Anyone who is interested in hockey trade rumours knows who Eklund is. Some know him as a nice middle-aged man that goes by the name Dwayne Klessel. Others know him as the owner of the website HockeyBuzz.com. But most know him as a hockey insider fraud.
Some of Eklund’s trade rumours are crazier than stuff you read on a bathroom stall in a sketchy bar. He is, after all, the man who wrote about the possibility of the New Jersey Devils trading Martin Brodeur to the Washington Capitals for Alexander Semin in the 2010 offseason. He also reported the Nashville Predators were gaining ground on a deal with the Washington Capitals for Alexander Ovechkin in 2008. There are handfuls and handfuls of other inaccurate trade rumours. It’s estimated that since Eklund started blogging rumours in 2005, more than 96 percent of his trade rumours have turned out to dead wrong.
Timing isn’t exactly Eklund’s forte either. In 2011, he reported the Toronto Maple Leafs were close to signing Daniel Carcillo. Just a couple minutes later, it was reported by TSN that he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. This is just one of many examples.
Eklund claims he simply reports everything he hears from “sources.” It’s tough to say what he considers a ‘source,’ though. For all we know, a Zamboni driver could be one of Eklund’s top sources. He may even consider some season-ticket holders as “insiders” because they go to a lot of games.
Despite his lack of credibility, Eklund has received attention from mainstream media outlets. Back in 2007, two years into Eklund’s trade rumour career, he was invited on SportsNet’s trade trade deadline show. It was, however, as much of a disaster as his blog. He reported the Edmonton Oilers were closing in on an extension for Ryan Smyth just a couple minutes before they dealt him to the New York Islanders. He also claimed the Maple Leafs traded Matt Stajan, but for some reason, he was still wearing blue and white after the trade deadline. The TV station’s reputation took a hit and Eklund obviously wasn’t invited back on.
Many have claimed in social media sites that anyone off the street could beat Eklund in the trade rumour game. It seems just anyone might be a stretch, but someone with hockey knowledge and common sense could very well come up with more accurate rumours. Jonathan Willis put this theory to the test in 2009 and proved it to be right. He gave an estimated guess on 29 players who could be traded and came away with a 32.8 percent trade rumour rating. Eklund, meanwhile, hit a 23.2 percent accuracy rating in a list he made of that many players.
Besides reporting shameless false trade rumours, Eklund has committed other acts to damage his credibility. In September of 2008, he plagiarized LA Kings beat writer Rich Hammond. He even openly bashed Puck Daddy writer Greg Wyshynski, one of the best in the business, in 2009.
Nonetheless, despite his poor reputation, Eklund’s website, HockeyBuzz.com, is as popular as they come for hockey trade rumours. Eklund claims his website hit over 30 million unique viewers by July of 2012.
Eklund hasn’t built his website on his own, though. He has a team of bloggers who cover specific NHL teams. On one hand, he has credible writers such as Tim Panaccio, who covers the Philadelphia Flyers, and Mike Augello, who covers the Leafs. On the other hand, however, Oilers columnist Richard Cloutier and a fistful of other writers have been known to publish HF Board quality work from time to time.
So why do hockey fans keep on going back to Eklund’s rumours and his site if there are staggering stats that show he isn’t an insider at all? He isn’t the only hockey trade rumour guy in town. TSN’s Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie, SportsNet’s Nick Kypreos, and The Hockey News’ Lyle Richardson are credible options for rumours. These insiders report true rumours and have very accurate track records. But that’s the thing, they only report true rumours. They don’t let their viewer’s imagination run wild like Eklund does. Unlike what you see on HockeyBuzz, they report a trade is in the works or a trade is dead. They don’t report vague rumours like “I’m hearing an Eastern Conference team is closing in on a blockbuster deal for a top-six forward out of the Western Conference.” These type of rumours let fan’s imaginations run wild. That’s why Eklund fans love his rumours; it lets them fantasize about their favourite team landing a superstar.
Eklund isn’t an insider, reporter or a journalist. He is simply a gossip writer. But since there is a demand for vague 1-in-33 accuracy rating trade rumours, it seems Eklund is here to stay.