Barilkosphere Call to Arms: Our Time is Now

LeafsAre you a passionate Toronto Maple Leafs fan? Are you intelligent? Are you active in digital spaces, either blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or other? If you answered "yes" to all three questions, this entry is for you. All others can pick apart my 40 favourite Christmas songs over here.

Following the Leafs game on Monday night, I had a lengthy discussion with Jonathan Sinden from MLSE. Jonathan is a recent hire who's tasked with improving the interactive component of MLSE's teams, which include the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Marlies. For the first time in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs, they're making an effort to encourage online dialogue, good and bad, amongst folks like us.

As Jonathan and I spoke, a vision began to emerge. We can both see it. It's a consortium of passionate, intelligent Maple Leaf fans who are unofficially empowered by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Allow me to explain...

The digital space belongs to us. It's our blogs, our forums, our podcasts and our content. MLSE would have no editorial privilege and no veto power. MLSE would give us access normally reserved for the traditional mainstream media, and would empower us with tools, funds and some degree of promotion, but we would be the stars of this show. This is where our biased but realistic voices would be heard.

I just described the Barilkosphere. The Barilkosphere already exists in a sense. There are a core group of us who create good blog content and collaborate and communicate on Twitter each day. We love our Leafs, and we express this with others online. That's the Barilkosphere, a term I've been using for years but one that was completely unknown to Jonathan. In this new vision, MLSE treats the Barilkosphere the way it treats the reporter for the Toronto Sun or Fan 590. We're invited to games, given media access (like I was on Monday), given access to multimedia traditionally reserved for television and and empowered. But unlike MLSE interactive properties like and official Maple Leafs Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, there is no spin. It's raw, it's organic and it's from the hearts and minds of an independent body: The Barilkosphere.

I know Jonathan shares this vision, and having someone on the inside of MLSE with the mandate Jonathan has is a huge step in the right direction. Inviting bloggers to sit in press row is also a huge step for MLSE, so I'm optimistic. With the right pitch, buy-in from MLSE management is entirely possible.

The fact is, young people today are unlikely to read newspapers or listen to the radio. The next generation of fans is immersed in the pervasive web, with omnipresent internet access. This digital space is MLSE's final frontier and they can't permeate it by controlling the content found on their official channels. We're too smart to buy what they're selling over there.

Members of the Barilkosphere, this is a call to arms. I'll keep you abreast of developments as I continue to work with Jonathan on what I hope will be a long term, mutually beneficial collaboration. Our time is now.

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Comments (22 - click here to join in!)


Having coined the term it'd be nice to be included in this dialogue somewhat...

December 16, 2009 @ 3:44 PM


Not a Leaf fan, but not a hater either. Anything to give you bud fans a boost I'm glad to help out.

December 16, 2009 @ 4:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I couldn't remember who coined the phrase. I love it.

I promise when it comes time to contact the Barilkosphere, you're on the list. It wouldn't be the Barilkosphere without you.

December 16, 2009 @ 5:09 PM

Pension Plan Puppets

Thank God we didn't go with Leafdom like I wanted to.

December 16, 2009 @ 5:31 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

At MLSE, they call us Leaf Nation. That's their name, so I consider it our slave name.

Barilkosphere is our name. And much better than Leafdom. ;-)

December 16, 2009 @ 6:06 PM


The minute the Barilkosphere criticizes Brian Burke or Ron Wilson, which is inevitible, the cord will be cut!

MLSE sells condos.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:11 PM


I think the steps the Leafs are taking are important ones; I was invited to the press box, too. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't skeptical. I'd be lying if I said that I can see the day when bloggers are treated on the same level as "mainstream media."

But, hey, that's not going to stop you or I from blogging, so I applaud your efforts.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:16 PM


can we get a condo in return?
seriously, as long as we are kept at arms length (ie: not under their control), this can be nothing but a good thing.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:18 PM


Wow, this is really amazing, I'm very glad to hear that the Leafs are finally reaching out to bloggers the way teams like the Caps and Islanders have done in the past couple of years. I hope it doesn't end up the way it did in Edmonton, though. Some clear agreement needs to be worked out as to conduct within the ACC etc. and this could be a great step forward for MLSE.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:23 PM

Space Weed

Dude, this is great. Hopefully they invite more Leafs bloggers like PPP, Chemmy, DGB, Eyebleaf and everyone else in the Barilkosphere. GO LEAFS GO!

