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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#1 Taylor Gang
April 05 2014, 05:55PM
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With how good he is with his puns, it's almost as if it's in his... Genes.

*returns to the corner of the room*

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#4 Craig1981
April 05 2014, 06:07PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Gene sucks !

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

We all know full well that Gene will read this. Being hidden behind a computer screen doesn't excuse someone from being an a$$hole.

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#6 shredder
April 05 2014, 05:37PM
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Gene's a lot smarter than he's given credit for. He always asks the questions...I'd be interested in his opinions of what the Oilers need to fix this group...few people know the oilers like he does.

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#7 Craig1981
April 05 2014, 06:02PM
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@TayLordBalls

Your user name is "TayLordBalls", your user icon is something even a redneck would roll his eyes at, and you have such great creative writing as "Gene sucks !" (there is no need to space the exclamation mark, treat it the same as a period). If you think you can do better get into broadcast and go do it, but with my points listed above I doubt you would get far. Props to Gene for success in a difficult profession

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#8 blue31
April 05 2014, 06:32PM
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I groan. I roll my eyes. Sometimes I even cringe.

But I have a lot of respect for a man with the cojones to sometimes embarrass himself in front of the masses. Unlike anonymous cowards (cough cough TayLordBalls) who take chickensht shots from the peanut gallery.

Don't stop, Gene.

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#9 Bringbackslats
April 05 2014, 05:46PM
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I don't know bagged milk... I have enjoyed your contributions until today. The entire Rogers broadcast is a joke and Eugene's the jester and not at all in a good way. Somehow watching these clowns losing season after losing season only makes it worse. I actually get uncomfortable on behalf of players that have to answer his ill prepared and unthought out questions. His repetative use of famousgo to "how did that feel...?" Every interview he injects that at least once. Last night he asked Justin how it felt to get the first goal and then asked Doan in the 2nd intermission how it felt to tie the game...Really? That's the best interviewer they can get. The guy wouldn't know a legit piece of journalism if it straightened out his oil soaked curls. People blast Rishaug on this site but at least he knows something about hockey. It's unnerving to look forward to the Rogers broadcasts in the coming years. I sincerely hope the executives are serious about attaining a competent team that at least aims for the benchmark set by TSN. Until they do I'll watch the games with the volume off and listen to the radio.

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#10 vetinari
April 05 2014, 06:24PM
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Gene seems like a sincerely nice guy and has a tough job trying to make an Oilers' telecast a positive experience given years of horrible on ice results. Yes, some nights, I could use a little less puns but yet I find myself tuning it for the pregame segment night after night so he must be doing something right. Good interview guys...

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#11 TayLordBalls
April 05 2014, 05:37PM
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Gene sucks !

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

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#12 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 05 2014, 06:28PM
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Good stuff, BM.

Gene's a dude. Sure some stuff isn't that funny, but if you're hating on something small/innocent like that, you must have a lot of holes in your walls.

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#13 Eulers
April 05 2014, 05:41PM
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That was fun! Thanks baggedmilk & Gene!

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#14 Bishai in the Benches
April 05 2014, 05:31PM
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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

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#15 Chris
April 05 2014, 08:39PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

admin removed my response

Why?

Could be because of your douchey profile picture but I'm just guessing

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#16 Craig1981
April 05 2014, 09:05PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

admin removed my response

Why?

Maybe because when someone takes the time out of their day to give an interview, it's not polite to have someone on here constantly insulting them without merit.....not only is it rude, it's tougher for the interviewer to get others to talk too.

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#17 Baresnake
April 05 2014, 06:08PM
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My only complaint is that this interview wasn't longer! Nice job BM, thanks for doing this for us!

GENE FOR PRIME MINISTER!!!

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#18 Al Low
April 05 2014, 07:07PM
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Sportnet is amateur compared to TSN. As far as Rishaug goes, he really does seem like a jerk. Principe might not be the most talented media guy out there but he, at least, seems like a genuine guy who's himself when he's on the air. I don't find him that funny but I respect how he keeps it real.

