I was reading an interesting article in the Hockey News at lunchtime today. It seems that senior sportswriter Ken Campbell is upset that he and other writers were cut off in the dressing room last night while trying to ask questions of All-Star MVP Eric Staal. According to Campbell, the Hurricanes “Media Relations guy” told everyone that Eric had answered enough questions.
I’ll quote part of the article here (the link to it is above).
SORRY, NO MORE FOR ERIC
In the NHL’s defense, the league has worked very hard to connect with its fans and expose its young stars in an effort to get hockey into the consciousness of the U.S. fan base.
But old habits do die hard. Here we were at the All-Star Game and Eric Staal was named the most valuable player. (Rick Nash was jobbed out of the award for the second straight year, but I digress.) In the middle of the dressing room, the Carolina Hurricanes media relation’s guy cut off questions and denied several other major news outlets the opportunity to speak with Staal, citing he had already answered enough questions.
My word. Last time I checked, the Hurricanes weren’t exactly conjuring up images of the New York Yankees. After winning the Stanley Cup two years ago, the Hurricanes have struggled to remain competitive and are not exactly a household name. You’d think they’d welcome the chance to showcase one of their young players whenever possible.
Yeah, you’d think. Of course, this is the same organization that recently derailed the opportunity of having itself on the cover of The Hockey News. Earlier this month, we hatched the idea of doing a cover story on Hurricanes winger Ray Whitney with the premise that he is the funniest man in hockey. It was the kind of lighthearted, interesting off-ice story we thought would offer an interesting change of pace.
When we approached the Hurricanes with the request, we received the following response: “Ray Whitney does not want to talk about his sense of humor. He will be happy to talk about hockey, but he does not want to discuss his sense of humor.”
And then people in the league wonder why the NHL can’t beat strongman competitions from the 1970s in television ratings.
First of all, there are two sides to every story.
Maybe Staal had a plane to catch and was short on time. Maybe the media relations guy was pressed for time for some reason. Maybe Staal gave him a time limit beforehand and the limit had been reached.
As far as the Ray Whitney story goes, maybe the Canes didn’t think that it was appropriate to run a story about “The Wizard” clowning around while the team was in the middle of a losing streak. Perhaps Ray didn’t want to do the story himself for some other reason. It does seem odd that Ray wouldn’t want to discuss his sense of humor—Whitney almost goes out of his way to show humor in everything that is put out by the Hurricanes Canesvision and Fox Sports staff.
Campbell does have a valid point though about the NHL needing to do what’s necessary to grow the game and, in my humble opinion, the Hurricanes media people do seem a bit lacking or inflexible regarding some things.
What good does it do the franchise if their players are the best kept secrets in the sports world, let alone Raleigh?
UPDATE—Hurricanes Director of Media Relations Mike Sundheim responded to Campbell’s article here and the Hockey News has since changed their story a bit. Maybe we will be seeing an article about Ray Whitney after all?