Sunday, October 28, 2007

So Ricky, what happened?

I figured at some point with this blog I'd clue readers in to what happens with the media in the locker room after a game. What better game to use as an illustration than last night's?

NHL rules dictate that your dressing room must be opened to the media within five minutes of the end of the game. Before the lockout the NHL rule was ten minutes. Now it's five. In the business it's called a "cooling period," as in the players have five minutes to cool off before the inquisition. They sometimes have a little more time because if the game is close, the writers take a little longer to compose their stories before making the pilgrimmage from the Coliseum press box to the locker room hallway.

Alas, that wasn't a problem last night.

Don't for a second think I'm trying to make this sound like brain surgery. It's not even Algebra, another thing I was never very good at. But here's how we make our players available to the media.

NHL rules say that all players must be accessible to the press post-game, but let's face it: on most games the reporters really want to hear from just 3-5 players plus the head coach. Rules also dictate that reporters have access anywhere in the locker room facility except for the trainer's room and the bathroom/shower area. Our preference is whenever possible to keep the interviews in the main area and not where the players have their post-game workouts. With all the treadmills, arcs and bikes and all the weights being thrown around, it can be dangerous in there.

So with about five minutes left in the game, Corey Witt jots the numbers of the players we expect will be requested by the media on the locker room board. The message my staff is sending is for those chosen players to do their best to stick around the main dressing room so can meet our media requirements. I'm happy to say we have a very cooperative group this season. Last night proves it.

On Saturday reporters got Rick DiPietro five minutes after the final horn sounded. (As I tell the players in my media talks, there's no business like it where five minutes after a tough day at the office, a dozen people with microphones and notebooks are asking you about it). Cynics can say it comes with the territory, but I still think the professionalism should be respected.

Rick answered each of the half-dozen questions with as much grace as you could probably expect. The goalie was followed by Mike Sillinger, whom the media has come to rely on as a good man for perspective in situations like this. Then came Bill Guerin, who knows facing the music is a big part of being the captain.

The press corps last night seemed satisfied with the trio of players, so Corey went to get Ted Nolan and the coach was in his post-game press conference room two minutes after Guerin. So last night if you were John Jeansonne, filling in for Greg Logan at Newsday, you had all the quotes you needed from three Islanders players and the head coach within 20 minutes of the end of the game.

I'm not sure how that compares to other leagues. Okay, actually I do, but there's no point going there. This is how it works in the NHL, and I thought you should know.

Here's hoping we're done in 20 minutes on Thursday, but this time it's after a win.

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