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#20 Abby Oil
April 05 2014, 07:22PM
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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.

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#21 HardBoiledOil
April 05 2014, 05:58PM
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meh. it is what it is. i find the entire SN broadcast of Oiler games OK, but a little bland and predictable.

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#22 Casey
April 05 2014, 06:01PM
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I think the way Gene acts(childish,silly,humorous) makes people think he knows nothing about hockey but he knows alot. I go to school with one of his kids and used to do a program for reading to younger childs, I read to one of his kids too. I have met him on several different occasions

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#23 RexHolez
April 05 2014, 07:18PM
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I hope we don't lose gene to an NHL team

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#24 spliff
April 05 2014, 08:17PM
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I remember when I lived in Manitoba 25 years ago and Gene was just starting out, doing the sports segment for a TV station in Winnipeg.

One time when describing a Mario Lemieux break-away he said:

"Mario in alone, and like my first car, automatic!"

I always remembered that.

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#25 Casey
April 05 2014, 06:02PM
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Bringbackslats wrote:

I don't know bagged milk... I have enjoyed your contributions until today. The entire Rogers broadcast is a joke and Eugene's the jester and not at all in a good way. Somehow watching these clowns losing season after losing season only makes it worse. I actually get uncomfortable on behalf of players that have to answer his ill prepared and unthought out questions. His repetative use of famousgo to "how did that feel...?" Every interview he injects that at least once. Last night he asked Justin how it felt to get the first goal and then asked Doan in the 2nd intermission how it felt to tie the game...Really? That's the best interviewer they can get. The guy wouldn't know a legit piece of journalism if it straightened out his oil soaked curls. People blast Rishaug on this site but at least he knows something about hockey. It's unnerving to look forward to the Rogers broadcasts in the coming years. I sincerely hope the executives are serious about attaining a competent team that at least aims for the benchmark set by TSN. Until they do I'll watch the games with the volume off and listen to the radio.

Who the hell is Eugene?

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#26 Bringbackslats
April 05 2014, 06:10PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

I'm a huge Gene fan. He's out there making jokes when there's nothing really to be happy about. I love his positivity when times have been dark. He's a big goofball and it's different from what everyone else is doing and I admire that.

Now, as for Sportsnet - if you follow me on Twitter you'd know that there's no one more critical than me. I agree that TSN has set the bar very high and Sportsnet has truck loads of work to do to catch up.

And hey, it's my first interview for the Nation so maybe I'll ask questions of someone that you're into. I'm always open to suggestions.

I appreciate your thoughtful response and that you like the man but Ron Maclean is the only true pun master on hockey tv. Eugene is 3rd rate... Sorry to say.

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#27 RexHolex
April 05 2014, 08:01PM
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Completely off topic --

I wish I could make fun of the leafs for losing tonight, but I'm an oiler fan so I can't make fun of anybody?? Thanks oilers

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#29 Muji
April 05 2014, 06:30PM
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Great interview! One might say that Mr. Principe likes to wear blue JEANS. Ah ah ah.

...

I'm not good at puns :(

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#30 hagargt
April 05 2014, 11:12PM
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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.

I agree! However.. if you ever get kevin lowe as a guest, I will not accept censorship.

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#31 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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#32 Serious Gord
April 05 2014, 08:16PM
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I'm pretty sure mr. Principe is an earnest and nice guy. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a very knowledgable hockey guy.

However, I do not enjoy his bits. Nor his running gag (how many years now?) of punning at every opportunity. To each his own, obviously.

The big flaw in the SN broadcasts - both EDM and Cgy is the almost complete lack of In depth analysis and - more importantly - criticism of the hometown team. (As poor as the EDM SN crew is they are miles better than the CGY team)

While it is fair to say that the oiler-owned radio team are homers they at least are critical from time to time. Other than spects hits during the intermission we get nothing of the sort.

