BOTCHED

Brian Sutherby
October 11 2013 06:48PM

The dressing room is supposed to be a safe place for players. That is said time and again between coaches and players. Things that are said or happen between those walls stay between those walls.

Joe Thornton is making headlines today, for a comment he directed in a humorous way at a scrum of reporters that were interviewing another player. He was not being interviewed himself. He said something sarcastic about scoring four goals in one game and what he would do to celebrate.

““I’d have my c*** out, if I scored four goals. I’d have my c*** out, stroking it.”

 

RESPECT

There is no actual line or set rule between media and players of what is and isn’t on the record. As a player there is just an understanding and trust that if someone asks you for an interview or if you can chat with a microphone in your face, that is when it's on the record.

Generally media members show the respect and know that chatter throughout the locker room amongst teammates and off the cuff jokes at reporters are not considered on the record.

The fact that there is no actual rule unfortunately leaves Joe with no one to blame but himself. He now has to live with the comment and every player in the league is now more aware that there are a few amongst the media they cannot trust.

BOTCHFORD

The man who published those comments about Joe was Jason Botchford, who can be found on TSN discussing STUDS & DUDS each week.

He had this to say on TSN's That's Hockey! show when asked why he published the quote.

 

“Frankly, it was a pretty easy decision for me. It’s nonsense that this is off the record. Joe interrupted, with insolence another scrum to tell a reporter, Farhan Lalji of TSN, to ‘shut up.’ Twenty reporters turned to Joe, he said his joke, and a joke that really made the whole Hertl discussion seem ridiculous. I think it was appropriate to go forward with publishing the quote, for a lot of reasons.
First and foremost, because I work for a publication that asks me to think, write and report with edge, and that’s what I think I did today.” “The problem here for Joe is that he said the comment to about 20 reporters. I looked around, about half of them had cameras. If any of them had reported it, and I had not, I would have been called to the carpet by my boss and asked why I didn’t publish one of the quotes of the year.”

 

Fair enough, in all likelihood he would have been called to the red carpet by his boss, but I only saw one of the 20 reporters actually publish the quotes. They most likely have bosses too and I'd bet every reporter around the league could do this daily if they chose to.

NOT RIGHT

If Joe Thornton was not directly in a media scrum with 20 microphones in his face or in a one on one with someone, then I don’t know why this is something that is being published.

If it was something that Jason Botchford thought was on the record, the polite thing to do would be to ask Joe if that was ‘on the record’ or a useable quote. 

Everyone knows the obvious answer.

TRUST

Ultimately the people that may be affected by this action are other media members trying cozy up and earn the trust of players so that in time they can snag a juicer quote. Over the years I considered many media members my friends and I assume vice versa.

Most hockey players are a difficult quote. The trickle down is potentially less comfort from the players and an even more watered down version of your token cliché from players to the fans.

SHHHH

Now some people will say “well just don’t say anything while the media is there”

What usually happens for players is you come off the ice and many times you are getting undressed and the locker room is filled with media. Media members come in every morning and post game to get their quotes. Some stay to shoot the breeze and as players you develop great trust with these guys and can eventually talk about certain things that maybe aren’t things you want made public. 

It’s not like players can hide, some media stick around for 20 minutes or more. Asking players to not speak across their own dressing room is not the solution.

STUDS & DUDS

Should Joe Thornton have been more careful with what he said? Sure.

Should Jason Botchford have been more thoughtful with what he published? Yes.

If it was up to me, the media wouldn’t be allowed in the actual dressing room anymore. Players would be brought to a specific media room when requested by the media. Eliminate that invisible line for everyone.

For the respectful ones in the media and the fans it would be unfortunate but I could eventually see this happen.

Mr. Botchford, you sir are a DUD.

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
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#51 Marlow
October 12 2013, 09:19AM
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As a former sports reporter myself, I most likely would have asked Thornton a bit later if I could run with the quote before doing so. Brian is absolutely right. Many reporters spend years building relationships with players and most players worked with knew that unless I had a microphone in your face, it was off the record...pure and simple. Maybe it was because I worked primarily with junior players but I was always especially careful not to run anything that could be considered off the record or do anything to break the trust that I spent a long time building. And because of that, I never had a problem talking with players as they knew I wasn't going to throw them under the bus just to publish a juicy quote.

