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Always a Story in Toronto...

Wednesday, 14.11.2007 / 4:16 PM / Mike Ulmer's Blog
By Mike Ulmer  - Mapleleafs.com commentator
So far this season, the Maple Leafs have had to deal with real-time emergencies in the form of injuries and the 15-game suspension of forward Mark Bell.

The club announced the shocking news that forward Jason Blake had a rare form of leukemia.

In Toronto, there is no shortage of the phony uproars as well, like the laughable torrent of tongue-clucking over internet pictures of rookie Jiri Tlusty.

A party picture of the Czech Republic native adorned the front page of a Toronto tabloid, Wednesday.

Wednesday, in the wake of a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs were pondering questions, big and little, about the accelerating role of media and Tlusty’s misstep into that milieu.

Some of the issues to consider in dealing with Tlusty’s story: what is private and what is not?  What of cultural sensibilities between North America and his native Czech Republic.

No need to stop there. What about the breakdown of traditional mating patterns, kick started by the way by the invention of the birth control pill in the 1960s. How about the sociological implications of a generation that meets, dates and breaks up online?

Now factor in the always loaded question of celebrity status and consider the long list of prominent personalities caught in photographically-charged scandals, from Britney Spears to Paris Hilton and even High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens.

And let’s not forget the impact of burgeoning technology that exposed actors Michael Richards and Mel Gibson as raving racists. If technology makes capturing someone’s darkest side possible, does it still make it ethical.

Or maybe, it’s all a little simpler than that.

Maybe it’s about a kid, 18 years old at the time, who did something stupid, as 18-year olds are wont to do, as 18 year-olds have always been wont to do.

You may not have done it. You may not be able to imagine doing it. Then again, you’ve forgotten most of what you did and you didn’t have a cell phone. Many an overpass has been spray painted with poorly expressed overblown teen love. The only difference between the bridge and the internet is eventually the paint comes off the overpass.

“We feel protective because he’s one of our own and we will do everything we can to protect him,” Leafs coach Paul Maurice said to a phalanx of journalist at practice yesterday.

 “There was a mistake made a year ago, he will now answer for this like none of us will or have to. I’m sure that each one of us has a story that you prefer doesn’t hit the paper.”

 I think he’s handled it very, very well.”

 Darcy Tucker sees the technological breakthrough as a great thing…to a point.

“There are a lot of things that go on the internet that aren’t true. It’s a blessing, you can go on there and order your groceries for heaven sake, but there’s the downside part of it as well.”

And so the hockey players did what hockey players do, Wednesday. They had his teammates back, a fact made easier by the fact that Tlusty apologized, hurt absolutely no one and broke no law except the one about common sense.

“It’s a young guy somebody took advantage of,” sighed Tucker in yet another day at the office. .

“It is what it is.”
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