After watching a number of post-game interviews and press conferences featuring Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger (courtesy of NHL.com’s and TSN’s websites), one thing is for sure: If a media member tries to be a smart-ass or asks a stupid question, he will get the same attitude back in spades from Pronger—and deservedly so.
While the media and hockey fans both thirst for interviews and press conferences, for the players, spending 20 minutes with the media—especially after a tough loss—must be like getting kicked in the groin with steel toe boots...both painful and not something you’d want to do on a regular basis!
For many NHL players, making themselves available to the media is both a hassle and a total bore. Time after time, we hear the same questions directed towards players by the media. Sure, they may re-word the questions a hundred different ways, but essentially, they are one in the same.
Riddle me this, Batman...just how boring is it for the players to continually have to answer the “oh-so-obvious” questions?
Or, when a media member tries to be a smart-ass, how stupid and annoying is it for a player to have to say “next question” upwards of five times before he/she gets the bloody point?
Dude, he’s not going to answer the question. This isn’t going to be a case where you can pressure the “witness” a la the movie A Few Good Men, in which Jack Nicholson’s character breaks under the pressure of questioning.
Put yourself in Pronger’s position.
Coming off a career-worst playoff game in which Pronger went an alarming minus-five on the night, one media member actually had the gall to ask, “Besides yourself, what else has to be good tomorrow?”
Pronger’s response: “Well, we’ll fix your hair first, and then...”
Was Pronger being a smart-ass? Absolutely!
Did the Philadelphia media member deserve to be made fun of? Well, maybe not, but his question was off-side. I mean, what exactly did he expect Pronger to say? Was Pronger supposed to “out” his teammates? Say, “Leighton sucked?” Tell the media the forwards needed to back-check more?
Let’s face it, despite the fact that many fans feel Pronger owes them and the media something, he doesn’t. And, if Pronger chooses to handle the media with a little fun and the odd insult, so be it!
Flyers forward Ian Laperriere spoke fondly when asked about Pronger’s antics, stating, “I love the guy, you know? I mean, whatever he says, it’s funny, you know? Because he’s backing it up. I mean, everything he says, he’s the best player out there, you know? I don’t care what they said, I don’t care whoever said, he’s backing it up, he’s a force out there.”
And doesn’t that give Pronger the right to say whatever the heck he wishes during a press conference?
Shouldn’t his play speak for itself?
At the Winter Classic in Boston, I had the opportunity to sit in on a press conference that featured both Pronger and Flyers captain Mike Richards.
During the conference, both players (a lot more cordial than Pronger has been throughout the playoffs) looked bored to tears and in desperate need of a laugh.
Richards, who arrived with a baseball in his hands, looked a little tense, so when it came to my question, I started it off by saying, “Mike, I noticed you came in with that baseball, is that meant for the media member who asks the wrong question today? Should I be nervous?”
Both Pronger and Richards got a little chuckle out of that, with Richards responding, “Yeah, you all better beware,” and Pronger chiming in, “Word to the wise.”
To be honest, I do not remember what my actual question was, but I do remember that moment—it stood out as something out of the norm.
I think it was the first time any of either of these players cracked a smile at any of the media events...not cool!
With just a little humor and creativity, both players were a lot more open and relaxed—it’s just that simple folks: Don’t just ask questions. Engage in conversation and just be yourself.
Pronger doesn’t want to hear the same old questions a hundred times over. No NHL player does.
Fact is, asking the obvious/repetitive question will only get a cliche response in return anyways, so what’s the point? It’s like watching a tennis match that just won’t end...it’s boring!
I guess what I am saying to both the critics and some of the media is this: “Lighten up, folks!”
It’s the Stanley Cup Finals, for gosh sakes!
Why not do what Pronger does—have a little fun with it? Why not (like Pronger) try something out of the norm? Why not (like Pronger) be different and bold?
As the lovable character Forrest Gump once said, “Stupid is as stupid does”...and if you keep “doing it,” Pronger is gonna make you look stupid!
For more NHL news and notes check out my website at www.theslapshot.com
Until next time,
***For more NHL news and notes check out my website at www.theslapshot.com