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National Newspaper Award (Canada) nominations announced

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Double J, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. Double J

    Double J Active Member


    The sports category nominees are:

    "Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette for a critical feature on former Canadiens' goaltender Patrick Roy who had his number retired;"

    Link to feature

    "Steve Milton of the Hamilton Spectator for story on the near-fatal hockey incident when Florida Panthers' Richard Zednik's throat was slashed by a skate blade;"

    Link to feature

    "Randy Turner, Winnipeg Free Press, for a study of the premature deaths and long-term injuries of professional football players."

    Link to feature *NOTE, this is a VERY long feature, more than 8,200 words*

    Fisher (twice) and Turner are both previous winners of the NNA for sports. IMO, Milton should join their ranks this year, because his column is clearly the best of the three here (no, I am not Steve Milton, nor have I ever met him before). Turner had a good idea but he ran WAAAAY too long with it, and Fisher's column is so pedestrian he could have written it in his sleep. Considering his age (82), he may very well have done just that.

    Past winners of the NNA for sports
  2. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    Fisher won. Here's his winning piece. It's a good feature but there's nothing special about it as far as I'm concerned.....hardly what I would expect of a National Newspaper Award winner. And that's not so much jealousy as it is a simple point that, as often as not, the byline is more responsible for the award than is the content of the entry. What a shame. :(

    The Gazette

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Patrick Roy sat there during this late-afternoon news conference in mid-September after the announcement that his No. 33 would be retired tonight, handling questions with the sure hands of a Gold Glove shortstop.

    Canadiens vice-president (communications) Donald Beauchamp pointed a finger at me.

    "Got a question for Patrick?" he asked.

    "Not really," he was told. "Just wanted to say hello. Hi there, Patrick." Roy looked up.

    "I am very happy to see you here," he said.

    "I'll bet you are," he was told.

    A small smile worked at the corners of his mouth when Roy turned to the standing-room-only crowd: "When I joined the team, he didn't talk to me for two years," he said.

    Everybody laughed.

    Roy always has known how to play to a crowd. Never let the facts spoil a good story.

    The fact is, I talked to him after a playoff game at the Forum in 1986 when, as a 20-year-old rookie, he was the only reason the Canadiens won their 23rd Stanley Cup. Here was a kid, barely out of his teens, and he was in a zone of his own. He had gone into the game that night with a remarkable 1.72 goals-against average.

    "Are you surprised at this number?" I asked him.

    Roy had the response most goalies have when they're on a roll.

    "The guys in front of me played well," he said. "They blocked a lot of shots. I could see the puck all night." Time to go.

    Later, I learned that after I left the dressing room, he turned to reporter Yvon Pedneault and said: "I'm not surprised at my goals-against. I'm surprised he talked to me." The Hall of Famer, now 43, will have an exclamation point added to his brilliant Canadiens on-ice journey with the retirement of his number - the Canadiens' 15th player and 14th number. He always has been lightning-quick firing from the lip. A Wyatt Earp in goalie pads. You can love him or hate him, but he's never been dull.

    How, for example, do you top this gem in response to Jeremy Roenick's sour comments during the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs: "I didn't hear him because my two Stanley Cup rings were plugging my ears!" Or how about the time Roy met Wayne Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings in the 1993 Cup final, and after making a brilliant stop the television camera caught him arrogantly winking at Tomas Sandstrom.

    Roy was a man of many faces throughout his one-of-a-kind career. Pleasant one minute, a mean and unforgiving SOB the next.

    The Patrick Roy who came to play and to win every night could be abrasive, controlling and vindictive, but in no way does it diminish his accomplishments. His NHL-high 551 wins (289 in 551 regular-season games with the Canadiens) speak for him. His 70 wins in 114 playoff games do. So do two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe trophies and three Vézinas with the Canadiens.

    Can anyone forget the night in 1986 when Roy stopped the first 13 shots he faced in a conference final overtime game against the New York Rangers? I can't. There he was, turning aside at least a half dozen spectacular scoring opportunities by the Rangers, who had 13 shots - until Claude Lemieux scored the winner on the Canadiens' third. I still remember it as the best playoff overtime performance by a Canadiens goaltender.

    How good was Roy in his rookie year? Bobby Smith, who was on the 1986 team, doesn't hesitate to describe him as a "key player." "Patrick won the Conn Smythe that year and it was just the start of a wonderful career for him," Smith said.

    His view is echoed by his linemate Mats Naslund, who scored 110 points that year.

    "The Patrick I remember was liked by the entire team. He didn't go around picking friends. He was liked by everyone. And even then, at his age, he was a leader in the dressing room. He used to walk around the room telling the players to 'Come on,' or 'Let's go'.

    "I remember one time Patrick was going around the room telling the guys, 'Let's go ... let's go.' When he passed Bobby, he tapped him on the head and Smith's nose started to bleed. Smitty wasn't a happy man," Naslund said.

    "He's the best goaltender I've ever played with," Naslund added. "We wouldn't have won the Cup without him."

