October 21, 2011
The Province, one of Vancouver's two major newspapers, raised eyebrows this morning when they published a news editorial that espoused a trade sending Roberto Luongo(notes) to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Vincent Lecavalier(notes).
Again, that's a news editorial, not a sports column. It appeared on page A20 and was attributed to the paper, as most news editorials are, as opposed to one writer in particular.
It was an odd vehicle for a trade proposal, especially one that was no better than something you'd see on a message board. It's a wonder The Province avoided "throwing in a second round pick to balance things out."
It bemused many, but it annoyed Vancouver Canucks' GM Mike Gillis, and this afternoon, the reigning GM of the Year unexpectedly called the Team 1040, Vancouver's local sports radio station, to say something about it.
After allowing the hosts to try to guess what he wants for about ten minutes -- ten minutes of fumbling, groping questions and uncomfortably dead air -- Gillis finally brings up the editorial:
I'm having a lot of trouble with this. I don't see where there's any accountability, I don't see where this merits an editorial. If they want to weigh in and run the Vancouver Canucks, come on down here and do it.
Down here, of course, being Rogers Arena. And this was Gillis's biggest beef, apparently. Because it wasn't attributed to one of the sports writers he sees every day (or anyone, for that matters), he wasn't quite sure who to get mad at:
If [Canucks beat writer] Jason Botchford wrote this and he was down here I could go up to him and talk to him about it. And find out why. This, there's no accountability here.
It's beyond presumptuous to think that they have a say in how we operate this team in this manner. And I don't like it.
But the saga didn't end there. An hour later, Wayne Moriarty, The Province's Editor-in-Chief, appeared on the same program with some choice words for Gillis.
In response to Gillis's accusation that the editorial lacked accountability, Moriarty pointed out that most news editorials aren't attributed to a particular person:
There are very few newspapers in the world that sign editorials. The general undestanding is that it's the view of the editorial board and in this case our editorial board is three to four people, depending on the issue.
But Moriarty also added that the Province had spoken with TC Carling, the Canucks' director of communications, earlier in the day, and that Gillis was being coy on the accountability issue anyway.
He was aware very early in the day that basically I was responsible as the editor for the paper. Mike was playing a little loose with the facts there. He knew who wrote it.
And then Moriarty introduced the underlying issue here, which is that he and Mike Gillis don't care much for one another:
The only other time I've ever met Mr. Gillis, I'll be quite honest, he was quite rude to me. [...] He couldn't even reach out and shake my hand.
And then, a little lovetap:
But this wasn't about Mike. If I was Mike, I'd be more concerned that 14,000 of his premium customers were booing his number one asset.
And some posturing:
Mike's discussion around being accountable and going down to the dressing room, I mean, give me Luongo's phone number, I'll read him the editorial. That's just machismo garbage, it makes no difference to me.
Moriarty has to be the first guy in quite some time to accuse the Canucks of "machismo garbage."
And finally, a comparison Gillis would hate:
I can remember when I met Mike, thinking to myself, it was just a chip off what we'd dealt with with Mr. [Brian] Burke the previous years.
Finally, the hosts of the program, sensing some hostility, asked if the news editorial would still have appeared if, say, The Province and the Canucks were better friends. "I think we have a good working relationship with the Canucks," Moriarty responded.
I'll take your word on that.
To make things even more amusing, both Moriarty and Gillis were slated to be at the same charity event Friday night. I'll update if there's a rumble.