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.”



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    These imaginary lines don’t mean much to me. I’m not in that hockey-world goldfish bowl, so I don’t really care about what the reporter did.

    But man, Joe’s greasy…I shuddered reading that quote.

  • Spurzey

    Botchford is employed by the Province. The Province is a ‘media’ outlet both in paper and on line. They hand him a pay check every 2 weeks to do his job that they hired him for. They got him media passes so he can go into the teams dressing rooms and act as a a liason between the public and the players. He can go where us fans can’t. That’s what the Province pays him for. The act of media walking into the players dressing rooms after/before a game to get info for their stories is as old as hockey itself. This is not news. It should not be news to you, I, or the players.

    So how did this become Botchfords or >> fault? He walked where he’s walked thousands of times into a room where ‘said’ players were expecting his arrival. He got quotes that were available to 20+ reporters, none of them were off the record or told in secrecy. He took what worked for his story – and he wrote it. He didn’t make it up. He didn’t plagiarize. Nothing he did was illegal. In fact, he was —– get this people —— suspense—— suspense —— DOING HIS JOB. OH My! Someone call 911.

    Is Botchford supposed to be a mindreader?

    Don’t you love being in a relationship where the girlfriend or boyfriend – out of know where seemingly- starts giving you the silent treatment. You ask “what’s wrong?” only to have them scowl at you and say nothing. Giving you the “you should know look”. Yes, well paralell the situation. Was Botchford supposed to know a quote that wasn’t ‘off the record’ was off limits? Should he have displayed superhuman powers for our purpose?

    People are making farrrr to big of a deal about this. “Should he have asked Thorton if it was off the record?” – why? Should I ask the guy who’s handing me a paycheck after I’ve worked all week for him “you sure you really want to give me this. You can keep it if you want”. I know I worked for this guy all week, he knew he had to pay me for working for him. Thorton knew there were multiple reporters in the room. He cut off a reporter by yelling obscenities at him – and they reported what he said. end of story.

    Did the other reporters write anything about this quote? No. But they were scooped by Botchford. Were they gonna write it after the fact ……. the storys already been broken by another reporter. That’s journalism 101.

    Cal down people. Some people actually do their job for a living. And as fans, we should be grateful that those ‘liaisons’ are actually doing their jobs otherwise we’d never know anything about the hockey players we love watching play.

  • bwar

    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.

  • Spurzey

    When Botch gets railroaded out of all the nhl rooms, I would like to invite him into our oldtime beer league room after one of our games to get about 50 quotes per nite that would be on the record! Feels like time to go and “score 4”

  • Spurzey

    Articles like this have the best intentions, but just invite the rapey comments like the two above.

    Although not overtly rapey, their whole premise is to say something nasty other people don’t want to hear.

    The grossness of The Nation.

    • Spurzey

      I don’t think bwar’s comments are rapey. It’s just evident that he likes thinking about cocks and stroking cocks. Maybe he’s gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with a man being gay or thinking about cocks and cocks being stroked by their owners hands.

  • Spurzey

    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.

    • Craig1981

      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.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    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.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    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.

  • vetinari

    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.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    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.

  • vetinari

    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.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    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,

  • Cale

    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.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    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.

  • Cale

    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…