I long for mr principe to use his one on ones to go after the play of the player being interviewed.

That would take balls.

That would challenge the oilers management.

That would earn my respect.

And now that Rogers has the monopoly that would be something he could do with far less risk of repercussions.

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#33 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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#34 Rama Lama
April 05 2014, 06:29PM
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Gene is actually very good at what he tries to do.............as far as the king of puns, I would have to say Ron Mclean started this, not GP.

I like the way Gene tries to add levity to the Oilers situation this year. His style may not appeal to everyone, but at least he tries to make it interesting. I have heard him in interviews and he asks the typical questions ( as do the vast majority of journalists) and gets the typical answers.

I would like to see more odd ball questions like Cabbie does!

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#35 a lg dubl dubl
April 05 2014, 08:11PM
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Abby Oil wrote:

Since I mentioned John Garrett, I remember when he would do color for Bruce Buchanan on the old Oilers on ITV broadcasts years ago. Where did Bruce end up?? I think at one point he was doing some Flames Sportsnet stuff. I could be wrong.

Now theres a guy who I could listen to as I watch the Oilers game, I don't know who I miss more Rod Phillips or Bruce.

If Rodgers was smart they'd offer B.B a lucrative contract to call the Oiler games again.

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#36 hemi
April 05 2014, 08:18PM
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On a real positive note, the godless laffs lost. Thank you very much Jets, you guys made my night.

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#37 Danger Pay
April 05 2014, 09:54PM
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I wanna know if Gene Boos jean shorts?

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#38 hagargt
April 05 2014, 11:05PM
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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?

I kind of get it.. Gene makes me cringe with his puns, but I wish zero negativity on him as a person. It just doesn't feel right. To me anyways, to poke fun at the way someone's personality is, doesn't quite ring the same bell. If Gene was playing on the team, then fair game.

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#39 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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#40 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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#41 Reg Dunlop
April 05 2014, 11:01PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

Maybe because when someone takes the time out of their day to give an interview, it's not polite to have someone on here constantly insulting them without merit.....not only is it rude, it's tougher for the interviewer to get others to talk too.

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.

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#42 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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#43 admiralmark
April 05 2014, 08:19PM
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If you are someone that does not find puns funny its likely because your intelligence will not allow you to laugh at humour requiring so little intelligence to come up with. Thats why if you try and pull out a pun around friends you normally get a collective groan from the group as a response. Why people encourage Gene to keep on doing this is beyond my understanding. The only reason i can come up with that this is popular(is it really??) is because old people appreciate a good pun and I guess there's a lot of old people out there?

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#44 Bryzarro World
April 05 2014, 09:44PM
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I can't stand gene until I'm about 3 to 4 beer in...

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#47 Ssseth
April 05 2014, 10:50PM
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Brilliant. Geno will always be the Prince of Puns. I only wish I had more time to continue on the blog from back in the day. The fact he says his most memorable moment was the hot dog suit is awesome to me because that's what I was searching for the entire time and the reason I started it. The interview with Buchberger was the moment I became a Principe fan for life.

Everyone should calm down a bit. I know sports is serious but the Oilers are in the middle of one of the worst stretches of hockey in the history of the league. I will take a groan that turns into a laugh as a result of how "bad" it is any day as I for some reason continue to waste 3 hours watching this team 82+ times year...

For people that don't get it, that's okay. Each to their own. For me though, my grandpa has always been a really big inspiration and guiding light. He was the king of puns. He, like Gene knows exactly what he is delivering and how corny it is. That almost makes it better. The more I groan, the better it is.

Geno is one of ours and a part of the nation as far as I'm concerned.

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#48 hagargt
April 05 2014, 11:16PM
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And to be fair... if you dress yourself up as a hotdog, you are admitting to being a clown. Clowns don't think they are dressing like normal people, then get confused why they get the responses they do.

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#49 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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#50 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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