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The Thousand Yard Stare

I have to admit, I am kind of bummed. I have always been proud to be a hockey fan.  We (at least us in the States) are a bit of an anomaly.  A community that sticks to their team with passion only found in the NFL after 5 hours of pregame beer and brats.  Or the NBA after dropping a few hundred bucks on some Jordan’s (or Kobe’s?).  And even during the best moments in the MLB (World Series), baseball has that pastoral picnic quality then we can jump in and out of during the course of 162 games. 

If anyone doubts the pure passion hockey fans bring to the table, browse some of the archives posts of A2Y, Malik’s relentless reports or basically anything in the comments section of any post found here (seriously just pick any random post). 

I am secretly satisfied whenever the latest controversy pops up in the other 3 major U.S. professional sports.  Who is the latest to cheat, break the law, talk bad about their team.  What insanely strong man has decided to "teach" his wife a lesson?  Who shot who?  Who got shot?  Money, drugs, fame.  I can’t pretend to understand the world of professional sports other than to know I am more likely to end up on the front page of the paper for doing something stupid then Pavel Datsyuk. 

I know hockey isn't perfect.  We have our fair share of controversy.  I understand that the lack of most Americans caring about hockey probably helps damper the drama.  But still.  Hockey players are walking cliché machines.  They say the right things, they stay out of the spotlight. 

They have foundations and charities and are saving the world one goal at a time.  Ok, maybe I wearing blinders. 

The most recent controversy with the Maple Leafs has really put a damper on the hockey world for me.  I am not a Maple Leafs fan.  I could care less what goes on with their team as long as my team is beating them.  The more I read about the tensions with the media and the players and the total lack of respect that seems to be happening, both ways, has made me look at the way I view my favorite team and players, in media interactions, different. 

The cliché thing never really bothered me before.  It’s beginning to.  In one article I read the author talks about how players are always just looking over the reporters heads, not treating them like people, much less respect, but more as a burden.  That begs the question, do players have a responsibility to the media?  I think that answer is yes. 

Not because the media deserves it, there are many times bounds are overstepped and lines are crossed.  Media is to provide a conduit to the fans, pure and simple. 

I find myself watching interviews closer now and I see that thousand yard stare in the player’s eye.  The clichés pour out, the player is looking over the person they are talking to.  They are burdened by having to talk about the game and look for the quickest way out of the conversation.  String together a players interviews over the course of the season and I bet you hear the same thing just about every time.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about how many words a reporter has to write or how many seconds they need to fill on TV.  That interview is for ME.  I get pissed at the questions, I get pissed at the answers. 

Pregame-
Interviewer:  "What do you need to do to be successful tonight?"
Player: "Skate hard, get bodies in front of the goalie, and get some shots early"

Intermission-
Interviewer:  “What do you think of your team’s performance that period?"
Player:  "Well we came out and skated hard (slow), had (didn’t have) bodies in front of the goalie and got some good (poor) bounces early".

Postgame-
Interviewer:  "Big win (tough loss) for your team tonight, what did you think?"
Player:  Yea that was a big (tough) win (loss) for us tonight.  I thought we got a good (bad) start, Drove (didn’t drive) to the net and made the goalie make some big saves (get to good a look at the puck)

Every.  Single.  Game. 

It pisses me off.   I love hockey.  I love watching and going to games.  And I pay for that.  I am not rich and I am not saying I am entitled to anything.  What I am pointing out is the obvious.  Jerseys cost money.  Tickets cost money.  Driving, parking, eating, drinking, merchandise.  There are a lot of people vying for my money, what little I have. 

If I buy a newspaper, subscribe to a newspaper site, buy an NHL app or game center live, I am supporting the media too.  I purchase these things because I can’t afford to buy season tickets.  I can’t drive an hour each way to go to 41 games a year even if I could buy the tickets.  I don’t get to attend the high end charity events or the season ticket holder one on ones.  The media is my access into the world I love. 

