Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Next question: scary interview subjects

7th Woman asks:

In all your years experience, which player would make you worry the most every time they were interviewed by the media?

There were a few.

John Vanbiesbrouck: We had John during the infamous 2000-01 season, when the team finished 30th. Beezer is a good man and great quote, but he'd scare the heck out of me from time to time. The most notorious moment was when he led Post reporter Barry Baum into the locker room and roasted him in front of the rest of the Islanders players for a story John said was untrue. Trouble is, Vanbiesbrouck didn't include me in the meeting - or tell me he was having it, or even tell me he was pissed about Baum's article - so I looked like a stiff. We played the Senators that day and the Ottawa writers, a bit shy to take on the veteran goalie, ripped the PR guy in their newspapers instead. I learned my lesson and vowed it would never happen again.

Michael Peca: Not complaining about Pecs. I think he enjoyed keeping me on edge, is all. The press loved him. He once admitted to me in his Pecaresque way that he loved the media just as much. What I liked about Mike is that, on the really bad losses, he always came up big in the post-game scrum - just as Billy Guerin did last year. Peca spoke from the heart and did not pull any punches. That's what caused me agita once in a while.

Any head coach reporting injuries: If I had one more crack at the gig, I'd push for the NFL-style of reporting injuries. Basically, you hand out a daily, full-disclosure list of the injured players, their ailments and their status. This is not to pick on Ted, Peter Laviolette or anyone else. Fact is, NHL coaches have enough on their minds without having to keep every trainer's update straight. An official daily report would take the onus off them and eliminate the annual miscommunications that eventually lead to Logan killing us on his blog.

Kirk Muller: From the day he was acquired until the day he was traded, Kirk never once told the truth - to the team, to the media, to me.

On a lighter note, speaking of interesting interviewees, let me end with a Mike Milbury story. One year we're at the draft and Mike is led to the grand podium because, as you know, he usually was a story at the draft. The questions are coming at him from all corners of a packed press conference area.

One question comes and Mike cannot see his interrogator. He scans the room, squints his eyes into the bright lights and sees the reporter with the question. Turns out it's David J. Neal, at the time the Panthers' beat writer for the Miami Herald. This is the part where I should tell you that David is Rastafarian.

So Milbury finally locates David, who emerges through the glare of the lights with a raised hand and a sheepish grin on his face. Milbury senses what everyone in the cramped room is feeling - that somehow he couldn't locate the one reporter in the press conference who was black and dressed head to toe in full Rasta splendor.

Mike smiles and says, "Geez, David, how the hell did I miss ya"?


islesblogger said...

So the Beezer was tough on the press eh? I guess I am glad there were no bloggers back then!

Peca seemed to have the same qualities as Guerin, Sillinger and Witt. I likely would have loved listening to him speak to the scrum as much as I do the above three. I don't know how many times I have literally had to walk away this past season because I couldn't hold a laugh in as Silly was speaking. He just speaks how he wants to speak.

Muller. Enough said.

I think that story about Mad Mikey is now my second favorite about him.

Excellent post Chris, as always!

Michael Schuerlein

7th Woman said...

Wow! No heart failure for you from short, blonde and angry? I'm surprised. And Please, oh PLEASE work on a book about your years with Mike! That has NY Times Best Seller all over it!

Islanders Outsider said...

Chris, seeing as how Beezer left you completely in the dark, what did you do to make sure that it would never happen again? Was it just a matter of hammering home rules and protocol for players dealing with the press?