Dangerous Minds: Adrian Dater

We here at Hockey Wilderness have been strong supporters of trade rumors, especially when they are completely based on fact (never), and not on intelligence reports from your random blog reader. That's why when we read something as powerful, and clearly as rooted in fact as something the ever trustworthy Adrian Dater wrote for the NHL's US cable partner, Versus. 

We were taken aback how Mr. Dater could have such shocking, truly amazing inside information into a team he doesn't even cover, and writes about just six times a year. Clearly he has scooped Russo, scooped Brothers, hell, he even scooped us on this one. Stupid HWRG2000 never produced this information. We want our money back.

What is it that Mr. Dater has found? Make the jump and find out.

Usually, rumors in hockey come from sources like the guy who expects you to pay him to make crap up and see if it sticks. Some come from jokes amongst friends that got out of hand. Still others come from the rumor thread at HF Boards. None of them warrant more than a laugh, but all too often, they catch on. All too often, big name players in the media are trapped into debunking rumors that never should have seen the light of day.

Then, on the rare occasion, one of those players actually starts the rumor. This is one of those situations. Was it based on fact? Is there reason to believe this rumor is actually the truth? Is there even a reason why this false information needed to be put out for public consumption?

The answer to all but one of those questions is no. The only reason this crap was put out is due to the complete and total inability of Mr. Dater to remain objective while writing about the game of hockey. For now, let's look at what Mr. Dater has to say.

It starts out as a simple post about the difficulty in making a trade in today's NHL. On this point, Mr. Dater and I agree completely. With a hard salary cap and a multitude of no trade and no movement clauses for players that do not deserve them, GMs are most certainly handcuffed.

Still, trades happen, it just makes it more difficult. You can no longer count on the Rangers and Habs to take on every bad contract in the league. The cap healthy teams are unwilling to part with their space without a solid return, either. Mr. Dater explains that in the lead in to his post.

Indeed, the lack of trades so far this season is fairly startling. Through Saturday, only 11 players had changed NHL uniforms – an average of 5 ½ trades through nearly three months. Last season was considered a slow trade year, but there were still 85 active NHL players changing addresses. Nobody thinks that this season's trade activity will result in anything close to that number.

The teams that want to move bodies – Ottawa, Minnesota, Toronto and the Devils especially – are finding their offerings are just too expensive and not worth it to the lower-payroll teams, many of whom are happy to stay in playoff contention at their current payroll levels.

See what I mean? Fairly well put, even if it is difficult to believe that those are the only four teams looking to move players. I'm guessing Calgary's GM is looking to save his own job, right?

Heck, even the end of the post isn't bad. Mr. Dater finishes strong on his point:

The plight of many GMs, therefore, is purely of their own making. Nobody held a gun to the head of New Jersey's Lou Lamoriello when he handed out a four-year, $20 million contract to Brian Rolston at age 35. Nobody forced Ottawa GM Bryan Murray to put in writing that Mike Fisher was worth $4.2 million a year for this season and the following two. Murray’s reward has been 15 points in 34 games from Fisher, with a minus-7.

Nobody held any guns to the heads of the GMs who gave players no-trade, no-movement contracts either - and those are many players.

I agree here, as well. Rolston's non-signing here in Minnesota makes HWSRN look like a genius at this point. The Mike Fisher signing probably would have worked out better in any NHL city that doesn't start with O, but the point remains. Fischer in Ottawa is not working. No one held a gun to their heads, but GMs screw up. Welcome to the NHL.

Now, you are all asking: what the hell is your point Mr. Reynolds? So far you have done nothing but agree with Mr. Dater. Indeed, I have been agreeing with him more than I care to. I plan to shower posthaste, but first, let's get to the point of this, shall we?

Right in the middle of his post, where no one would ever notice, is some very dangerous reporting from someone of Mr. Dater's stature. This information is, without a doubt, not based in fact. For someone who writes about an organization that is hellbent on the idea that bloggers are going to ruin the world with their careless reporting of information, this is a bold move.

This is the offending paragraph:

According to capgeek.com, 14 teams were within $2 million of the salary cap ceiling, so they can’t take on any salary and aren’t finding any takers for players they’d like to sell off. The Wild, for instance, would dearly love to get rid of Martin Havlat, but he has four and a half years remaining on a contract paying $5 million per. Nobody wants him at that number. The Wild are also mighty nervous now at having a center – Mikko Koivu – who is slated to earn $6.75 million a year for the next SEVEN years, starting in 2011-12. Koivu had six goals in 30 games entering Saturday.

