The AHL All-Star Classic: My First Encounter with Journalism

Matthew Hogan@MattNHLHoganAnalyst IJune 3, 2008

It’s been a while since the AHL All-Star Classic, but as a journalist, I feel the need to share my experiences with everyone.

It was my first “hands on” experience with journalism, an experience that I will never forget. I learned several different things throughout the experience and I hope that by reading this, you can learn a few things from mine.

The article was published in the Binghamton University Pipe Dream back in January.

Saturday, January 26, 2008, 1:16 PM – I just got back from picking up my press credentials at the Binghamton Regency. I was given an All-Star shirt, an All-Star puck, and a white envelope with who-knows-what inside. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning as I opened up the envelope and tore into the folder with the AHL logo on the front. Inside the folder was a list of scheduled events for the media, a few maps of the area for those who aren’t familiar with it, and my “golden ticket,” a press pass with my name on it. Right now I’m still taking everything in as it all seems a bit surreal, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless. I won’t be doing much more today other than planning out what lies ahead. I have a big couple of days ahead of me, starting tomorrow with my first trip into the locker room at 4:45 PM.

Saturday, January 26, 2008, 11:27 PM – I have just finished writing the last of my questions for the players I plan on interviewing tomorrow. I really don’t know what to expect, but after just having watched the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on television, I’m sure I can expect the best. I’m looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere that encompasses such a game, and just like those first-time All-Stars, I can only wait with a sustained anticipation until tomorrow.

Sunday, January 27, 2008, 4:16 PM – I have made my way to my own personal seat in the press box. Seeing my name at the seat sent chills up my spine that can only be duplicated by the empty ice in front of me. The arena, for the moment being, is empty, with the exception of myself and a few other reporters from some major networks. Within the hour I will be entering the locker rooms to interview a few players, another experience which I’m sure will shoot more chills down my spine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008, 6:32 PM – I have survived my first trip into a professional sports locker room as a journalist. My first steps into the Planet USA All-Stars locker room were similar to my first steps into the class room my first day of kindergarten: I didn’t know anybody and I was sweating like Shaq at the foul line. My first interview was with Tuukka Rask, a goalie for the Providence Bruins, and it was an interview that I will never forget. Nothing beyond amazing happened, but as I asked each question, I realized it was getting easier and easier. The next player to interview was Brian Lee of the Binghamton Senators. I felt like I was a pro already. By the time I got to my third player, Brett Sterling of the Chicago Wolves, it was like I was talking to an old friend. I then ventured into the Canadian All-Star locker room and it was a breeze; although I may have still had a few jitters and stuttered on a few questions, it was a great learning experience. The locker rooms were a great chance to see how things work at events such as this. I spoke with other journalists as well and they told me how things were done. Oh, and there was a free media buffet, can’t beat that. Well, the Skills competition is about to start and so I must watch the best the AHL has to offer.

Sunday, January 27, 2008, 9:51 PM – The Skills Competition truly lived up to its name. The players enjoyed themselves quite a bit, as the Planet USA All-Stars defeated the Canadian All-Stars 15-9. I had a great time watching the competition take place, as did all of the Binghamton fans. It was an amazing experience. After the competition ended I watched the fans crowd the ice for autographs from their favorite players, and the players were more than happy to oblige. After snapping a few pictures, I headed to the locker room yet again, for my second encounter with the players; needless to say it was much more relaxed. I talked to goalie Tuukka Rask again and asked him what he thought about his first All-Star experience, he answered by saying, “I was actually just trying not to pull my groin.” Not quite what I expected, but interesting nonetheless. The players were having a lot more fun with one another, ragging on each other for messing up during the competition and joking around with the other reporters. It was a great night overall and I am looking forward to what tomorrow night will bring.

Monday, January 28, 2008, 6:31 PM – I’m back in my seat in the press box and player introductions are about thirty minutes away. The player interviews went even better today. There was a real relaxed atmosphere in the locker room and the game will most likely have the same feel to it. I’m adapting pretty well to this lifestyle of interviewing and writing. I might still be the little fish in what seems to be an ocean, but soon enough I’m sure I’ll grow into a bigger fish and this ocean won’t seem so big. After the game I will have another chance to interview the players. I anticipate the locker rooms being very similar to that of an insane asylum, but I look forward to seeing the players after their All-Star experience is done.

Monday, January 28, 2008, 8:34 PM – The game has about five minutes left in the second period and the crowd is responding amazingly well to these players. It is already 5-5 and it appears that the game will see many more goals before this one is through. Speaking of which, Brett Sterling of the Chicago Wolves has just made it a 6-5 game.

Monday, January 28, 2008, 10:13 PM – Well, it’s all over for me. The game itself was an unbelievable experience. The Canadian All-Stars won in a shootout 9-8. As soon as the MVP presentation was finished I rushed down to the locker room through a sea of fellow reporters to do my interviews. After squeezing my way through the other reporters and talking to the players that I needed to, I took one last look at what I had just accomplished and headed for the exit. On my way out I ran into my new friend Dan who writes for several papers near the Springfield area. A good way to view the relationship I built with Dan over the course of the past two days would be to look at him as the seasoned veteran and myself as the rookie with potential. Dan was a great guy and I learned a lot from him over the course of the past two days. When looking back at my first professional sports experience I really don’t know how to explain how amazing it was, so I’ll let my interview with Manitoba Moose goalie Drew MacIntyre sum it up; “It was a lot of fun. It was something I’ll never forget, something I feel blessed and privileged to be a part of, and hopefully not my last one.” Well said, Drew.


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