Sitting Down with Gene Principe

baggedmilk
April 05 2014 05:18PM

Gene

I got a chance to have a chat with Gene Principe and find out what makes the Prince of Puns tick. I used some of your questions and some from around Nation HQ to find out the history behind his pre-game segments, what keeps him going, who's the best Oiler to interview and some other stuff. Gene's the greatest and it was super cool of him to take the time to chat with me.

Check it out...

Your pre-game segments are unique from what other people are doing, when did you come up with the idea and what is the inspiration behind it?

It started late in the 2006-2007 season. Edmonton was on a stretch where they won 2 of their last 20 games. It was during that time that I started trying to have a little more fun on the broadcasts. The next season I started doing 'unique' pre-game segments. It didn't start as every game but it slowly grew into that until present day.

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@Baresnake asks - How much prep time do you do before a game? Are you coming up with puns all day long?

I do a lot of reading. We have access to newspaper stories from every NHL team's city so we get something sent to us every morning. I read articles for the next 10 Oiler opponents. That generally takes 45 minutes a day. As for game days at the rink by 10:00am. Leave around 1:30 pm. I try to stay away from my phone between 3:00pm-5:00pm but I'm not always successful. Then I'm back at the rink from about 5:30pm-10:30pm. Yes I spend a lot of time thinking about puns. Some come along easily and some not so easily. I wouldn't say all day long but a lot of time is spent on it.

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@David_Arsenault asks - What is your most memorable pre-game segment?

Geez that's a tough one. I remember one I did recently using a Piranha and a Perronha and getting bit by the fish and my hand was bleeding(ketchup). It's so hard to pick most memorable ones.  I think maybe if I had to pick one it was wearing a hot dog suit for Halloween opening and then continuing to wear it the entire game. During the intermission I spoke to Kelly Buchberger and said "This may be the first time in history a hot dog has interviewed a burger."

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@WanyeGretz asks - Is there a pre-game segment that you cannot believe you did? Have you ever had any ideas axed by the network? If so, what was it?

I think the Halloween costume one. There was an opening in Vancouver where I had an umbrella and they poured water first because of how much it rains in Vancouver and then it was 'raining' pucks after Edmonton had scored 8 goals the night before. To be honest I can't believe many of the openings I do. As I'm getting set to do it I wonder what the heck I'm doing and then I do it. I have never had anything axed by the network because I don't tell them in advance.

The season started with so many expectations for a playoff push and obviously the results haven't been there. Does that make things more difficult for you to stay positive during your segments?

It does make it more difficult.  When the team is winning everything feels better. However I try not to let the results impact my demeanour, attitude or approach. It wouldn't be much fun if I did. Also the organization, despite the tough seasons, are fantastic to deal with even during all the tough times. I also have taken the approach of having fun but not making fun of the players, coaches or organization.


There's a video floating around YouTube of Craig MacTavish kicking you out of the room when he was the head coach, have you ever been asked to leave a dressing room before? Has it happened since?

I remember that after a pay per view game. I was interviewing Geoff Sanderson and he kept looking away and finally I looked and MacT gave me the get out of here sign. Craig and I had and continue to have a good working relationship(as far as I know). I have not been kicked out of any other dressing rooms.

Have you ever said something you shouldn't have when the microphones were hot?

Well I have said some things that were heard while the microphone was hot. Luckily it hasn't been anything that was in bad taste. I am very careful about not saying anything near a microphone. I've seen it happen too often.

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@JordanSchwartz9 asks - Which ex-Oiler do you miss interacting with the most? What is the best road story that you can share with us?

Wow a great question(s). I actually miss interacting with Dustin Penner and Chris Pronger. They are two guys that kept you on your toes. You had to be careful with your questions but they made you think about what you were asking. In a different way I miss being around Fernando Pisani. Local kid, fighting a terrible disease, becomes a playoff hero and he's Italian.

Best road story to pass along is hard to think of after 15 years on the job. I remember going on a police ride along in Minnesota that was set up by Dwayne Roloson. What a night! It was an amazing eye opener into the police world. One of my neatest road moments was walking the beach where Baywatch was shot (one year I did see Pamela Anderson in Vancouver). As usual the better stories are one's I can't speak of or at least shouldn't.

Who in the Oiler organization do you always look forward to interviewing?

