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ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – April 6, 2018

This Sunday on E:60 (ESPN, 9 a.m. ET) reporter John Barr examines what led to the tragic death of Jamie Daniels, the 23-year-old son of Ken Daniels, the longtime voice of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.

Ken Daniels and his ex-wife Lisa Daniels, told Barr and producer Mike Farrell they wanted to accomplish two things by sharing Jamie’s story with E:60.

“First and foremost, they wanted to let parents know this ‘Florida Shuffle’ insurance scam is going on – that unless you do your due diligence and really learn about the drug treatment facilities where you’re sending your son or daughter, you could be putting them at risk,” said Barr, who along with Farrell, were stunned to learn how easily many recovering addicts are preyed upon for their insurance money.

“We had to understand – and convey – this dark side to the rehab industry that has received a lot of attention locally in Florida but not as much nationally,” Barr said.

Beyond that aspect of Jamie’s story, his parents also wanted to try and help remove the stigma that surrounds addiction.

“Their son was a high-functioning individual,” said Barr, who worked on the story for five months. “Jamie was college educated and working as a clerk in a law firm. He had a large and loving network of friends and family around him. But the pull of this addiction was so intense that, even with all of that, he couldn’t beat it.”

Beyond that network, Jamie also had a roommate, Kade Potter, who shared with Barr what he believed happened to Jamie and how he thinks he was a victim of the “Florida Shuffle.”

E:60 reporter John Barr interviews Ken Daniels in the Detroit Red Wings broadcaster’s home. (Mike Farrell/ESPN)

“With respect to Kade, Jamie’s roommate at the sober home where he overdosed, both of Jamie’s parents firmly believe that Kade ‘patient-brokered’ Jamie to get him into the corrupt sober home – meaning he provided some sort of incentive to lure Jamie to the home,” Barr said. “It’s never comfortable to ask questions of interview subjects knowing that the question and, at times, the answer won’t put them in a good light.”

For Barr, the story was a difficult one to work on, and it wasn’t just because he had to ask hard, direct questions.

“We had to navigate a family’s grief and stay true to our commitment to them, to fairly and accurately capture Jamie Daniels and his battle with addiction,” he said. “Equally important was the explanation of how the ‘Florida Shuffle’ insurance scam works and how Jamie got caught up in it. It was a balancing act throughout, and Mike and I tried to keep one another on track.”

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