Reporters surround Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association. Aside from continuing negotiations between the association and the NHL, sports reporters will have limited hockey content to cover in the next month. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Reporters surround Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players’ Association. Aside from continuing negotiations between the association and the NHL, sports reporters will have limited hockey content to cover in the next month. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The NHL lockout will keep players off the ice for another month—and will keep sports reporters from the sidelines covering games. Without hockey, those writers must turn elsewhere to fill their pages.

“The NHL season was supposed to start with the Vancouver Canucks in Calgary,” Scott Brown, sports editor for the Vancouver Sun, told Bill Littlefield on this week’s Only A Game. “Normally under those circumstances, we’d have a full court press with four or five reporters doing preview copy on the game, but because there wasn’t a game to cover, we sent them out to far-flung places.”

And they didn’t just cover hockey.

“We sent our lead hockey columnist to report on competitive pinball, so that would be the strangest thing we’ve reported.”

Of course, the Vancouver Sun is also covering the league’s collective bargaining disagreement, but there is only so much to say.

“I got sick of our guys writing about the incremental progress of the NHL lockout and the labor negotiations,” Brown said.  “So, it’s just a matter of sending these guys off to some strange place like women’s rec hockey—the lowest level of women’s rec hockey—and finding a story. We sent out Brad Ziemer, who’s been writing here for 30 years, covering the Canucks and the Grizzlies when they were here. He ended up finding a great story about this team called “The Curvaceous Canucks,” who are this women’s team that started up a few years ago—they wear pink Canucks jerseys.”

Brown said some of the players were Canucks staffers from the front office and one player was the wife of a Canucks defenseman.

“It was great because these women were playing for the love of the game, which is something the NHLers did not too long ago when they were junior players and minor hockey players—and the NHL owners before they got involved in the business must have loved the game too.”

The Vancouver Sun also sent a writer to cover the L.A. Lakers and Steve Nash, who used to live in British Columbia.

“He filed three or four stories about the Lakers and Nash and the trials and tribulations of that team, but there’s only so many times we can staff a guy to an L.A. Lakers story.”

Until earlier this week, the Vancouver Whitecaps were also getting more ink than that team usually enjoys.  The Major League Soccer team was the first from Canada to make the playoffs, before losing to L.A. on Thursday.  Luckily, the Whitecaps weren’t the only Vancouver team to make the post-season this fall.

“We do have the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions who are the defending Grey Cup champions, and playoffs are starting,” Brown said.  “But come December we’re going to have to really put on our thinking caps and come up with some creative stuff. There’s only so many competitive pinball tournaments going on.”