I'll give you all a minute to go to the comment section and vent your rage. No. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Let's look at this in two parts. First, the take on Havlat:

The Wild, for instance, would dearly love to get rid of Martin Havlat, but he has four and a half years remaining on a contract paying $5 million per. Nobody wants him at that number.

What gets me about this is just how brazen it really is. The Wild would dearly love to get rid of Havlat? No source given on that tidbit, Mr. Dater is just going to throw that out there in some Eklundian moment of grandeur. I ask you, Mr. Dater... who on the Wild staff told you that they "would dearly love to get rid of Havlat?" I would really like to know, since no one here in Minnesota has heard that.

What GM wants to trade away one of the two players leading his team in points?

Nobody wants Martin Havlat at $5 million per year. That is... nobody except the Minnesota Wild. With the way Havlat is playing, why wouldn't a team want him? As far as I know there aren't any NHL squads who fear points. I could certainly be wrong on that, but it would be speculation, and we'll leave that to Mr. Dater. As for no team wanting Havlat, I find that monumentally difficult to believe.

Let's move on to the bit about Koivu:

The Wild are also mighty nervous now at having a center – Mikko Koivu – who is slated to earn $6.75 million a year for the next SEVEN years, starting in 2011-12. Koivu had six goals in 30 games entering Saturday.

Let me ask another rhetorical question. The Wild are "nervous" about Koivu? Sure would be nice to have a source on that. A source other than the great Adrian Dater's drunken ramblings would be great on this bit. When the extension was reported, Chuck Fletcher was reported extremely happy. He even went on a PR campaign to defend the deal. The man has a giant picture of Koivu putting on a Wild sweater in his suite in the press box. Now suddenly he's nervous? That's just ridiculous.

The shock at the length of the deal, and the price tag, is cute and all, Adrian, but it's old hat. We did this all summer. To rehash it in December is just not something we're going to do. We've already battled with ESPN and any number of weak minded bloggers about the deal. You don't like it? Good. You can enjoy Koivu lighting up the Avs for the next SEVEN years.

The Real Issue

OK, OK. Mr. Dater doesn't like the Wild very much. Next time the Wild play the Avs, watch his comments on Twitter, on his blog, and in the newspaper. Mr. Dater is about the least objective hockey writer on the planet, and he doesn't care for the game the Wild play, and still buys into the idea that the Wild play the trap.

Beyond that, this is absolutely, without a doubt, the most asinine reporting I have ever seen from someone who calls himself a journalist. He is pulling an Eklund, throwing a ration of crap at the wall, and hoping it sticks. The problem is, that's not what beat writers are supposed to do. Of course, in his role with Versus, Mr. Dater isn't acting as a beat writer. Although, he is certainly playing on the name recognition he gained as a beat writer.

It is flat out dangerous for someone with the bullhorn that Mr. Dater has to broadcast comments such as the Wild loving the idea of being rid of one of their stars, or that the Wild are nervous about the contract they just signed with the face of the franchise. Mr. Dater has no basis for these comments, and chose to make them anyway. If he has sources, he needs to say so, but since we all know this is a creation of his mind and his bitterness, we'll just let that go.

The post, without the comments about Koivu and Havlat, reads pretty good. Throw those into the mix, and it ruins the piece, turning it into a post that makes him look like an addled old man who is fine with making things up rather than actually reporting on anything. To rectify the situation would have been easy enough. Mr. Dater could have simply conveyed those as his feelings on the contracts, rather than stating that these are the opinions of the Minnesota Wild.

Rather than using that fancy journalism degree, and his decades of journalistic experience to detail out the difficulty in making a trade in the NHL, he went with the cheap thrill. Rather than use his pulpit to explain to the mass of fans why their favorite team is unable to pull off the trade that would make them better, he decided to take a shot at a team he doesn't like, and to play rumor monger.

Mr. Dater should be ashamed of himself, as should Versus for publishing something like this without sources. My guess is that The Denver Post wouldn't have. It leaves us to wonder when Damien Cox will chime in with his take on this particular blogger making things up and saying whatever he wants. I'll make sure to hold my breath while I wait.

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