After insulting the Lightning organization and fan base by calling Justin Keller  "trash" and being made to look the fool by Chad Schnarr for claiming there hasn't been a good 8th round pick in a decade (Ryan Craig anyone?) I decided George Bachul must've had a rough day yesterday. So, rather than simply pick him apart I decided to do the right thing and e-mail him to discuss some of his misguided positions:
You and I need to have a little chat.
You see I didn't want to escalate the unpleasantness between our two websites by picking him apart without first giving Bachul the opportunity to explain himself. It only seemed gentlemanly to me. His response?
We have nothing to talk about. You have to show professional courtesy to
get professional courtesy.
Uh, George, that WAS your professional courtesy. But because you chose to act more like a petulant little child than someone legitimately interested in an honest discussion/debate about HockeysFuture's painfully terrible coverage and rating of Lightning prospects, you've left me no choice but to deconstruct your strain of misguided posts attempting to justify your organization's extremely poor product.
More on the flip:
We're going to take this post by post, point by point. Lets start with the outrageous statement made by Bachul which really inflamed the whole situation.
Did I just read that correctly ladies and gentlemen? Did this individual just refer to Blair Jones  and Justin Keller as "trash"? This individual actually has the audacity to trumpet himself and HF as "professional" after implying the runner up for the WHL Player of the Year award and a Second Team WHL Eastern Conference All-Star are pieces of "trash"? And did he expand on what Jones and Keller's alleged issues were? No. He merely pronounced them garbage and moved on. Really, it's beyond the pale, and I contacted HF's owner to clarify whether it is their official editorial position that Justin Keller is "trash" or if they intend to take disciplinary action on George Bachul for such an outrageous comment. For anyone who feels compelled to do the same, you can contact HF's owner here. 
Justin Keller led the WHL in goals. The WHL, as Chad will always tell you, is considered the junior league that most resembles the NHL in terms of its physical demands and Justin Keller led it in goals on a Kelowna team that plays a close to the vest defensive style. Maybe there are circumstances where that doesn't merit being a top-50 prospect. I'm willing to grant that. But in Keller's case they didn't even put him in the LIGHTNING'S top-20 prospects. This isn't even about the finer points of ranking really. This is about common sense. It's also about respect, and to dismiss two players who had the seasons they had as "trash" does nothing but show the contempt HF holds for the Lightning organization. Seriously, how can anyone claim to be "objective" or "professional" when they compare a player like Keller to garbage?
Moving on, Bachul claims Lightning fans are ignorant and only judge players based on statistics:
Here's a play right out of the Ken McKenna (HF's managing editor) playbook. The amusing part about this is that it is one which McKenna was was reprimanded by HF ownership for when he falsely accused Chad and Tim of rating players on stats alone back when we wrote at HF. If it were true, of course, then Lightning fans would've been clamboring for Gerald Coleman to be exalted as the best goaltending prospect in the world based on his numbers in London last year. Last I checked though no Lightning fan of any consequence ever made that argument, having seen the rough edges on Coleman's game in multiple training camps. I, personally, on Bolt Prospects was busy pointing out Coleman's stats were inflated behind London's team which was probably the best junior team ever. So Bachul's claim really doesn't hold water. In fact, of our two organizations, Bolt Prospects and HF, HF is clearly the organization guilty of blindly rating based on stats. How else do you explain Nick Tarnasky  at 19th in their ratings?
Bachul then attempts to justify HF's terrible rankings by saying HF duplicates other groups' poor rating criterion:
Here's some circular logic, and Bachul has to know he's being completely disingenuous. He, like many others associated with HF, also writes/has written for McKeens. "You can't blame me for using my right hand to beat my wife because my left hand does it too." is not a valid defense. And what's extra amusing to me is that one of HF's own writers, Kevin Forbes, points out the incestuous nature of the HF/McKeens relationship in his personal blog. The money quote?
I was reading the masthead for McKeenâ€™s: George Bachul, ex writer at Hockeyâ€™s Future, Evgeny Belashchenko, writer at Hockeyâ€™s Future, Mikko Vuori, writer for Jatkoaika, Max Giese, a 15 year old kid who posts on the HFBoards. I mean seriously, not to discredit my peers, but whatâ€™s the point in dishing out the cash? 
Honest to goodness, if the best justification you have for bad rankings is that you have the same standards as an organization that hires 15 year old message board posters, just quit. Seriously. Just quit Bachul.
George then proceeds to tell Lightning fans something we've all known for a long time:
So basically he just admits if you complain about the lack of quality of their product HF will ignore you. Your opinion means nothing to HF. Nice. So much for the customer always being right eh?
Then Bachul brags:
Even if we take him at his word, there are 600 prospects total between every team's top-20 (assuming we ignore that HF is so lazy they've left the Lightning at 19 for months). That means George has still seen less than half of the best prospects from every team. I'm not arguing that there needs to be a guru who knows all 600 prospects by heart, mind you. What I'm arguing for, and what made HF work before McKenna and Gunning screwed it up, was a loose, decentralized structure that allowed each team to have 2-3 writers who were experts on their 20-30 guys contributing to the collective. There is no expert on the Lightning's top 20-30 guys at HF now. There is no full time writer at all, and that's a complete abdication of their journalistic responsibility, one which should immediately disqualify them from the business of ranking this team's prospects. It probably should also disqualify them from being credentialed at league wide events like the Entry Draft as well, in my opinion.
Bachul then runs back behind a defense for HF that he repeats several times throughout the thread. It's a bizarre one in which he claims that anyone who criticizes HF for having poor coverage is responsible for their bad coverage. Oh, and apparently you destroy your own fan base as well:
but hard to provide solutions. Those things tear down the fanbase and make it hard for someone to willfully come in and improve the TB coverage. Why write for a fanbase when all they will do is crap on your work, insult you and make it a chore rather than enjoyable? 
Here's something Bachul and his masters probably don't know. Or, maybe they do and choose to play dumb. The last two competent articles done on the Lightning organization were done by Courtney Wagner and Kevin Wey. Know what I did when I read them? I e-mailed them and complimented them. See how this works? Write crap: get reamed. Write quality: get praised. Simple.
But there's something else I want to point out: Chad, Tim and I left HF one by one in 2004. We didn't launch Bolt Prospects full time until Fall of 2005. HF had a full year in between to hire a new writer. They did not. Why? My guess is because they didn't want to. The Thrashers fan who is online editor doesn't want the Lightning to have a full time writer. She wants to be able to bash the organization with impunity. We know this because we were told what that woman would say on the HF Staff board and how she would revel in her shafting of the Lightning fans/prospects whenever new rankings were released over the past couple of years. Anyone from that website who doesn't admit there's bias at the top of HF isn't telling the truth.
No one says that we can't accept criticism. If it improves the site, we will listen. But what those guys don't do is discuss improvment, they just spout stuff to try to make us look bad. Well, garbage in, garbage out. 
Is HF's new slogan: "It's YOUR fault we suck?"
I don't think so. HF is responsible for the quality of material they put out over there, not us. Their online editor has the capability to assign a full time writer from the current staff at HF to the Lightning to do the research and due dilligence necessary to do some decent journalism about the team's prospects. She, out of bias, chooses not to, and Bachul's feeble attempt to pin blame on our website which operates completely independent of their operation does nothing to change that fact.
And that was just YESTERDAY'S posts George? Shall we have a go at today's?