    Fast forward now to 1993. The Canadiens lost the first two games in Quebec, the first in overtime. They won the next four, two of them in overtime. More importantly, the Canadiens won eight more overtime games en route to their last Stanley Cup to set playoff records for the most overtime wins in one season and the most consecutive overtime wins. They are records to keep forever, because they'll never be matched. Never, because he did the impossible in '93.

    "We went down to Quebec and lost the first two games," Kirk Muller recalled. "Our plane broke down, so we went back to the hotel for a team dinner, and I remember Serge Savard getting to his feet at the table. 'I just want to speak really quickly here. I just want to say something.'

    "We're down two-zip in the series and all of us thought: 'Oh boy, here we go,' I don't even know to this day whether he meant it or not. He stood up and very calmly said: 'I've watched you guys play lately, and if you continue to play the way you are, you'll win this series.' That was it. He sat down.

    "We came back to Montreal and it was like ... the guy's right. We can win, I thought. I didn't know we were going to win the Cup, but we felt we were going to beat Quebec."

    Said Guy Carbonneau, who was the captain of the '93 team: "About the 10 overtime games we won ... you know, I don't think we kinda realized it until pretty much at the end there .... until six or seven. That's when we started to talk more about a record ... and things like that. I think you're so focused and so concentrated on trying to win games because you want to win the Stanley Cup, we didn't talk a whole lot about the overtime wins. For me, for most of the guys, it was all about winning.

    "With Patrick, he got more and more confident as the playoffs went on. He wasn't nervous. Close to the third period or going into overtime, he didn't act nervous. A lot of times, he'd go around the room and say: 'C'mon guys, they're not gonna score.' He didn't have time to be nervous. Amazing, really."

    The suggestion has been made that, in the view of many people, Roy abdicated his rights to tonight's honour with his capitulation to irrationalism on Dec. 2, 1995, when a stunned Forum crowd saw him allow nine goals on 26 shots in an 11-1 meltdown to the Detroit Red Wings. It was only then that he was taken out of the game by coach Mario Tremblay.

    Anyone who was there or viewed the game on television can still see a furious Roy shouldering his way past Tremblay toward an empty seat on the bench, turning, forcing his way past Tremblay to Canadiens president Ronald Corey sitting in the first row behind the bench, leaning over and telling him he had played his last game with the team. That film clip has been shown over and over again in the years since then. Four days later, he was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche.

    After that shameful episode, who would have known this night would ever have arrived?

    Not Roy, I suspect. And surely not Savard, the Canadiens GM who selected Roy with the third-round choice he received from Winnipeg in the 1984 entry draft after sending defenceman Robert Picard to the Jets on Nov. 4, 1983.

    "I've made some good trades," Savard once told me. "I've also made some bad ones.

    "Tell me," he added, "when you think about the best goaltender in Canadiens history ... (Jacques) Plante ... (Ken) Dryden ... Roy ... who do you go for? You wouldn't be wrong if you picked Roy. If he's not the best the NHL has ever seen, he's at least near the top."

    Roy was the 51st player selected in the draft in which Mario Lemieux was everybody's No. 1 overall choice, but don't get the idea from this astonishing steal that Savard knew something about Roy nobody else did. As a junior, Roy had goals-against averages that went through the roof. Other teams thought so little of him, two goalies (Craig Billington and Daryl Reaugh) were drafted ahead of him.

    Petr Svoboda was the Canadiens' first pick that year, No. 5 overall. Shayne Corson was selected No. 8. Roy's junior teammate, Stéphane Richer, was a second-round pick, No. 29 overall.

    "I guess you could say we took a chance drafting Patrick," Savard said. "I mean ... he was playing for the worst junior team in Canada (the Granby Bisons), and nobody really knew how he would turn out. We sent him to Sherbrooke (of the American Hockey League) in 1985 after he was through with junior hockey, and we won the Calder Cup with him. A year later, he was taking us to the Stanley Cup.

    "He never really played in the minors," Savard added. "The one thing you had to say about Patrick is that he came to play every night. He wanted to win every night.

    "The thing about Patrick is that he was a leader, but he took up a lot of room, know what I mean? He wasn't a leader like (Jean) Béliveau, who thinks about everything before doing anything. Patrick was spontaneous. Too much, maybe, but that was Patrick."

    There will be nothing spontaneous about Patrick tonight. Like the 14 players before him whose numbers hang in the Bell Centre rafters, there'll be moments when he'll be fighting back tears and even a gold-glover like Roy doesn't know whether he'll be able to stop them on this night.

    The retirement of his sweater number is all about emotion, about family and about the good times he enjoyed in his great years with the Canadiens.

    It's about a 20-year-old winning the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy in his rookie season.

    It's about winning a second Smythe en route to his second Stanley Cup after doing the impossible in '93.

    It's about having his number alongside those who have been the very best to wear the Canadiens sweater during the past century.

    It's about being welcomed home by Canadiens fans.

    It doesn't get better than that.
  3. ballscribe

    ballscribe Active Member

    You also have to submit your work for consideration, something many don't bother doing.
  4. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    Oh, I know. I just felt that, of the three finalists, Steve Milton's piece was clearly the best.....head and shoulders above Fisher's.
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