Bobby Ryan saga could alter reality in the NHL

Bobby Ryan got to wear a Team USA jersey when his candidacy was announced last August, but barring an injury, he won't wearing one in Sochi. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The often incoherent, grammatically challenged ramblings of a man who has watched too much sports, listened to too much music and devoured too many club sandwiches.

There has been an NHL/media firestorm recently about the public manner in which Bobby Ryan, a Cherry Hill native, was left off the U.S. Olympic team.

The public part of it came about because Team USA granted reporter Scott Burnside of ESPN an all-access pass to its deliberations, and he did one heckuva job documenting the entire process.

It was a fascinating story, but the most publicly intriguing aspect was the suggestions by Team USA honcho Brian Burke that perhaps Ryan didn’t have the intensity required. The irony here is that Burke has always been an advocate of Ryan, and indeed he was on Burke’s final version of the roster.

No matter, the words of warning were public, and when Ryan was left off the initial roster, Team USA general manager David Poile was left in the odd position of having to apologize for some of the remarks.

There are really no bad guys here; Burke was being honest, Poile was being open, and a part of Ryan’s game was being criticized.

The only villain – if you want to call it that -- is the idea itself of an embedded reporter. The after-the-fact “problem” in this case is that it was a real reporter doing a great job. It was not a case of somebody paid by the league or a team on a website to put out a detailed – but carefully edited — version of what took place.

It was a great job by Burnside, but it is likely to be one of the final nails in the actual reality of these all-access stories, whether in print, television, or whatever other medium.

The popular HBO 24/7 series leading up to the Winter Classic was relatively boring this year. The opinion here is that once Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov basically blew up his career in Philadelphia with his entertaining antics in that 24/7 edition, it was a warning for everybody to make sure there was a big speed bump between their brains and their mouths.

Suddenly, the cameras were not so much a welcome reality, but an intrusion and a reminder to watch what you say and do.

Thus, despite all of the new avenues of media, we are left with the never-ending reality that the best way to get the truth in any story will be to gain your own access.

This was a great job of reporting, and the fallout will be what it has always been — in order to get stories such as this in the future you will have rely on great reporting, without the help of an all-access pass.

You can bet that at some point, Ryan’s snub and Burke’s feelings would have eventually been sniffed out, perhaps by the likes of Burnside, USA Today’s Kevin Allen, Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe, or somebody else who was not part of the process.

Those all-access passes will now come with an even heavier price to pay in terms of final editing. Guaranteed.

And if the Flyers are invited to play in the next winter Classic against Washington, you can bet orange and black masking tape will be the new mouth guards when the HBO cameras are around to guard against someone saying something stupid.


Al Morganti is a member of the WIP Morning Show (94.1 FM) weekday mornings from 5:30 til 10 and a hockey analyst for Comcast SportsNet. His twitter handle is @nufced.

Al Morganti is a member of the WIP Morning Show (94.1 FM) weekday mornings from 5:30 til 10 and a hockey analyst for Comcast SportsNet. His twitter handle is @nufced.