Just over five years ago, Adrian Dater’s career collapsed in a rather public fashion. After covering the Colorado Avalanche for nearly 20 years at the Denver Post, Dater was fired in December 2014 for sending harassing Twitter messages to a female hockey fan.
But that incident was the culmination of a pattern of questionable, disturbing behavior for the writer on social media. Two months earlier, Dater was suspended by the Postfor several vulgar rants, including ripping Brayden McNabb for “a pussy play” and lashing out at fellow hockey writer Jesse Spector via email.
After his firing, Dater admitted to substance abuse problems and mental health issues that contributed to his indefensible conduct. In the year since being dismissed by the Post, Dater has written for several outlets, including Bleacher Report, and currently runs his own site, Colorado Hockey Now, while also writing for Bookies.com and contributing as an Avalanche insider for Denver’s 104.3 The Fan.
Dater appeared this week on author Jeff Pearlman’s podcast, Two Writers Slinging Yang, to talk about his very public downfall, the issues he dealt (and continues to deal) with, the cost to his journalism career, his efforts to rebuild his professional life, and the difficulties of covering a professional sports team with his own resources.
Here’s an excerpt:
Dater also recounts some of his work as a substitute teacher, during which he dealt with one second-grade student who was experiencing some familiar issues with depression.
“He was a handful, he was the kid who talked a lot in class and that kind of thing,” Dater told Pearlman. “He had a thing when he went to the bathroom, he couldn’t go alone. I had to walk him there and he hated that. I could tell this kid was really bright, very intelligent-sounding, put together sentences much more developed than other kids his age.
“On the way to the bathroom — he didn’t like that I was walking him, he was mad about it — he said ‘I just wanna friggin’ kill myself.’ I was stunned, but I was like ‘I’m here to tell you that I see some smarts in you and I’m here to tell you that we all go through rough times as kids, and it’s all gonna get better someday. I promise you.'”
Additionally, Dater shares the differences between covering the Avalanche for a major metropolitan newspaper versus a start-up website, including the process of getting credentialed and the less-established hotels he now has to stay in when following the team on the road.
Listening to the conversation, it’s apparent that Dater has some difficulty recapping his past and admitting the many problems that led to his downfall. But it also seems therapeutic for him to address these matters publicly, helped by Pearlman’s encouragement. And the entire story is a cautionary tale detailing how the stress of beat reporting, pressure to break news, and aggressive reader feedback aren’t ideal elements for certain personalities to deal with — especially in a certain state of mind.
You can listen to Two Writers Slinging Yang on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, and Google Play.
About Ian Casselberry
Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.
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Yet getting almost as much attention as the squad's sad season ending was a post-game question asked of Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon, in which hockey writer Adrian Dater dropped an F-bomb.
Specifically, Dater said: "I’m just thinking out loud in your shoes right now: 'All right, we’ve done all we can do, we’ve done all the game planning, maybe just…fuck it, we’ll go in next year and not think and just win this thing when we don’t think that much.' Am I on the right path at all with this? Like maybe this guy’s thinking too much?"
MacKinnon's hilarious response? A long pause, a single word — "No" — and a second pause accompanied by an expression that suggested that he couldn't believe what just happened.
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See it for yourself here:
The question might have seemed surprising coming from another journalist, but not from Dater, who's had plenty of career ups and downs. He began writing about hockey for the Denver Post in the early 1990s, and when the Colorado Avalanche launched in 1995, he became one of the most authoritative voices covering the team. But his life got a lot more complicated in 2014, when Dater was sacked by the paper over missteps on Twitter. First, he was suspended for using the platform to call one player a "pussy" and advising someone else corresponding with him to "fuck off." Then, a couple of months later, he was given his walking papers after what we described at the time as "a strange come-on to a Detroit Red Wings Fan."
In announcing his departure from the Post, Dater revealed that he was dealing with substance abuse, and as he told us last July, when he spoke to us from the NHL's COVID-19 bubble in Canada, cleaning up and rebuilding his life and career wasn't easy. "I went from being a spoiled, entitled sportswriter riding in big planes and staying in nice hotels to shoveling snow in an elementary-school parking lot where I was working as a substitute gym teacher three months later," he recalled. "I was thinking, 'How did I get here?' It's been a journey back, and I think I'm the better for it. ... What happened may have been a good thing in the sense that it finally forced me to change some things, things that had been festering."
Dater came back by creating Colorado Hockey Now, the single best news source on the Avalanche, and he admitted that the inquiry "didn't translate well" in his post-mortem column, "Avalanche, like Sisyphus, Can’t Get Over the Hump."
He makes the same acknowledgment in a response to Westword. "Honestly, I was just trying to be 'real' with Nathan, trying to ask if they might just take a 'Screw it, we’re not going to overthink anything anymore' attitude next year," he says. "But I used another word that was a little too real and shouldn’t have done it. I mangled the whole thing. That is how writers and players often talk to each other in locker rooms. But you probably shouldn’t do it on Zoom."
This post has been updated to include a response from Adrian Dater.
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Marat was only a couple of years older than me, and his friends were even my peers. I left and walked along the embankment. My mother and I did not often go to the sea, then I remembered that I had forgotten my phone in the cafe and returned. What I saw made me.
Then he kissed me and sat me on his lap. Our bodies touched, and his penis was almost in my hole, but he was in no hurry to enter me and only. Teased.Breaking Down The Hilarious Nathan MacKinnon Post-Game Question
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