That is maybe what a lot of players are missing when all they see are cameras and microphones and lights in their eyes.  Or when the media is looking at a player would rather be anywhere else at the moment so why bother.   I am not asking for much (other than winning every single night, never giving up a goal and bringing the Stanley Cup home every single year) except a little respect.  The older I get, the wiser I get, the more jaded I get the more turned off I get to the self-centered personality and the anything for the story attitude. 

When thinking about writing this I had planned on linking the articles that have bugged me or maybe some video of the clichés I am writing about but the more I googled anything about these things the more apathetic I felt.  Why bother getting passionate about something when the people who can change things do not care.  The media has failed.  The players have failed.  And it bums me out

Filed in: | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: nhl, rant, toronto+maples+leafs

Comments

Red Winger's avatar

Consider this guy in the same boat as you.

I can’t watch hockey interviews anymore. Six hundred-plus players, and 75-some coaches, all read from the same scripts, and that script has about twenty-five words in it. And I think a lot of this can be blamed on the current state of the media.The Internet (and Twitter, etc) changed everything. Now everyone is a reporter, or at least can act like one. Now everyone has access to everyone else, and the results have been burnt-out players and coaches who simply read off a script and look like they’d rather be anywhere than where they are at that moment.

Now we interview coaches during breaks in play. Players are asked the most inane questions in-between periods (“You’re down two after this period, what do you need to do to get back in this game?” “Well, I think if we can drive to their net we can create traffic and get some goals”). Hooray! That’s the same mindset a local mite players has, too: try to score on the opposing net.

Even commentators are falling for it. I mean, did the phrase “poke-check” really fall out of style due to ineffectiveness in relating what it was? We have to call it an “active stick” now?

“Getting to the dirty areas of the ice”. Ahhh yes, also known as getting to the front of the net. Where we were told to go as Mites.

“Push the puck up the ice through the seams”. Hmmm, sure sounds like passing the puck to the open guy to me.

Take a look back at old video clips of interviews from thirty or more years ago. Watch old games at NHL.com and just listen to how the announcers sounded real and spontaneous, not like robotic cliche’ machines.

Mute. It’s all we have now.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 03/10/15 at 09:34 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Mute. It’s all we have now.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 03/10/15 at 09:34 PM ET

Just think if we didn’t have it.  I don’t bother with interviews anymore because of what you and the author are speaking to.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 03/10/15 at 09:53 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

You gotta hit the ball. You gotta throw the ball.  You gotta catch the ball.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 03/10/15 at 10:21 PM ET

Zaze's avatar

I think it was a TSN bit during an intermission a few years ago, and for the life of me I can’t find it online, but they did a goofy bit where the new NHL rookies had to go through some media training camp where they were coached on all the cliche answers to the rediculous intermission and post game interviews, “get pucks on net, trust the system, “play a full 60”, “it is what it is”, etc.  Anyone ever see that?

Posted by Zaze on 03/10/15 at 11:48 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

These guys are pros.  They play hockey every day, all of their lives.  It is the same old game.  The reporters ask the same old questions. 
They do not disrespect the fans.
We cannot have it both ways.
If you want some interesting stuff, ask about the hot chick knocking on the rookie’s hotel door last night.  What time did she leave this morning? Ask about how many “pops” the veteran had at the bar last night.  Ask about who is sleeping with who’s wife.  How late were they out?  How much money did they blow at the blackjack table.
Or ask about their cars, or music, or something they are interested in.  They are board to tears with hockey.
But do not expect the answers are going to be pretty.
One guy who gives some thought to his answers is Babcock, especially in the middle of a game.  But you will not get more than about 20 seconds of good stuff from him.

Posted by w2j2 on 03/11/15 at 02:44 AM ET

Alan's avatar

Mute. It’s all we have now.

If it weren’t for this, there would be no point in turning on NBC(SN).

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 03/11/15 at 03:13 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Well said.
I even called XM Home Ice while on my commute home begging them to never, ever interview another coach, player or manager again. It’s a complete waste of time and is only used as time-filler.
It’s nothing but the same tired cliche’s over and over and over again.