I actually always like interviewing Craig MacTavish. For a decade he was the coach and I spent countless days and nights speaking to him. He's always been respectful of my work and my questions. I'm sure he hasn't liked all of them but he's never belittled me or been rude. I've always found his answers, especially when he was coach, as being painfully honest. I say painfully because it had to hurt to say some of the things he said during the difficult years but he said it. I don't speak to him as often as the GM but I always look forward to chatting with him.

Do you really like working with Kevin Quinn and Louie Debrusk or is it all an act?

Working with Louie and Kevin is the best. The two of them are great at what they do and great to work with and hang out with on the road. The two of them put up with all my puns and always laugh (even if they aren't funny). I wouldn't do the pre-game segments the way I do if Louie and Kevin weren't willing to go with the flow. I take a few jabs, all in jest, and they never take it the wrong way. Great broadcasters, great friends and not a charade because I do like working with them.

Thanks for taking the time to make a stupid blogger's dream come true! I really appreciate it.

Glad to help out!



You can find Gene Principe on Sportsnet, writing articles for the Oilers, on Twitter, and where all good puns are traded as currency.

94ea28cbbd0f9fe4153692bb3e38b40c
Twitter tyrant for @OilersNation - Resident Jackass - Poor vessel for carrying milk. Follow me on twitter (@jsbmbaggedmilk) - Instagram (@himynameisbaggedmilk) or email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com.
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#51 hagargt
April 05 2014, 11:22PM
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Apologies on that. Hagar will always admit wrong.

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#52 Wonger Sightings all over Arizona......
April 06 2014, 02:29AM
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Bishai in the Benches wrote:

Great article!! Good to have insight from someone who has been around the team. Somewhat surprised that he missed interacting with Pronger... I always got the vibe that he thought he was above anyone in the media, especially a goof who spews puns on the local network.

Still hate #44 though.

"I have never had anything axed by the network because I don't tell them in advance." hahahaha GOLD

Wonger sighting at Jobing.com Friday night! He was also sighted at Dallas Eakins' favourite Italian restaurant in Old Scottsdale last Monday evening! GOTTA LOVE THE WONGER!!!

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#53 RexHolez
April 06 2014, 02:34AM
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I don't know why everyone is so against Gene. He's a goofy, family friendly guy who I think is the most entertaining part of most(if not all) oiler broadcasts. Certainly more entertaining than the team themselves! And just like the team themselves, you can't take them serious.

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#54 David S
April 06 2014, 02:37AM
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Danger Pay wrote:

I wanna know if Gene Boos jean shorts?

This is a given. EVERYBODY BOOS JEANSHORTS!

BOO JEANSHORTS!

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#55 David S
April 06 2014, 02:41AM
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baggedmilk wrote:

If someone is being a dick to our guests the comment will be removed, it's not hard. We have full time moderators that watch the comments now and it's up to their discretion what stays and what goes.

WHY is this so hard to understand???

YAY BAGGEDMILK!

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#56 RexHolez
April 06 2014, 02:56AM
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baggedmilk wrote:

If someone is being a dick to our guests the comment will be removed, it's not hard. We have full time moderators that watch the comments now and it's up to their discretion what stays and what goes.

What an adrenaline rush it most be for those moderators.... I can only dream of having such power!!! "By a push of a button I will decide who is heard and whose faint screams will fade Into obscurity!!"

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#57 Bill
April 06 2014, 06:14AM
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I personally prefer 'Gene lite' as opposed to the foppery. He is an excellent interviewer who whose professionalism works and stands alone just fine IMO.

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#58 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
April 06 2014, 06:24AM
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@Bill

This is my view as well. I've had enough of the puns, but I've got no problem with the guy himself. If people complain that he falls back on the "how did that feel?" question too much, I say: does it really matter? The answer's gonna be the same anyway. Blahblahblah work ethic, blahblah didn't get the bounces, blahblahblah good habits.

NHL players are the most boring interview in pro sports.

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#59 Craig1981
April 06 2014, 06:26AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

It seems that the truth rides in the back while political correctness steers the good ship 'Oilernation'. At least according to you. My opinion is that Gene's antics contribute to the least professional broadcast effort among the major pro sports. Nothing against him personally, I just think that the game should remain the focus rather than the broadcasters. Also, if someone's comments rub people the wrong way, too bad. It's a free world.

If K-lowe was to do an interview, disagreeing with him is one thing, but calling his mom a wh*re is something else. Comments made about Josh Harding in a MS interview might be inappropriate, but fine in discussing would contract you would offer him. Its about tact and respect. Free speech is different than the right to slander

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#60 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 06 2014, 07:18AM
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admiralmark wrote:

I got censored out too. And it was just a difference of opinion.. So guess thats the direction this site is going? Either that or Gene Principe has a whole lot more pull then we realize?