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#52 Jumbo
October 12 2013, 10:37AM
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Brent - Joe didn't care, handled it like a class act actually, made botch look like an idiot

Joel k - Exactly he's the reporter equivalent of a troll and this is exactly what he wants

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#53 Jackson
October 12 2013, 10:56AM
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With Botchford the issue is never the issue. The issue is always ratings.

Botchford is a troll.

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#54 nunyour
October 12 2013, 10:59AM
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There's lots of reporters that are morons,and lack common sence.

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#55 onevoline
October 11 2013, 08:33PM
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I think the idea of a designated media room, and keeping the locker room closed, make so much sense that I cannot imagine who resists it. It just seems so invasive to ask a guy who just finished a high intensity athletic endeavour, and is now taking off all of his clothes, to try to answer questions that are often kind of pushy and even rude.

That said, isn't it also ridiculous for Thornton to pull the the "you didn't play the game" card? I gotta think that Lalji's question, which was surely a dumb one, still had to be asked, and it doesn't do anyone any good to treat the guy asking it like he is an idiot for doing his job.

Finally, this is likely one of the biggest stories of Botchford's career. He burned a bridge (probably a bunch of them) but one of his stories was covered and discussed across the league. Websites like deadspin, which trade in these kinds of salacious details of the lives of athletes, are exceptionally popular. I can't help but feel that the enormous market for a story like this is part of why this is happening too. I don't believe that makes it right, but it is asking a lot of people like Botchford, in the current media climate, to resist reporting something like that. Just sayin'.

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#56 #ThereGoesTheOilers
October 11 2013, 09:29PM
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Given how awesome this quote is, I kinda hope Joe has a 4 goal night now.

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#57 Cam Charron
October 11 2013, 10:11PM
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"If it was up to me, the media wouldn’t be allowed in the actual dressing room anymore. Players would be brought to a specific media room when requested by the media. Eliminate that invisible line for everyone."

This is how it works in junior hockey and it is a much, MUCH better format.

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#58 SammyD
October 11 2013, 10:49PM
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The NBA has a long tradition of bringing out the coaches and star players to a media room for Q&A. And it's now all on the record. Make as many jokes as you want there. Shaq was the master of using the post-game interview room as his own personal warm-up for his stand up comedy. Media only gets into the locker room when championships are won and the champagne is flowing - anyone recall Jordan crying like a baby holding onto the trophy? And then 20 minutes later there he is in the media room answering questions.

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#59 Craig1981
October 12 2013, 08:11AM
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Gored wrote:

Sean Avery's "sloppy seconds" comment was widely reported and he was crucified but there was no discussion among the media if perhaps that was a poor attempt at humor and should have been omitted. You guys are as pathetic as the NHL OPS for you are willing to censor comments based on who made them.

OMG you missed the point. Sean Avery actually said "do you have a camera" and then made the comments after the reporter said sure!

At 48 seconds he asked for the camera!!! TOTALLY different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR8aQCCf60o

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#60 LoweBlow
October 12 2013, 08:45AM
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I thought it was hilarious, and true. Are we forgetting that these are athletes in a dressing room? It's not like they have a cup of tea after the game.

Giggle, or don't. Then move on.

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#61 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 12 2013, 09:28AM
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Off topic, but the Jets have lost three straight. Where are all the Winnipeg fans that were here stirring up crap a couple weeks ago?

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#62 vetinari
October 12 2013, 10:00AM
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In the old days, if reporters felt that a quote was newsworthy but they didn't want to disclose the identity of the source, wouldn't they just say "a teammate interrupted the scrum and said, (quote)"?

It got the substance out there without damaging the trust with the players.

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#63 Hammers
October 12 2013, 10:05AM
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What else would you expect from Botchford . Don't think Willes or Jones or Matheson would write that .

