Everyone knows the controversy about Tampa Bay and their “1-3-1″ defense. And virtually everyone knows by now, that it drove the Philadelphia Flyers and the broadcasters on Versus batty. It led Mike Milbury to walk off the set in a bit of a protest. So, Steve Yzerman decided that it was all done because Versus has a bias, as reported by The Bolts Report -
“Versus is owned by Comcast, Comcast owns the Flyers, Keith Jones is a broadcaster with the Flyers and is hardly impartial,’’ Yzerman said. “I think that anybody that looks at that objectively should be saying, “Did Tampa do the right thing or Did Philadelphia do the right thing’’ and you can make an argument both ways.’’
Sure, there’s a conflict of interest there. But, the hockey world is loaded with conflicts. I’ve mentioned that many times before. It is why I believe Versus should not have their broadcasters working for any other teams. Ed Olczyk is a walking and talking conflict when it comes to calling Chicago games. Even if he were to walk away from his regional work, those conflicts are still there. From knowing people in the front office, to sharing agents, having friends on teams, etc., the league’s commentators are never going to be fully independent. It’s never going to happen because it’s impossible.
But there’s one area where I see Yzerman as a hypocrite on this subject. One of Stevie’s best friends is Darren Pang. Their friendship goes back to when they were teenagers. This is the same Darren Pang that has called games that Yzerman has played in and the same Pang that calls games involving Tampa. Should Pang recuse himself or have a disclaimer? Does Yzerman think this is fair? How impartial can Pang be when he’s calling games that directly effect his best friend? Heck, how many viewers even know that Pang and Yzerman are best friends? It’s not like Pang or Yzerman have brought it up regularly and it rarely comes up during any television broadcast.
My guess is that Yzerman would defend Pang and find anyone questioning Pang’s integrity as being off base. This case isn’t much different. Yes, the Flyers/Comcast connection doesn’t look good on paper but I think that’s about it. I don’t think there’s any blatant rooting going on in the Versus studio for them. I don’t remember many people questioning if ESPN was biased when Disney owned the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. It was never really brought up although Anaheim did get its share of games on the air, considering they were underachievers at that time. I think the Versus relationship with the Flyers is quite similar. If Darren Pang can call games involving Steve Yzerman, than Yzerman should have no issue with Keith Jones stating his opinion on Flyer games.
Milbury walks off the Versus set in protest -
Darren Pang hosts Steve Yzerman’s retirement ceremony -