Thursday, July 31, 2008

Broken Telephone: Hockey History on the Internet

In my real job, I take sourcing and referencing very seriously. I try to obtain all primary sources when I can and always double-check info obtained on the web. I have scolded a few employees over the years for using the highly unreliable wikipedia as a source.

In blogging, things are a bit different. I can tolerate wikipedia if what I read is generally in keeping with what I remember from superior sources. Blogging, by its nature, could not be restrained by the need to check for primary information at every turn. Even so, when it comes to some topics, I find it very irksome when the facts are wrong, or vague.

One of these topics is hockey history. And, that is why this video (found this morning on Eklund's already shaky site) got me going.

Championship Series - NHL - Stanley Cup

The video is rife with erroneous material – presented in a very matter of fact way to a much larger audience than most hockey history sites will ever reach.

1) While it is true that the Stanley Cup became the sole property of the NHL in 1926. The term adopted is misleading. The Stanley Cup was one of the NHL's adopted trophies since its inception, but 1926 marked the year they excluded the other (Western Hockey League) who had recently disbanded.

2) The Ottawa Senators were not the first team to win the Stanley Cup in the history of the NHL as the convoluted wording leads one to believe. They merely won the Cup in the year the NHL assumed sole control of the trophy. The NHL, founded in late 1917, had supplied the hockey world with Stanley Cup winners for 7 out of the 8 years it was presented up to 1927. Much to our chagrin, Toronto won the first Stanley Cup for the NHL. And, by the time Ottawa won that Cup in 1926, they were already the big dynasty with 3 of the 8 NHL Cups going to the Sens.

3) As if to eschew any accuracy in the report whatsoever, we are told that the Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy professional athletes compete for. While the debate can rage over who is first, it is not the Stanley Cup. By the time it was first awarded in 1893, athletes had already been competing for current professional trophies like the FA Cup, the Claret Jug and the America' Cup trophy for years.

All this frustrates me primarily because of its laziness – any of the facts could have been checked in a few minutes time. But also in realising that future arguments over forums, comment posts etc., we'll be seeing this lore repeated and probably misquoted again and again, like broken telephone.

And so for the Habs?
How to connect this to the Canadiens? Well for one thing, the heritage of the Stanley Cup is definitely Canadiens heritage, and Montreal heritage even more so. We' re not about to let our 1924 Cup be called non-NHL by some dodgy American video site. What's more, it only adds to the reasons we should question anything that is said about the Habs (or any team for that matter) on hockeybuzz, as the standards of their editorialising have been shown to be as shoddy as the standards for generating rumours.

Also, there was that nice Habs connection about typos. Gainy's mis-spelling far from funniest though. I like Ilanders best...

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