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#64 Brent
October 12 2013, 10:11AM
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So has anyone asked Thorton if he wanted his comments published? (I haven't been following what his response has been.) Maybe he doesn't care? Although crude, it is kind of funny, and did shut down the people criticizing Hertle, which is maybe what a captain should do.

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#65 Joel k
October 12 2013, 10:21AM
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Botch is an idiot, he does not have much of a reputation in Vancouver. He asks stupid questions only to get reactions, he is a hack.

The fact we are talking about him makes him happy. So in a way he wins,

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#66 Cale
October 12 2013, 10:44AM
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This is such a non-story it's ridiculous. If the "code" says that things that get yelled at groups of reporters holding recording equipment don't get reported, then the "code" is *obviously* wrong.

Botch did absolutely nothing wrong, and neither did Thornton. The only people who are doing anything wrong are those bitching and whining about unwritten rules and trying to justify how those rules mean people shouldn't be allowed to do their job.

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#67 Rama Lama
October 12 2013, 10:51AM
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Jason Bitchford just screwed himself........I wonder how many hockey players are going to ttrust this loser now.

Imagine Eakins sitting up with the press like he does at each practice..........just how long would he do that if those same reporters were violating that trust by reporting everything he said?

Bitchford is callously promoting himself by hiding behind the pathetic argument that his boss would be pissed if he passed up this story.

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#68 EugeneV
October 11 2013, 09:38PM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

Ummm...I don't need to score 4 goals to celebrate like that. My criteria is much less stringent. I celebrate a lot is what I'm trying to say.

Yeah; but it IS better after scoring 4 goals.

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#69 Pouzar99
October 12 2013, 02:44AM
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In my 30 years as a journalist it was always clear that anything a public figure said without an explicit agreement BEFOREHAND was on the record. Joe Thornton has been around long enough to know that, not that I was offended by his comment. It just shows Joe has a bawdy sense of humor.

Believe me every public figure would love to talk glibly and wildly in front of reporters without fear of their words coming back to huant them. The warrior-worshipers masquerading as journalists in Afghanistan, gave US General Stanley McCrystal that privlege without an agreement and he got away with saying some wild things. He made the mistake of making mocking comments about the Vice President in front a of a real journalist, Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone, and he is now enjoying life as a civilian.

Journalism is a job. You are not in it to make friends with your subjects or enjoy hanging out with celebrities. It is certainly fair to cut non public figures some slack, and judgement will always be required. I am not criticizing the 20 reporters who did not report Thornton's quote. It is not like he said the referees are blind pigs. I am only defending the one person who reported the quote. He betrayed no one, and broke no rule. He only used his discretion to report something that may make his job more difficult in the future.

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#70 puckapades
October 12 2013, 03:00AM
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Let me try and sum it up for everyone here. WHO THE EFFING HELL CARES?

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#71 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 12 2013, 08:04AM
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puckapades wrote:

Let me try and sum it up for everyone here. WHO THE EFFING HELL CARES?

this. 1000 times this.

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#72 Cbsicbb
October 12 2013, 10:07AM
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I think this is freaking hilarious! Why do so many people need to make such a big deal over this? The comment was off the cuff and it was funny! This kind of quote shows some personality from the player instead of the media groomed guys like Crosby that can't or won't let anybody know that they are actually humans with a sense of HUMOR. If you didn't find it funny, you didn't laugh. SIMPLE AS THAT. Move on and stop giving the idiot that decided to report it the attention he so obviously craves.

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#73 netzky99
October 12 2013, 11:22AM
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The comments by Jumbo should not have been printed for sure, but his statement is bang on (no pun intended) and pretty funny IMO. The guy was frusrtrated with some questions being asked and did what any good leader does, and sticks up for his team mates. Good on him...

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#74 bwar
October 12 2013, 05:39PM
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Sometimes I like to "score 4" right before I go to bed.

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#75 BJ
October 13 2013, 10:12AM
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And by reprinting the quote you are also contributing to this regardless of your opinion.... media... they just dont get it

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