It was the press conference the hockey world had awaited all summer: Sidney Crosby discussing his concussion and whether he’d play in the NHL again. But it should have been delayed a day, according to Sportsnet Radio Fan 590 morning host Greg Brady in Toronto. Even as the first reports of the Russian air crash emerged Wednesday morning, Brady used his Twitter account to urge the Pittsburgh Penguins to delay Crosby’s meeting with the media. “bradyfan590 Greg Brady No one wants to knee-jerk here, but current player’s health status shouldn’t push this horrid tragedy off page somewhat, & sadly, it would.”
The momentum continued as the awful truth from Russia sank in. At least 23 players from the KHL’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and its Canadian coach Brad McCrimmon were among those who perished in the crash. “bradyfan590 Greg Brady NHL scout text to me: “Biggest tragedy in history/sport, & so-called ambassador of game going ahead w/ a “how am I doing” presser? Insane.”
The concern that Crosby was insulated from reality continued at the presser. While Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero briefly acknowledged the tragedy, Crosby found not a single word in his me-fest to mention that many hockey colleagues he knew or played against were lying dead along the Volga River. “@bradyfan590 The sports best known player didn’t reference the sports biggest tragedy at the end of the worst summer in hockey history.”
Brady got lots of pushback, but Thursday he was not changing his tune. “I can see both sides of the Penguins going ahead with it,” he told Usual Suspects in an e-mail. Brady acknowledged Shero’s comment, but added, “I will say, I was shocked the game’s best player and most recognizable face didn’t grasp the importance of doing the same. If the NHL is truly a global game, and this is the greatest unparalleled tragedy in the sport’s history, surely its biggest star would acknowledge it happened and pass along sympathies before his first answer. It takes 10 seconds. Every other star of the sport commented on it, and Crosby had a massive platform to speak for ALL players, not just himself.
“If it had been an NHL team [that crashed], there’s no chance the presser goes forward, so why differentiate between the two? The tragedy has countless links to the NHL. I mean, would the Pens have announced a player signing at the same time? I doubt it. None of this makes Crosby an unfeeling person, but when you’ve grown up watching statesmen like Arthur Ashe, Muhammad Ali, and Wayne Gretzky, maybe I expected a bit more.”
The tragic crash was the best and worst of times for Twitter and journalism. The best is blogger Dmitry Chesnokov’s illuminating updates from the Russian media. Worst? Another rush to put someone in the cemetery. In this case, CBC’s website listed Riley Armstrong, brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong, and former Penguins winger Ramzi Abid as possible passengers on the ill-fated plane. That led Fan 590’s Barb DiGiulio to tweet, “We are hearing that Riley Armstrong, brother of Maple Leaf Colby Armstrong was on the plane.” Neither Armstrong nor Abid was, in fact, aboard, and DiGiulio was simply repeating the CBC message without checking it herself.
How’s that different from the many who reported speculation that Ruslan Salei might still be alive in Minsk? While unresearched speculation (especially from Russian sources) is not advisable in any case, it’s absolutely verboten when talking about a death, particularly one with such close connections to the Toronto market.
Rogers Bows Out