William Houston's skirmish with bloggers continues

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I usually have mixed feelings when bloggers and/or newspaper people get into slap fights. On some level, it’s uncomfortable because usually both sides bring something to the table; while a blogger might have a better sense of number crunching and snarky analysis, a columnist often brings years of experience to his or her writing. That being said, there’s certainly a rubbernecking vibe too; despite the lyrical gore in front of your eyes, it’s hard to look away from the credibility-damaging carnage.

This case started when William Houston, a former Globe & Mail columnist, wrote a column disparaging current Globe & Mail reporter (and blogger pioneer) James Mirtle. Here’s an excerpt from the shocking slam-piece.

The biggest joke in 2009-10, unfortunately, was the spectacle of James Mirtle attempting to function as a Globe and Mail hockey writer. A statistics wonk with limited journalistic skills, poor James struggled, to say the least.

While Mirtle took the high road and chose not to respond, plenty of other bloggers and writers did. Houston responded with a post that was ultimately deleted later on, but like many other mistakes made on the Internet, someone kept a copy of their own. But the Internet tussle took another step toward the absurd when Houston exchanged some rather embarrassing e-mails with Julian from the popular Toronto Maple Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets. Here’s the worst of the lot, with one expletive deleted.

From: William Houston

Oh, I’ve been taking shots at friends of yours. Oh noooo. I feel so badly. Truth is, you’re a pathetic piece of [expletive deleted] who can’t function as a real journalist so you operate that awful blog. Struck a nerve, didn’t I Julian? Because you’re a pathetic hack who can’t write and will never amount anything. By the time I was in my 30s I’d written two best selling books. You? You’re a nothing. Nobody knows who you are or cares. Good luck pal. You’ll need it.

Ultimately, the situation was flat-out uncomfortable and unfortunate. The typical bloggers versus journalists jokes were trotted out (comments about technological confusion lobbed at newspaper veterans, quips about mother’s basements thrown at bloggers). Houston might or might not come out looking the worst, but aside from some cheap Web site hits, does anyone come out better? As time goes on, newspaper people and “basement dwellers” will learn to co-exist. Sure, there are moments that are darkly entertaining, but I dream of a day in which we can all just get along.

PHT Morning Skate: Legendary broadcaster Doc Emrick sits down with HBO Real Sports

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Legendary broadcaster Doc Emrick sat down with Andrea Kremer to discuss his 40 years in hockey. (Above)

Watch as a group of people (including some former NHLers) take part in a pond hockey game on the Rocky Mountains. (Bardown)

Check out Josh Jooris and Johnny Gaudreau‘s crib:

Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser explains why Brad Marchand deserved a penalty for his collision with Henrik Lundqvist. (TSN)

The EIHL’s Braehead Clan suited up in a kilt-like uniform.

Today’s the day you can start voting for your 2016 NHL All-Stars. (NHL.com)

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”