The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/26/13 at 04:15 PM ET
As Ruslan Salei of all people told me, hockey players understand that dealing with the media is part of their job, and as professional athletes, the have to accept a certain level of scrutiny in terms of both what they do on the ice and what they say when cameras and digital sound recorders are pointed at them...
But the presence o HBO's 24/7 cameras at Thursday's practice had me wondering how the Wings and their occasionally prickly coach will adapt to spending all of December followed around by an "embedded" crew, and especially given how much access Fox Sports Detroit's crew was given during the prospect tournament, with bench, on-ice and locker room access, I've been wondering how the Wings' players will adjust to a more invasive environment in which they'll be followed home by filmmakers hoping to "reveal unseen" aspects of their personalities.
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted that coach Babcock, who is loath to share his coaching secrets, isn't exactly delighted by the concept of accommodating the crews, but he'll do his best to accept the price of Winter Classic admission...
“I just know my kids, I remember a few years back, thought it was awesome,” Babcock said. “To be honest with you I can go without it totally, but doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’m just hoping someone else is first star.”
Babcock recalled players tending to shy away during the taping of Nicklas Lidstrom 360.
“No one would go near him,” Babcock said. “I assume since these guys are around here for so long you become immune to it a little bit. Obviously, just like in your own life do you want everything on TV or YouTube, or is there anything you do that you don’t want it to be (broadcast). It’s the same for these guys. That’s part of promoting the sport so they feel it’s a good thing for the sport.”
And the Red Wings' players told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that they believe Pavel Datsyuk will be their team's breakout star:
“I think Pav will come across pretty good,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s a funny guy and I think that will really show. If he feels that he can be himself, absolutely, it will be great to see him. It will be hilarious; he could have a show all about himself.”
“Pasha will be Pasha,” Howard said. “People don’t realize it, but he’s a very smart individual, and very quick (witted) too. He loves to joke around, so hopefully, the people who really don’t follow hockey, or don’t really know Pavel, will get to see that side of him.”
He is INCREDIBLY intelligent.
By and large, Howard and Kronwall told Roose that they'll learn to deal with the cameras:
“I’m sure there will be several guys that will be do a double-take in the mirror before they walk out the door in the morning,” Howard predicted. “Other than that, I think there will be a lot of guys doing their hair in the back room, making sure everything looks right before they do an interview.”
The HBO invasion can be overwhelming for some players, though Kronwall has been convinced by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist that the distractions are a minimum.
“Just talking with some guys who have been on the 24/7 before they say in the beginning you definitely notice that they’re there and you’re a little subconscious about it,” Kronwall said. “After a few weeks they’re pretty much part of the fabric and you really don’t notice them.”
Brian Lashoff offered an intriguing take...
“The thing you get the most from it is just getting to see the guys and everybody’s different superstitions and things they do during the games and the chatter on the ice,” he said. “We know about it, but it’s fun to see other teams and coaches get involved. It’s pretty cool, because you get to see all of the ins and outs. I really don’t have very many (superstitions), but it’s cool for everyone to see the ins and outs of the main guys like Pavel or some of the superstars of the league that people want to see.”
And in addition to sharing his excitement about playing in the Winter Classic with Roose, Stephen Weiss suggested that hockey players are such routine-driven creatures and have so many professional obligations that they won't really have the time to be anybody but themselves:
“I didn’t find it to be a distraction at all. For me I kind of have blinders on anyways when I get to the rink, just come in, do your thing,” Weiss said. “You definitely noticed them, but you don’t notice them. Those guys are professionals and I don’t think it will be too big of a hassle.”
Update: For the record, Pavel Datsyuk Tweeted the following:
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About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.