For decades, locker rooms have been a common area for players and media to gather after games and after practices. It’s an interesting dynamic, as credentialed men and women get to bombard athletes with positive or negative questions about the outcome of the game. It’s regulated by the club and the league, however it’s mostly a free-for-all and the millionaire players have to suck it up. Or else they get reprimanded and/or look terrible in the public eye.
That was pre-NHL pause.
With health concerns of groups larger than ten, it would be impossible to allow that process to continue. Heck, at this point in time there are too many players for one locker room. So, while there’s uncertainty among the media and players, we all understand things could drastically change.
I don’t think they should be… It’s just intrusive. I would co-sign the idea that we shouldn’t eliminate all access. -JJ Redick, NBA Forward
NBA sharpshooter JJ Redick on The Ringer podcast last week discussed the NBA freeze. The conversation transitioned to the relationship between players and the media, and how Redick would like more restrictions once play resumes.
Redick’s gripe sounds a bit NBA’ish. There are fewer players on a team, and more media covering basketball. Plus, the NBA allows media lockerroom access before game, which doesn’t exist in the NHL. However, there are elements to his complaints that every player in any league would agree with.
Camera guys are in the lockerroom during the media availability and they’re filming you while you are getting dressed… Why are you filming me when I’m putting my tights on? Why do you need to know how I tie my shoes? That feels a little weird too me. -Redick
I often wondered if Golden Knights players were overwhelmed or annoyed dealing with the media every day. Let’s face it, many of us couldn’t compose ourselves as well as they do after a bad loss. Over the past few years, I’ve asked players how they felt about their media responsibilities and came away with different responses.
Since all of these questions were off the record, I won’t reveal the players’ names but they all had a common theme. The bottom line, the Golden Knights know it’s part of their jobs, and they recognize it’s a way to connect with fans. One player said he enjoyed it and had fun chatting it up with the media. Another player told me he’s so used to it that it’s part of his routine. A third player explained, it wasn’t often he spoke in postgame scrums, so when he did it usually meant his contributions helped the team win.
As expected, their moods change after a loss. Most players don’t look forward to the media rush after dropping two points, but again, they understand their role. If an individual player missed an open shot, turned the puck over, or gave up the game-winning goal those players will likely answer the bell. One player hinted if they are good enough to make millions of dollars playing the sport, they can handle the heat after a loss.
A player that caused his team to lose would rather take the needling questions from the media then have his teammate do it for him. Also, certain players don’t want to be known only for answering questions after a win, and ducking out after a loss. It’s bad for their image, and some feel like they’re letting down the fans. Again, these are proud, honest NHL players we’re dealing with, not other professional athletes.
The overall feeling I got after a few casual conversations was that Vegas players want a genuine working relationship with the media. As long as it’s respectful, players don’t mind giving 5-8 minutes of their time after a win or loss. However the NHL decides to regulate the flow of media it will be completely foreign for both parties. One thing is for sure, the players will adjust quicker. Realistically, they are players and would rather focus on playing hockey. They won’t mind the change because there’s a good chance they get their locker room back and get to keep it for themselves.
It’s up to us at SinBin.vegas to work within the forthcoming new accessibility rules to bring information and content fans expect. If not, you all have full access to harass Ken and I. We can handle the heat.