1. A man who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements, especially between aggrieved parties such as consumers or students and an institution or organization
2. A government official, especially in Scandinavian countries, who investigates citizens’ complaints against the government or its functionaries
3. The magical period in a night out where you’ve cocktailed enough to feel brilliant-invincible and convinced nobody knows you’ve had seven Jack Daniels
“If it’s not growing, it’s going to die.” That prophetic bit of guidance is etched on top of the solid marble commode here at TPL world headquarters, right next to the stack of emergency $100′s and the red phone that only dials Keith Richard’s prostitute-n-drug hookup. The great’ish Michael Eisner is responsible for uttering that phrase, and even if he did so right before getting tossed on his ass by Disney’s board, it’s still a sentiment we take to heart.
About six months ago, we had McKinsey (…no, this McKinsey) come in and evaluate TPL’s potential and help us chart a course forward. While their her general conclusion was that we’re virtually un-improvable from a content, process and profitability standpoint, things got interesting when they she boiled the conversation down to one simple question:
Who do you want to be?
Vintage Beverlee, always grinding mass confusion down to focus.
We threw around a few ideas…a few markers we wanted to chart TPL towards. Do we want to be the Google equivalent in the hockey blogsphere? Are we destined for a life of continued fame and easy women as the Burt Reynolds of Red Wings storytellers?
The conversation eventually turned to media outlets we admire, and that’s where things started to take shape. The NY Times. PBS. Penthouse. What do all these outlets have in common?
They all have ombudsmans.
Arthur Brisbane and Michael Getler use the space to analyze and react to the content at the NYT and PBS. While it’s a bit navel-gazing, the columns provide a final punctuation mark on a recent debate. Penthouse (link unavailable, because we’re decent’ish like that) carries the ombudsman concept with their own flair in the Penthouse Letters section, where they explore pressing commentary and insightful reaction from their readership.
As our telescopic look into the future came into focus with Beverlee, it quickly became clear that TPL needed an Ombudsman too. So we looked…we searched high, far and wide for that perfect perspective…for someone outside the core of writers here who could fairly evaluate our issues-based, heavily researched coverage. Eventually, in an act of humility and a nod towards the en vogue streamlined newsroom approach of our fellow luminaries, we gave up and said “fck it, we’ll just do it ourselves.”
TPL’s Ombudsman is our attempt to self-monitor…to give voice to the masses…to air and settle grievances. Disagree with our general stance on an issue and don’t want to air that in the comments? Think TP:60 needs a new segment? Hate how Petrella keeps coming up with insightful brilliant posts? DM me on The Twitter (@512disch) and I’ll do my best to objectively (not really) settle the disagreement in this space.
Just as important, ombudsman will serve as a forum for picking apart debates that play out in the comments and highlighting conversations that took a deeper dive on a topic widely discussed across the blogsphere. We saw some great back and forth this week in the Dr. Feelgood comments between Petrella and Chris, who jostled with the reality of pain killers in hockey, a topic initially tabled in Justin Bourne’s article on Puck Daddy. Both Petrella and Chris played college hockey, and the two wrestled with conflicting views about how prevalent pain killer abuse was in the game’s ranks.
First and foremost, ombudsman absolutely loves the dialogue that came out of this. Both parties cited personal examples of abuse and non-abuse. It’s hard to beat the firsthand accounts of what things really look like on the inside of a locker room or bus. As a non-player who never saw that up close, the ombudsman can’t get enough of those accounts.
The principle debate centered on if we have a real problem with abuse or not, and cliche as it may be, ombudsman tends to agree with Petrella in this case. Drugs have an interesting habit of revealing themselves to people who are inclined to say yes. Similarly, even in the context of a close band of hockey brethren, our guess is that drugs are less visible to someone who’s a known refuser. It’s one of those issues that we’d speculate is much bigger than any of us realize, and if it’s surfaced anywhere, it’s likely prevalent in more places than we’re aware.
This…if anything…makes it that much more interesting why Petrella was constantly confronted with drug abuse in the first place. In most non-hockey scenarios, those who don’t partake tend to separate from those who do. What we saw this week was that being on-mission with a group of teammates all pressing towards a common goal changes the formula. It’s a group brought together not out of social convenience, but out of skill and passion for the game.
It’s possible that Petrella was surrounded by an abnormally high volume of drugs, but our guess is that his experience was par for the course. We’re not here to contradict personal experiences, and in fact, input like Chris’ adds significantly to the discussion. We’ll take all we can get. The debate, however, was on what’s normal and what’s not, and if we had to put a stack of chips on one guy’s experience better reflecting the common one, we’re staying in-house here with Petrella.
Chris, feel free to tell the ombudsman to go fuck himself.