The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

I love hockey. I read almost every piece of sports reporting on it, and even, when I'm totally brain-dead bored, take peeks at the vast wasteland that is sports message boards. And yet, it's been over a year since I've read anything in Sports Illustrated's hockey coverage section. Why? Because it's easily the worst-written and worst-edited section of the magazine/website (and that's saying a lot, because I think SI overall is nowhere near as good as it was even ten years ago).

But I just took a look at the hockey section of their site, because I was curious about their reaction to the NHL season's early going. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who was SI's pick to finish dead last in the league this year, have gotten off to a torrid start at 5-0-2-0, the league's only undefeated team. It doesn't mean that they'll win the Cup, but it does make the magazine's prognostications look a bit weak. Especially when most other media outlets were picking the Lightning to do at least a little better than last year, at around the middle of the pack. Bringing more attention to the situation is that Tampa Bay's GM publicly criticized the prediction and announced that he's cancelling his subscription, citing lazy work on SI's part.

So, Kostya Kennedy, SI's head (and really only, as Darren Eliot and Jon Dolezar don't count) hockey writer, offers up his rebuttal to the whole thing.

Kennedy is a hack of the first order, and his unbearable writing style is what finally made me ditch SI. This piece is a pretty fair example of the lousy job he does, on a grueling schedule of 2-3 articles a week. Just a couple of the mistakes he makes:

-He refers to the team's leading scorer, Martin St. Louis, as "a jitterbug of a center". Nice compliment, except that St. Louis has been playing right wing all year.

-He says "they play in a Palace by the sea". I guess he didn't get the message, that was extensively reported over a month ago, that the former Ice Palace is now named the St. Pete Times Forum.

-The over-reliance on checking last year's stats betrays how little real hockey sense this guy has. Any idiot can can make surface judgements by looking at the numbers; if that's all there was to sports reporting, it'd be as simple as looking at the payroll list, the stats from the previous year, and you can fill in the standings in October. A real reporter uses some deeper insight. I get a strong feeling that all he does is flip through the stats book and doesn't bother with watching any games or actually, God forbid, interviewing anyone.

The overall tone of the article comes across as petulant and whiny, as if he shouldn't be criticized for his earlier comments. He himself alludes to how early it is, but instead of keeping his mouth shut and letting the season unfold, he offers up this weak defense. The fact that he's still employed shows how little SI cares for this section of the magazine. I'm betting even the editing is done by some incompetent boob.