa Sun reached out to Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk, who refuted the report in no uncertain terms. "No chance," he said in an e-mail. "It's all B.S. coming from a random useless blogger. All this stuff is nonsense. Kinda annoying as well ... doing just fine thank you very much!"
On Sunday, all the work of this random useless blogger -- as well as his Twitter account -- disappeared from the Internet. Yost, it would appear, had been hacked. The only post left in Yost's archive is this innocuous piece of writing on Jared Cowen's contract. All that other stuff? Gone.
If the nine-part series on the Sens' money didn't give it away, Yost is a pretty thorough guy, and his investigation into the source of the alleged hack is equally thorough. It's also pretty interesting, since it yielded a very bizarre connection.
Like everything else, Yost's writing on the hack was wiped from Hockey Buzz, so he had to upload it elsewhere.
"Prior to Saturday night," he writes, "innumerable attempts had been made through private messaging to force me through phony hyperlinks to third-party sites. Standard operating procedure for anyone trying to obtain another individual's IP address, from what I understand."
It's called phishing. It's how the Syrian Electronic Army hacked The Onion. If you're looking to scrub an author's work from the web, tricking the author into surrendering his website's login information to you and deleting the posts manually is probably the best way.
Yost looked into the phony links he was being sent, and traced the IP address back to a domain in the Ukraine. That alone isn't much. The Ukraine is apparently a "haven for hackers". But here's where it gets odd: according to Yost, a reverse IP search led him to an "aliveview.com.ua" domain with just one other real connection: Help Us Help The Children, a Ukrainian humanitarian organization for which Eugene Melnyk serves as the honourary director.
That may very well be completely coincidental. But it's a bizarre connection to make. Although maybe the culprit is just a clever hockey fan, like Angelina Jolie's character in Hackers?
Whoever is behind the alleged hacking, if the goal here is to shut down any talk of Ottawa's financial troubles (which seem quite real in light of the Ottawa Citizen's report that the Senators have lost $94 million under Melnyk), The Streisand Effect seems particularly apt. Rather than disappearing from the Internet, this story has found its way here. And here.
Furthermore, one assumes a smarter way to go about discrediting HockeyBuzz would be to quietly let it continue to exist.
We have reached out to Travis Yost for comment.