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TSN on Twitter: Your Home for Sensationalism

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Today on Twitter, the well respected Darren Dreger re-tweeted something from one of his colleagues, Ryan Rishaug, someone I had never heard of until today. That tweet was to promote a story set to air on TSN's Sports Centre about Kurtis Foster, the injury he incurred while with the Wild, and the fact that Fozzie thinks the touch up icing call should be changed.

Now, anyone who has a radio show, a blog, writes for a newspaper, etc, uses Twitter to promote their work. We do it here at Hockey Wilderness, and I use my personal account to spread the word about new posts as well. What we don't do? Sensationalize our stories. They are what they are.

The tweet that set this all in motion, the story, and the truth. After the jump.

Everyone remember the injury? If not, here is the video. If you remember it, skip the video. No one wants to watch that again.

Nasty. Harrowing. Scary as hell. There are no words that can be used to oversell this injury, is there? Well, it turns out, yes, there are.

Mr. Rishaug sent this tweet to promote his story around 2PM central time on Thursday:

K.Foster feature on SC today. wants nhl to change icing rule, new details about his horrific injury. Not many know, he nearly died. 6et 4mt

Now, I had not heard that Foster's injury was, at any point, life threatening. Certainly, career threatening, ability to walk or skate threatening... but life threatening? No. We were never told that. So, the tweet caught my eye, and I asked myself, "Self, does this make sense?" The answer was a resounding "no."

At the time the tweet went out, no details were given. Just left us hanging with the information that Fozzie had nearly died due to a nasty broken leg. Like the local news giving us the teaser: "What you could be eating everyday that could kill your baby. Tonight at 10." We tune in at ten, only to be told that people should not feed junk food to their baby.

Then, about a quarter to four, the story was released on TSN.ca. I, of course, was eager to read it. Fozzie is one of my favorite players in the NHL, was a terrible non-signing by the Wild, and has endured more than his share of loss and grief. If Fozzie almost died, I wanted to know the details. Call me curious.

Going to the story, this is what I read:

"Well, basically everybody knows that I had the medal put in my leg," said Foster. "But the part that a lot of people don't know, and I'm ready to talk about now, is that the surgery was supposed to take four hours and it ended up taking about 10. And the problem was that when they went in there was so much bleeding, and I lost so much blood, that it took them so long to put everything back together."

Foster's blood loss was concerning for a number of reasons, not just the amount of time it took surgeons to piece together his shattered leg.

"Your hemoglobin level is around a 12.5 in most humans and after my surgery I was down to six and a half, so I basically lost half the red blood in my body." Foster said that doctors have since told him that when hemoglobin levels drop to the fours or fives, you're at risk of dying on the table from bleeding out

Read it a couple times, if you will. Scary stuff. The guy breaks his leg, is told it takes four hours to fix, and it takes ten. Uncool. Scary for those sitting in the waiting room. I once was told a surgery my father was having would take 3 hours, it took 7. When they got in, the situation was not what they thought it was, they had to change plans, and the new plan took longer.

At no point did I feel the length of time put him at risk of death. 

The next point brought up is Fozzie's hemoglobin levels. Supposed to be around a 12.5, dropped to around 6.5. At the 5 level, doctors worry about the patient bleeding out. Got it. All of this extremely scary. No one wants to be told this information. I get it.

What I don't see in there is where anyone said he almost died. 

I'm not a doctor. I do everything I can to not pretend to be a doctor, nor to draw conclusions when given medical information. If I am given medical information, I glaze over like when I am reading Behind the Net. I am sure the information is correct. It is also highly valuable and useful, just not to me. When I am given medical information, I ask questions. Hundreds of them.

In the story online, there are no questions asked of a doctor. So... I found one.

She asked not to be named, but this doc has been in medicine for 20+ years and this is what she had to say:

ln a controlled situation that sort of blood loss requires immediate action - and because it is a controlled situation, loss of life is unlikely. Unless his heart stopped because of his blood loss, I would not call it a near death experience.

What I get from that is this: Foster was in a hospital, surrounded by doctors, a blood bank, and likely dozens of people monitoring every aspect of his well being. This is as controlled a situation as you can be in when injured, and thus not in any real danger of dying.

I am not, in any way, shape, or form questioning that this was a severe injury. I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. Hell, I wouldn't even wish it on Dater. I am not questioning that Fozzie was hurt very badly. I also agree 100% with the fact that touch icing is stupid and completely unnecessary. 

What I do not agree with is a TSN reporter using scare tactics to sell a story. This would have been an interesting and compelling story without that. No one in the article says anything about anyone dying, and no doctors are sourced in the article.

We are left wondering... who says he almost died? Foster doesn't say that. Whoever wrote the article on TSN's site doesn't say that. A doctor says that it is "unlikely" he would have died. In medical speak "unlikely" is as close as they come to saying "not going to happen." 

The only one who says Foster "almost died" is Mr. Rishaug. I do not know his credentials, but I am willing to bet my Hockey Wilderness salary that Mr. Rishaug is not working for TSN with his medical degree.

So, while Foster suffered a terrible injury, and the rule should most certainly be changed, there was no need for the hyperbole. Anyone who has seen the video above doesn't need to be sold on just how bad it was. 

Mr. Rishaug should be ashamed of himself for making such a claim.