Non-stories get more play than they should when there’s no legitimate news to pass along, and we saw an example of that last week with the Oilers playoff hopes all but mathematically over.
With no playoff match-ups to discuss and Craig MacTavish deemed a goner by at least one local columnist, one item grabbed the headlines before the Oilers clipped Vancouver 5-3 Saturday to keep their fading post-season hopes alive.
Textgate, as it has been called, was sparked when Oilers owner Daryl Katz, frustrated by speculation around MacTavish’s expected demise, sent a five-word text message to 630 CHED radio’s Bob Stauffer.
It read: “MacT is not going anywhere.” Stauffer checked with Katz, then released the message on the air.
Now, a vote of confidence in the coach by the owner certainly is legitimate news, but the responses that followed?
Well, not so much.
Writers who would have taken the text and ran with it, claiming an exclusive scoop for their outlets, were so sour Stauffer had the inside track that Katz’s backing of MacTavish became secondary.
Instead, the spin was how Katz misstepped by delivering his message through a “conduit” of the team. Katz was accused of embarrassing Kevin Lowe, who had to explain the context of the message to reporters in a post-game scrum, and of making GM Steve Tambellini a puppet by coming out with his support of MacTavish.
Hogwash, all of it.
The motivation for the diatribes in the aftermath is simple: Stauffer has access to Katz as a source — he’s had it dating back to when he was this city’s most vocal critic of the Oilers during his days at TEAM 1260 — and those screaming the loudest don’t. End of story.
The fact is, Katz sent the text to take the focus off MacTavish and put it back on what little is left of the playoff race.
When the season is done, MacTavish and his coaching staff will be evaluated. And there will be changes. Count on it.
Media outlets took notice when almost 10,000 people joined a Facebook group organizing a “MacTavish must go” protest scheduled outside Rexall Place Saturday.
In the end, seven “protesters” showed up, meaning they were outnumbered by media, who didn’t stick around when it became clear the rally was a non-story. It just goes to show, commitment to a cause when you’re sitting around in your pyjamas tapping a keyboard at home is one thing, getting off your backside to see it through is quite another.