But when someone stands above the rest, they’re labeled an ‘individual’ (the humanity!!!!!) and selfish by media and fans and blast them to the point where they never want to say anything original ever again.

I’ve always found it ironic that for years we labeled Russian players as robots.
But now, it seems the Russians have way more personality than anyone else.
I’m not even sure Jonathan Toews has a personality. I’m convinced he, and many other NHLers, were built in a laboratory somewhere in Stepford, incapable of individual thoughts or emotions.

Hockey players forget that they’re actually supposed to be entertainers. But too many people in the hockey community (fans, media, players, etc), treat hockey like it’s more than sport.
We as fans are simply on the outside looking in. We’re lucky that the league allows us to pay them money to watch them play.
And that’s why hockey will always be a #6 sport in the U.S. They don’t care at all if the game is entertaining.
Goals continue to plummet, there isn’t one player on pace for 90 points and nobody in the NHL cares.
“This isn’t a sport! We’re not entertainment! We’re HOCKEY! Now shut your mouth, give us your money and eat up out tired cliche’s like the hungry clapping seals that you are!!!”

Posted by Hank1974 on 03/11/15 at 07:26 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

The question isn’t why do they even interview athletes and coaches. The question is who the feck listens to interviews with athletes and coaches. The demographic has to be 8-17 yr old boys, right? That’s the only thing that would make sense.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 03/11/15 at 08:11 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

It doesn’t taint the game overall for me, but I agree with the sentiment that I just don’t care about interviews any more. The only types of interviews that usually have value are the occasional GM/coach interview when it’s with the right outlet.

There are plenty of guys with personality, and they occasionally get it out there. I don’t so much blame the players as I blame the teams, and actually, the media. Players cannot be colorful and entertaining because they can’t trust that with Twitter that something they say that deviates from script won’t become an immediate distraction. As a player you pretty much have to keep a tight lid on things.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 03/11/15 at 09:25 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Fungus. They’re missing fungus on their shower shoes. That’s why no one is colorful.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 03/11/15 at 09:35 AM ET

hockeychic's avatar

Ah - Mr. Fluffy nailed it with the Bull Durham quote.  I was thinking of that.

Around our house, the player interviews have become such a joke.  We just start saying, “We have to skate hard and put the puck on net.”  Blah blah blah.  Even worse is the awful skycam interviews they do on NHL Tonight.  I actually stopped watching that show because of those horrible interviews.

Eric Cole’s interview after his first game as a Wing was the most refreshing thing I have seen in awhile.  I think now everyone is so bland because interesting quotes cause controversy, gosh forbid anyone be interesting!

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 03/11/15 at 11:04 AM ET

Avatar

This is why I love a Babcock interview. Even though he gets asked the same mundane questions, he often finds a why to give an answer that is more intriguing than the typical clichéd responses. Sure, he’ll spout off a cliché from time to time but he, more than any other coach in hockey, and perhaps sports actually takes time to craft an answer.

It a bit hard to put to much of this on the players. They are just try to answer the question and move on. Their career isn’t public relations, it’s playing hockey. Some of them do have personalities that shine through in interviews but those are the minority.

It would be nice if the interviewers didn’t ask the obvious questions or at least phrased them in such a way as the interviewee felt he had the freedom to go outside the canned responses.

Long ago I quit watching pre and post game stuff because it was so much nonsense, especially the 8 to 10 talking heads they put out there for NFL broadcasts.

Posted by evileye on 03/11/15 at 11:57 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Z would never do this, but…I wonder if maybe Smith would come in after a terrible loss (like last week to the Flames) and be “What is there to say? That was an absolute shitshow out there.” then walk away.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 03/11/15 at 02:19 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

And I’m pretty sure Jeff above quoted Bull Durham first.  smile

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 03/11/15 at 02:20 PM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

I think I agree with all the above. Leaves me nothing much to add. Good post.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 03/11/15 at 03:13 PM ET

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