NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 02: Kris Versteeg #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks warms up before playing against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on April 2, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
If there's anything I've learned in the last few months or so, it's that people who start rumors are usually just grasping at straws. They want so badly to be the one who BROKE THE STORY, ultimately so that they become FAMOUS and people VISIT THEIR WEBSITE, that they'll literally just throw anything at the wall and hope it sticks. (Nevermind the fact that the easiest way to get noticed and respected in this business is to have smart opinions, smart
Whether it's analyzing a meaningless list of scouts attending a particular game -- which means nothing; you realize they get paid to watch hockey and they do this all year, not just at the deadline, right? -- or trying to work the salary cap non-stop until they find some loophole that nobody's realized yet, these people just do this stuff to look like some kind of insider.
It's actually kind of funny, when you think about -- that is, besides the fact that all they're doing is making more work for the reputable among us. Fortunately, you don't need to be an insider to see where rumors start. All you need is a few minutes and a search engine.
There's this one that's been circulating around for a few days now that the Philadelphia Flyers are interested in Kris Versteeg. The obvious part is that OF COURSE they're interested in Kris Versteeg. He's a nice player, he's young, he's cheap, he's a winger and he's apparently available (although I question that, too, because he's the exact kind of player Brian Burke would want to build around in Toronto). He'd be a great addition to any team -- not just the Flyers.
But that's the thing. I guess that's the beauty of rumors in that they usually just state the obvious. Sure, the Flyers are interested. I'm sure they were interested in Wayne Gretzky once too, but that doesn't mean they went out and got him.
So why the hell has this risen to the level that its been picked up by Yahoo! and its been mentioned in the comments on this site several times over the last few days, then? Ah, let's find the origin.
That Yahoo! link really does make it look reputable, but let's look at exactly where its housed over there. It's not on Puck Daddy or on their main NHL page. It's on a blog called Scoop Du Jour, which basically just aggregates rumor news from other sources. There's no original reporting there. It's just an aggregator.
Here's what writer Mark J. Martin said:
Versteeg helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last year and could be helping the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers soon enough. Those are two of the teams thought to be interested in Versteeg.
Yahoo! cited a story in the National Post on the Leafs potentially trading Versteeg. In that story, there's not one mention of the Flyers at all. There's a mention of the Boston Bruins but no sign of anything Philadelphia in there. Not even a sniff.
Where did Yahoo! come up with it, then? If you pull up Google and type in "flyers versteeg", you only get one real result. It's not Toronto's Globe and Mail or another National Post story or TSN or anybody else. It's Bleacher Report.
Ahem, the Flyers scout every team in the NHL. There are 30 teams. Not three.
Philadelphia has also apparently been shopping around for a winger, most likely for Mike Richards to play with. With that said, the Toronto Maple Leafs have let it be known that they are "not done dealing yet"-even with the trades they have made so far-which only leads people to believe that Toronto is open for business.
If that is the case, the Flyers would be wise to take a hard look at Kris Versteeg. He would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia and could compliment somebody like Richards very well. Versteeg wouldn't exactly break the bank for Philadelphia either, so he is most certainly a very real option.
With only 18 days left until the trade deadline, it won't be long before we see what the Flyers have up their sleeve. They're definitely up to something, that I can say with certainty.
And there's the source of your rumor. His name is Mike Pantaleone, and he's a "Flyers Featured Columnist" at Bleacher Report. In addition to this Versteeg fabrication, he's written such
stories slideshows as 'Philadelphia Flyers Trade Rumors: Five Players Most Likely on the Trade Block" (No. 5 is Ville Leino) and "NHL 2011: 50 Bold Predictions for the Second Half of the NHL Season," where Dustin Byfuglien is apparently a "lock" for the Norris.
This guy has never been in the press box at a Flyers game. If I'm wrong, he can come shake my hand on Sunday. I'm usually in Seat 35. He's not an insider (neither am I, for the record -- nor do I necessarily wish to be) and thus, he cannot say with certainty that the Flyers are up to something. Frankly, he doesn't know what he's talking about.
Here's the unfortunate truth about Bleacher Report. The writers over there are mostly young and they're mostly all looking to make a name for themselves, which is a noble cause to be sure. We all start somewhere. Most of them seemingly just don't understand the right way to do that.
There isn't much in terms of editorial oversight, so while it's true that B/R recently got rid of a lot of the lower quality writers there, the ones who are still there are able to basically publish whatever they want -- that is, after it's optimized for search.
With B/R's unbelievable search strategy, those rumors are fed to anybody using Google. You've seen it. If you search almost any term in sports, you'll get B/R drivel in your results. Most of it, sadly, is stuff like this -- just baseless speculation with no root in truth.
Unfortunately, a lot of people see it on Google and automatically think its for real. "I mean, Google linked to it. Google wouldn't steer me wrong!'
Thousands of people read this stuff and as a result, they spread like wildfire. I understand that we can't stop Bleacher Report from doing what they're doing -- low quality, large scale content -- but those of us who are trying to do real work here have a responsibility.
The Yahoo! writer, Mark J. Martin, didn't live up to that responsibility in this case. He didn't cite his source on this rumor and as a result, it became more than just another B/R piece of BS. We can shrug it off and ignore it when it's at Bleacher Report simply because we know better. When it hits Yahoo!, we can't do that anymore.
So here's the long and short of it, because I know that after writing 1,000 words on this, the Flyers are going to go out and trade for Kris Versteeg. It's a plausible idea. Like I said, he's cheap, he's a winger, he'd be a great addition. He's won a Cup.
But there's no reason to think, beyond the fact that it does indeed make sense, that Paul Holmgren and the Flyers are going after the guy. There's no "insider" saying that they're in on him. There's no "source" here at all. It's just a nice little possibility to think about. Nothing more, nothing less.