Price-Markov Spat: Much Ado About Nothing

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2010

(photo credit: Pierre Obendrauf, Gazette)

posted by Rocket
All Habs

Those of us at the Canadiens' practise today in Brossard were treated to a unique moment. While reporters spend their time challenging members of hockey teams, there is rarely an opportunity for players and coaches to send messages back. When it happens, it usually ends badly. Think Rangers coach John Tortorella with New York Post scribe Larry Brooks.

Close to the end of the practise, Carey Price skated towards Andrei Markov near center ice and gave him a big bear hug. Price then glanced up to the media gallery with a grin. Message sent, and done so brilliantly.

Yesterday, on the Team 990, morning host Tony Marinaro reported a "scoop" that after the Canadiens game with the St. Louis Blues which the Habs lost in overtime, Markov said to Price, "If you're not going to play with heart, we don't need you, go home."

Marinaro also reported that players joined in on each side. Tony then spent the rest of the show talking about a divided dressing room, players not being able to work with each other, and inferring all sorts of ramifications of such an incident.

As I posted yesterday on Twitter and at The Montreal Forum, I don't doubt that parts of this story are true. For that matter, the quote may even be close to accurate. What bothers me was the spin being trumpeted by Marinaro.

If words were exchanged between Markov and Price, so be it. It is something that happens all the time in professional sports, especially following a tough loss. The reality is that the players probably forgot about it soon after. Other players joining in the argument or trying to calm things should not be interpreted as players lining up behind one player or the other.

If the quote is true, it is somewhat odd that Markov would have questioned Price on the night he was willing to drop the gloves with Blues tough guy Cam Janssen. Also keep in mind, the Markov could have been upset at himself when he had the opportunity to score in overtime. And in calm reflection, Markov probably would recognize that. But this was a heat of the moment. A snapshot. Yet Marinaro chose to promote it as a divisive event.

Imagine yourself at work, at home or socializing. Are there any snapshot moments that, taken out of context, could be misinterpreted if examined by one self-interested media personality along with a group of enthusiastic but not always logical sports fans?

I also think that Marinaro knew exactly what he was doing. I have never seen the amount of irrational hatred for a franchise player as there has been in Montreal towards Price. Marinaro knew the attention he would get personally by lighting the match to an already volatile situation.

Trying to be the news rather than reporting it is irresponsible and unprofessional in my opinion. We already have far too many examples of that in Montreal and it is very disappointing to see Marinaro join their ranks.

I don't expect that Marinaro would reveal his "solid source" but if it was Georges Laraque as some have alleged, does that taint our opinion of the information? Laraque was dumped by the team the day after this supposed incident. And we can't deny that Laraque is more interested in off-ice drama than his job on the ice. In that case, is it any more than a case of sour grapes?

Marinaro's Team 990 colleague, Mitch Melnyk, reported that Tony's source was someone outside the Canadiens locker room. "The fact that it leaked out (not by anybody in the Habs dressing room) is terribly unfortunate."

Laraque is no longer in the Habs dressing room but would have been there the night of the incident. There are other possibilities.

If we speculate a little, and this is only speculation, can we imagine a scenario where Jaroslav Halak's agent Allan Walsh provided information to Tony about this incident? Does Walsh fit Melnyk's description? Is there any history to go on? In the past, has Walsh ever tried to ignite a story that was intended to trash Price, and advance his client? Hmmm.

During the reporting of his 'scoop', there was something else that Marinaro said that really bothered me. He claimed that players may be treated more favorably in the media if they were a source of information. Marinaro said it as if it was a well known reality. That may be Marinaro's way of doing business but I don't buy it as a universal practise.

So, continuing with our earlier example, if Alan Walsh is one of Tony's sources (and I'm not saying that he is) then Halak would receive favorable press. So when I hear certain media praise one player and criticize another, am I left to wonder if it is only because the player has or hasn't provided information? I believe that Marinaro has just skewered his own credibility without realizing it.

After the practise today, the media were anxious to get reactions from the players. For his part, Markov wasn't playing along.

"If you're looking for bad story," said Markov, "you find the wrong guy. Sorry."

Markov continued, "You're supposed to help us right now because we have a tough time right now. But anything happen in the room is going to be stay in the room."

When asked about the embrace from Price, Markov said "We are family. We love each other. We're going to have lunch together after that."

And so it goes. Besides someone's personal ambitions, this was much ado about nothing.


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