Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland plays many roles for his team. His primary job is to shut down the opponent's offensive players.
Media direction doesn't fall into his job description.
Bolland has come under fire for comments made on Monday on WGN Chicago Blackhawks Live!. The broadcast was at Harry Carey's Steakhouse in front of an audience of fans who paid to hear Dave Kaplan, Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas shoot the breeze with Bolland, and 'Hawks goalie Corey Crawford.
The Vancouver Sun took great offense at the comments Bolland made on Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Bolland referred to the two as the Sedin "sisters" and insisted that the two would never become Blackhawks. Then he suggested that the two NHL stars sleep in bunk beds.
If Bolland had called a press conference and hammered the Canucks standouts in front of the national media, I don't think Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault may have had recourse to respond in the fashion he did:
“When you have comments like Bolland’s, obviously (it’s) an individual whose IQ is probably the size of a bird seed and he’s got a face that only a mother could look at,” Vigneault said, according to TSN.
Again, if Bolland had released the statement to TSN ridiculing the Sedins, the city of Vancouver would have cause for uproar. Vigneault would have ample bulletin board material for when his club hosts Chicago at the end of next month.
That isn't the case. Bolland isn't the first guy to refer to the Sedins as sisters. Kaplan does it in his first question less than a minute into the hour-long broadcast.
"That's right, you heard it," Kaplan said to the assembled group of fans.
Bolland definitely picked up on the jovial vibe in the room, which was informal and geared to the fans.
The comments that drew Vigneault's ire came in the last minutes of the show.
Andrea Darlas: "Like Carcillo (who's arrival in Chicago had been discussed earlier), if the Sedins become Hawks, will they still be sisters (big chuckle from Kaplan and the fans)?"
Bolland: "Well, they'll never become Hawks (applause). I don't think we'd let them on our team. That'd probably be one thing. We'd be sure not to let them on our team (laughs all around). And, yeah, they probably still would be sisters (chuckles). I think they might sleep in, like, bunk beds (more laughs). The older one has the bottom one, the younger one's got the top. So—I don't know."
Throughout, Bolland feeds on the reactions by Kaplan (the guy moderating the show) and the audience (enjoying dinner and the show). The quote that runs in the paper doesn't reflect the reactions along with Bolland pausing several times before adding a bit more to keep the good times going.
If you take the comments in the tongue and cheek fashion in which it was presented, there isn't much to be upset about. A little kid asked Bolland if he hated some of the Canucks or all of them. Bolland responded that he hated all of them. Big laughs, kid sits down. What more would you expect?
Hey, if we're looking to create controversy, take a gander at what Bolland added to the Carcillo discussion minutes earlier. Kaplan asked about a player like Carcillo coming aboard after being an enemy with the Flyers. After Crawford explained that the 'Hawks welcomed him into the locker room, and that Carbomb is a good guy who keeps the locker room loose, Bolland added this:
"For myself, I grew up playing with him (Carcillo), I started playing against him in juniors. I think, like, you play against him, you just want to run him and hurt him (more yuks from everyone), but now he's on your team so it's a bit of a different story. I think you welcome him and you enjoy him, and I think he's been a great acquisition for us."
That seems a bit stronger talk than the bunk bed comment, but since it's all about a teammate, no big whoop. The national press declined to pick up on Bolland wanting to injure a NHL player.
Could it be because the Sun only wanted to stir up some controversy in the embers of a 'Hawks-Canucks rivalry?
I would advise fans on both sides not to take the bait. Bolland didn't say anything that was groundbreaking. Players on both teams don't like each other. Everybody's inclined to chirping on the ice and through the media. We're aware of this.
A lot of critics blast Kaplan for creating the atmosphere that led to the comments. Again, consider the context of the interview. It wasn't an in-depth expose, just a loose, blue collar get together at a local watering hole that happened to be broadcast on WGN.
Bolland probably could have played things closer to the vest, as Crawford chose to do. But this was far from the attack Vigneault made it out to be.
Henrik Sedin seemed to take the comments for what they were worth.
“Who cares?” Sedin told reporters. “I have a lot of respect for a lot of guys on that team. We’re not playing them for another few weeks so I don’t know where that came from.”
That's because the comments weren't really meant for Vancouver ears. Just write it off to a player playing up to the boys at the bar and get back to the action over the boards.