Difference of opinion is one thing, but being a d*** is another.

If your comment wasn't offensive, than this site is becoming a joke. Two years ago, I wouldn't believe you. Now, I'm not sure.

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#61 -30-
April 06 2014, 07:49AM
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Gene Principe or Game of Thrones tonight? Easy decision.

-30-

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#62 Serious Gord
April 06 2014, 09:52AM
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baggedmilk wrote:

If someone is being a dick to our guests the comment will be removed, it's not hard. We have full time moderators that watch the comments now and it's up to their discretion what stays and what goes.

That is a very slippery slope.

Unless the comment is vulgar/profane or libelous it should not be deleted.

Otherwise the site becomes beholden to those who are its guests. IOW those who cooperate will get nicer treatment than those who don't. Another word for it is influence-peddling.

Guess I will have to start saving screenshots of any post that is critical of a guest...

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#63 Serious Gord
April 06 2014, 09:55AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

This is my view as well. I've had enough of the puns, but I've got no problem with the guy himself. If people complain that he falls back on the "how did that feel?" question too much, I say: does it really matter? The answer's gonna be the same anyway. Blahblahblah work ethic, blahblah didn't get the bounces, blahblahblah good habits.

NHL players are the most boring interview in pro sports.

Chicken and egg. The players give pat answers to pat questions.

How about asking gagner how likes the nickname "snow pants"? Or questioning Hall on the high turnover rate he has rushing into the offensive zone?

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#64 admiralmark
April 06 2014, 10:19AM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Gene sucks !

Hope he moves to circus where he can express his talent as a clown.

Why wouldn't the cannibal eat the clown? Ans: Because he tastes funny. Now back up to two guys that laugh at my jokes nooooo matter what!

*This was my post that was censored out last night. I was making a pun out of the Taylordballs post. And illustrating the ease one can make a pun out of just about anything. I guess you could say the last part was a bit prickish. But censure worthy?

Anyways I think puns are just a corny gimmick and the routine they have going is tacky. I do not wish anything bad on Gene Principe I just wish that he would stop with the cringe worthy openings. Humour is a matter of taste but it's not a new idea that puns are widely thought of as irritating to some degree.

Even Sigmund Freud waded in on the topic explaining the pun's lowly stature with the fact that they are "the cheapest- and can be made with the least trouble.

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#65 nunyour
April 06 2014, 11:25AM
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Nice interview ,I enjoy reading them.Maybe you could interview a pro.coach,I would be interested in hearing of the different systems being used in the NHL,fore check,power play etc.I read how fans don't like the 1-3-1 power play but have seen other teams use it.Do successful teams all use the same systems?

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#66 Total Points
April 06 2014, 11:30AM
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I look forward to Gene's opening segment.

After all it is a game and should be fun, and Gene always brings a smile to my face. Ok, sometimes a groan but still with a smile.

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#69 Bringbackslats
April 06 2014, 12:50PM
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Abby Oil wrote:

Gene is a goofy guy. Clearly he has quite a following for that reason, both positive and negative. Same could be said for the former TSN duo of Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole. I personally think all 3 are great and have their place.

Yes Sportsnet is lacking and you know what? It's not just in Edmonton. Here on the Coast I have the pleasure of watching such guys as John Garrett and Gary Valk analyze the Canucks on almost any given night. No thanks. Can't stand the Canucks for obvious reasons and these guys are pretty blatant homers.

Just my thoughts.

Please don't put Gene in the same league as the great Onrait and O'Toole. Those guys are in a class all by themselves, and pioneered a change in the way sports highlights are delivered. Seriously to compare Gene to those guys is akin to comparing the Oilers to the Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings.

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#70 The Towel Boy
April 06 2014, 02:29PM
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GENE SPEAKS TO MY SOUL.

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#71 Abby Oil
April 06 2014, 03:21PM
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@Bringbackslats

I totally agree with you in the sense that Onrait and O'Toole are in a class all by themselves.

My point was that when they started together and even right up to the move down south, many folk did not care for their style or presentation. I for one did, but just like Gene, I think you either love them or you think otherwise.

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#72 Harlie
April 06 2014, 05:20PM
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Gene-ious interview with the Prince-ipal of puns.

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#73 916oiler
April 07 2014, 10:47AM
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Principe is ANNOYING! Also very embarrassing watching games with non oiler fan friends who say 'no wonder your team sucks!'.

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