From The Ice Rink to The Coffee Shop
In a world so obsessed with social media, it is easy to forget the fragility of life and how fast things can change. This leads many to question where the line is when it comes to covering more personal stories.
Recently former NHL forward Donald Brasher was seen working at a Tim Hortons in Quebec City, Canada.
Brashear, who had earned roughly $16 million during his 16-year NHL career, has had a difficult time transitioning to the regular world following his retirement from professional hockey in 2015. His difficulties with substance abuse and other legal troubles have been well documented by various Canadian news outlets.
Originally, the story on Brashner’s new job was reported by Canada’s National Post. Their original post was deleted because they used a photo of a different former player, Georges Laraque.
So, the National Post just ran a photo of Georges Laraque in a story about Donald Brashear. pic.twitter.com/EHh4hAaP8E
— Luke LeBrun (@_llebrun) October 16, 2019
The National Post later apologized for their negligence after Laraque tweeted them.
Hi Georges, we're sorry for the misattribution, there was a mistake in the photo's caption from our wire service. The photo has been changed. https://t.co/gEWCqT7xRp
— National Post (@nationalpost) October 16, 2019
This sparked a media firestorm covering the relatively minor story amongst the usual hustle and bustle of the NHL season. Many of the reactions demonized the article as a whole because of its dehumanizing and tabloid nature.
Donald Brashear’s made some mistakes in his life but is now trying to live and work on the straight and narrow. It’s peak 2019 for anyone to rip this man.
— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) October 16, 2019
Several major Canadian outlets were quick to cover the story, with CTV and The Montreal Gazette taking a broader approach.
— CTV News (@CTVNews) October 16, 2019
— Montreal Gazette (@mtlgazette) October 16, 2019
Not all of the reactions were in complete opposition to The National Post. One of the publication’s former writers defended the companies photo mishap while also criticizing their choice to cover the story.
To be fair to my former colleagues at the National Post, that Donald Brashear story making the rounds is a Canadian Press story likely autopublished to the website. The photo attached probably came from CP too. However …
— Guy Spurrier (@grspur) October 16, 2019
Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman wrote about Brashear in his most recent 31 Thoughts. His thoughts encapsulate the public reaction and a genuine care Brashear.
Ultimately, the story is about a man who once lived in the public eye and was admired for the role he played on the ice. The publicized stories reflect the negative aspects of his station and professional career, rather than what he has had to overcome.
The entire story is summed up in a tweet from ESPN’s senior hockey writer, Greg Wyshynski.
He was busted for drugs. He's hurting for $$$. Like other ex-pro athletes, he's likely looking for a path or purpose. So he's taken a proactive step with the help from an ex-player friend. That's the Donald Brashear story I read. Not sure about you. https://t.co/TETTvJ5i0w
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 16, 2019