Thursday, January 15, 2009

Boring Hockey Players

Via Puck Daddy, where I get most of my news about the world, I read the indispensable Jeremy Roenick on how hockey players ought to conduct themselves in interviews and be as colorful and witty as he.

To put it mildly, JR is bored by the (after a win) "We played a good game. [Insert goalie nickname here] made some great saves and we kept our feet movin.' Hopefully we can keep it up"and (after a loss) "We played alright but we just couldn't finish. It's important to play all 60 minutes of the game and try hard" school of question-answering. For all the NHL players who I'm certain are reading, I think you'd be well-advised to consider JR's tips for making yourself more interesting:

“There are two ways players can be better interviews,” Roenick said. “No. 1: speak your mind. If you feel passionately about something, then grow a pair, grow a thick skin, and say so. Don’t be afraid that you’re going to say the wrong thing. If it comes from your heart, if you know that you’re right, step up and let people hear what you have to say.

“And No. 2: for christ’s sake – for christ’s sake – show some fucking enthusiasm during interviews,” Roenick said. “I see too many interviews where young guys say the same thing night after night after night. It’s bullshit."

“You know what, guys? Don’t just give us the usual clich├ęs. Don’t do interviews where your eyes are just staring off into space when they should be looking into the camera. Say something funny once in a while! And if somebody scores a sick goal, it’s OK to say ‘damn, my teammate scored a sick goal!’ ”

...

“I think and I hope guys like Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg will learn that there’s a way they can be brash and emotional when they’re away from the ice,” Roenick said. “It’s got to be for the right reasons, of course, but anybody who says there’s no place in our sport for honesty and personality is out of their minds.”

That last paragraph is most interesting and important, I think. It's one thing to be a cocky douchebag who can't cut off their own flow of stupid self-aggrandizement (something you see a lot of in other sports, and an ever-present danger for colorful hockey characters like JR), but there is a place for, as the Man says, "honesty and personality."

For some reason the more colorful hockey personalities are mostly coaches: Ron Wilson and Craig MacTavish would be examples.

Of course it can become excessive, but right now the NHL has an excess of vanilla stars who, for whatever reason, refuse to speak their minds or give interviews with even a modicum of liveliness. We need more JRs (a role that the Russian players are performing very well in their Russian-language Puck Daddy interviews, all of them, from Viktor Kozlov to Alexander Semin to Ilya Kovalchuk to Malkin and Ovechkin) and less Sidney Crosbys. More flair and frankness and theatricality, less "Uh, we played a good game but my knee really hurts I hope I won't miss too many games."

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