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Peck Leaves Ch. 4 Sunday; Sabres Earn Media Win-Win

Will Channel 4 sports-reporter anchor Paul Peck be allowed to say a goodbye to his audience on his last night at the station Sunday?

There are no rules on allowing veteran reporters to do so, which is one reason why you never know these days if Channel 4 executives will allow goodbyes.

If anyone deserves to be allowed to say goodbye, it is Peck, a good soldier who has spent 24 years at the station and agreed to stay on for weeks to help out the sports department until the NFL Draft ends this weekend.

For his part, Peck doesn’t seem that concerned if he doesn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye as his TV career ends and he goes to work in the financial community.

Paul Peck: Will He Get to Say Goodbye?

“It hasn’t been discussed,” Peck said of whether he will get to say goodbye. “It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve never felt it would be about me. If I get to thank everybody, that would be great.”

The bigger question is how long will it take Channel 4 to replace Peck and sports director John Murphy, who is expected to leave some time in June to work full-time for the Buffalo Bills and do a WGR radio show. Murphy still hasn’t confirmed that.

The Buffalo Sabres decision not to hold a season-ending press conference has understandably raised some eyebrows in the journalistic community, especially over at One News Plaza.

Buffalo News sports columnist Jerry Sullivan noted recently that Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier told him to ask Mike Gilbert, the team’s public relations head, about why the decision was made. To which Sullivan added at the end of an entertaining notes column, “way to throw the employee under the bus, Darc!”

I asked Gilbert if he felt like Regier threw him under the bus.

“No, not in the least,” said Gilbert. “I bet Darcy didn’t even know it was in the paper. He doesn’t read the paper. Darcy was referring to having information (on why the decision was made). It was not like he was saying it was my fault. We decided as an organization not to have a year-end press conference. The players were available, the general manager, the coach and the president were available when asked for interviews. We just decided not to have one general press conference as we have in the past.”

To say the least, it was unusual to do things that way and you certainly understand if The News hockey writers were upset about it. Journalistically, I’m on their side. It was an outrage. The Sabres’ decision made their executives look as soft as some of their players.

But putting on my public relations hat, I can’t blame the Sabres. I don’t know what their reasons were for dropping the press conference. But it certainly didn’t hurt getting their message across after a disappointing season in which they didn’t make the playoffs despite a spending spree.

The disappointment is even greater now that Los Angeles and Washington beat much higher seeds and so many lower seeds in the playoffs have reached Game 7s, proving just getting in is so important.

The truth is that press conferences can be controlled by the newspaper writers who have covered the team and generally are the most knowledgeable and most negative of all media. If Regier doesn’t read the newspaper, perhaps he doesn’t know that columnist Bucky Gleason leads columnist Jerry Sullivan in calling for his head in print by a vote of 62-61. (I think that is only a slight exaggeration).

Heaven knows, the Sabres have given The News writers plenty of reasons to be negative. However, it wasn’t so long ago that the reporters covering the team played good cop-bad cop. There usually was one guy at the newspaper who wasn’t snarky and who might get close enough to team executives to know what was going on. It is hard to see who is playing the good cop now and getting any executive insight.

By declining to carry a season-ending press conference, the Sabres were able to avoid any possible negativity from the print media getting on TV. They got their message out with the help of TV and radio media questioners who are easy to control, rarely ask any of the tough questions and are softer than most Sabre forwards.

In that case, dropping the press conference and doing individual interviews was a win-win for the team executives. They got their message across on TV and ticked off the newspaper writers who have been understandably tougher on them.

Speaking of journalism outrage, Sports Illustrated was the first to report that the NFL isn’t allowing its own network or ESPN to show players on the phone before they are drafted tonight on the theory that ruins suspense. Sure, it ruins suspense. But the edict is another example of how the NFL controls the media, which should be allowed to do its job the way it wants. Of course, ESPN and the NFL Network are partners with the league and aren’t about to argue.

I’m not a big fan of mock drafts, which can be blown up with early trades. But over the years I’ve learned that NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had a great batting average in the Tom Modrak era predicting who the Bills take. On Wednesday, Mayock had the Bills taking Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, just before Kansas City picks Alabama strong safety Mark Barron and three picks before Arizona takes Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

What doESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose and Channel 4 meteorologist Pope Don Paul have in common? They both get paid well for being wrong. On “Pardon the Interruption” Wednesday afternoon, Melrose was certain than the Boston Bruins would beat the Washington Capitals in game 7 and he called host Tony Kornheiser “stupid” for suggesting otherwise. Of course, if we’ve learned anything this postseason it is that it is stupid to predict playoff hockey games. The Caps won in overtime.


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1 response to "Peck Leaves Ch. 4 Sunday; Sabres Earn Media Win-Win"

  1. Rob says:

    Some notes while wondering what happened to Wadi Sawabini:

    Best of luck to Paul Peck; a class act and as you said a loyal soldier to the crumbling reigns of Channel 4. Paul has had a chance to say good-bye to many on his Twitter page so at least he was able to accomplish that in case it doesn’t happen during his final broadcast.

    You can put a fur coat on a skunk but it’s still a skunk; Darcy and upper management not having a season ending press conference speaks to how wimpy this regime is. Remember when the new owner came to town and happy days were here again?? Now we miss the playoffs(again), Ted Black says that’s a good thing in the overall scheme to win a Stanley Cup (like Quinn’s mulligan) and yet we have no communication on what went wrong and what needs to be done from their perspective. The President Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks flamed out in the first round yet 48hrs later the GM was front and center to face the media. The difference between being a leader and hiding under a desk.

    It’s a sign of the times that ESPN and the NFL Network are caving to the powers to be at league headquarters. Nobody would dare bite the hand that feeds them the tremendous profit machine known as the NFL.

    For all its lack of coverage with the NHL on ESPN, I don’t know why they stick with a guy like Melrose. He played in an area from two generations ago and has the “ole time hockey” mentality that is a dinosaur in today’s game. If Melrose had done his homework, he would know that in the past 19 years the home teams during the NHL Playoffs have a winning percentage of less than 60%. That is the lowest of all the home teams of all the major sports for home playoff games. I guy I’d love to see on ESPN, or a more prominent role with hockey broadcasts, is Kevin Weeks. He’s not that far removed from the game and has a great perspective on the going on in todays NHL.

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