December 16, 2009 @ 6:27 PM

loser domi

it would be incredible if I had access, but to be honest, to them I'm basically a fanfic author (even though I hope it's higher quality fanfic, but still...)

In short, I'm not getting my hopes up that I can be considered like "mainstream media", mainly because I personally am selling something totally different than MLSE is.

Then again, the Barilkosphere is not I, nor I the totality of the Barilkosphere. Godspeed you, Barilkosphere!

PS--Leaf nation is totally our slave name.

December 16, 2009 @ 6:49 PM


Make it happen!!! We need this in Leaf Nation!!!! Barilko would want it this way.

December 16, 2009 @ 7:54 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

A few random thoughts...

I'm told Brian Burke is a big reason the Leafs are now reaching out to bloggers. This initiative is important to him personally.

DGB has a geographical challenge or he's get in the press box. Hell, I'd have given up my pass to get him in there.

As for PPP... I suspect the words PPP stand for are presenting a barrier for well meaning people. If I owned PPP, I'd consider a re-brand. And I love PPP.

December 16, 2009 @ 8:14 PM


I'm rather curious what sort of vision MLSE will undergo as to the transition from traditional forms of media to newer, online (and let's face it, much more instantaneous) forms media streams. I'm still of the belief newspapers have an important part to play, even if their reach has to be more focused. I do say, I'm very eager to see how more established bloggers like yourself will be able to merge into this changing field and taken on a more equal footing. I'm all for it!

December 16, 2009 @ 8:28 PM

Mike from Lowville

I'm out!

December 16, 2009 @ 8:57 PM

Pension Plan Puppets

The minute the Barilkosphere criticizes Brian Burke or Ron Wilson, which is inevitible, the cord will be cut!

Ummm you might not be familiar with the Barilkosphere then...

I laughed at "Leafs Nation is our slave name". Should we become Barilkosphere X?

Also, the aversion to the site name is likely borne out of ignorance (which is why most opposition fans love it) but there will be no re-brand.

December 17, 2009 @ 9:24 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I really do feel "Leafs Nation" belongs to MLSE whereas "Barilkosphere" belongs to us - the fans.

Coincidentally, I just wrote about the similar "Cheer Nation" which belongs to Pepsi. They're trying to get Canada hockey fans to adopt it, but that too is a slave name.

These big companies need to learn that you can't force spirit. You can't manufacture passion.

December 17, 2009 @ 9:54 AM

Down Goes Brown

Two points...

One, I note that you mention that I could get in the press box, but don't say anything about me getting out.

Second, I'll echo eyebleaf here and say I'm skeptical. Not of Jonathan Sinden, who I've never met but sounds like a guy with some good ideas. But Jonathan wouldn't be the first guy with good intentions at a big corporation to get early buy-in on a social media plan and then have it shot down as soon somebody sees something that attacks the product or hurts their feelings or "goes against the brand".

Simply put, MLSE (and that includes Burke himself) don't really give me that "ready to really enter the conversation" vibe.

Still, maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe I'm right but Jonathan can work some magic and get them to see the light. Either way, this sounds like a start in the right direction and that's more than a lot of corporations are doing.

December 17, 2009 @ 5:52 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Without a doubt, Jonathan's got his work cut out for him, but at least he's there and has MLSE taking the necessary baby steps.

I'll update these comments as things progress. I'm hoping to chat with Jonathan again soon.

December 17, 2009 @ 6:36 PM


A few good points made. I can't remember the last time I picked up a newspaper. Why would I when I can find anything I'm looking for online? News, weather, even traffic reports, are at my finger tips, and I don't have to wait for commercials. With the speed of internet, who has the patience to wait for information the old fashioned way?

I find everyday people a lot more interesting, even when the opinions are emotional rather than rational. Some of these television personalities are tired anyhow. Bring on the new generation of information and entertainment!

December 18, 2009 @ 8:34 PM

Toronto Mike

The wheels are in motion.

A meeting of the minds is being planned, and MLSE will be in attendance.

Stay tuned...

May 1, 2010 @ 3:38 PM

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