The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/24/14 at 10:47 AM ET
I asked Paul to post the IIHF's rule change proposal press relase in KK hockey so more eyeballs would see it (I don't believe that the IIHF's desire to reduce or eliminate the "cheater" portion of a goaltender's catch glove has a chance in hell of passing; the "cheater" has gotten much smaller, and the now-puck-or-two-width piece of plastic is more readily used to prevent the hand from turning over while catching a puck), but I think that this little World Championship spotlight fits right here on TMR.
IIHF hockey events present players to the media in a remarkably different manner from North American hockey leagues. Instead of allowing press access to locker rooms or holding player press conferences, the players have to run a gauntlet called the "Mixed Zone" while walking from the ice to their locker rooms, first speaking with broadcasters, TV outlets, radio and then print journalists as they navigate a maze of passageways along the way to their sanctuaries, and IIHF.com's Paul Romanuk takes us on a tour of the Mixed Zone in Belarus:
I'll put things bluntly: I don't think that this is a fantastic idea from a player-relations perspective, because those who don't stop for everybody, especially after a difficult loss, are seen as "blowing off" the press, and I can certainly tell you from my interactions with players that all the players really want to do before meeting with the media--especially after a tough loss--is to be able to peel off their sweaty equipment and get a drink of water or Gatorade.
I will readily admit, however, that in Europe, the social norms regarding the "place" of female reporters follow Don Cherry's moral imperative, so the "Mixed Zone" allows reporters of both genders to speak with players...
And in leagues like the KHL, the concept of opening up locker rooms to media is still very new and very "foreign," so it's hard to get a "good quote" when players feel like their sacred space is being violated.
Not interacting with the media in a more comfortable environment has its pratfalls. Players getting dragged aside by rights-holders as soon as they get off the ice don't have the chance to compose themselves, and if they aren't familiar with the people who are interviewing them, this kind of interaction, as captured by TSN's Bardown blog's Aaron Stern, reveals that the in-locker-room "cliche machine" players become downright standoffish.
Finland's Petri Kontioly reacted to a Russian reporter's inquiries with a blanket statement that could be loosely translated as, "Leave me alone":
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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.