A sportswriter for the Kamloops Daily News, who was banned by the Kamloops Blazers and the Western Hockey League over coverage, is being reinstated to his position after a public outcry.
Gregg Drinnan will continue writing news coverage and columns, as he did before the Blazers sent a letter in late December outlining concerns with coverage and instituting a ban on speaking with the veteran WHL reporter.
League commissioner Ron Robison and Blazers owner Tom Gaglardi met for two hours with newspaper publisher Tim Shoults and editor Mel Rothenburger.
“We’re lifting the ban immediately,” Robison said. “Gregg will be reinstated with full access to all Blazer personnel and that will take effect immediately.”
Robison said the Blazers were in violation of the WHL media policy by restricting the sportswriter’s access to team personnel.
However, he was sympathetic to the Blazers’ perception that coverage has not been as balanced as what is received by other franchises in other WHL cities.
“One example being the lack of coverage surrounding a major news conference this year that both the club and league felt was very important, major announcements related to player signings, to announcements of scheduling special events in Kamloops,” Robison said.
The restriction of Drinnan’s rights to cover the hockey club became a hot button issue among sportswriters across the country who came to his defence through newspaper columns, blogs and twitter responses.
“The issue was not surrounding the factual nature of the reporting. It was more to ensure the Blazers received what we consider to be similar coverage to what we receive in other WHL markets in terms of coverage of media conferences, dealing with certain subjects of a more positive nature as opposed to reporting on other issues.”
Majority owner Gaglardi, who purchased the team in 2007 along with Shane Doan, Mark Recchi, Jarome Iginla and Darryl Sydor, said only that the team is onside with the league.
“This has been a league matter from the beginning and we were in lockstep with the league and we're satisfied with where we are today. We're happy to proceed in good faith with the league, as we've been, and the Kamloops Daily News,” Gaglardi said.
Rothenburger said there were no conditions placed by the league or team on reinstating access to players and team personnel.
“We welcome criticism of the way we cover the community, constructive criticism, and we'll look at details of examples raised,” Rothenburger said.