Thursday, January 28, 2010

A personal beef

I was pretty amused with the little show Carey Price and Andrei Markov put on for reporters at practice in Brossard today, giving each other a big hug and smiling to make light of yesterday's big firestorm over their little argument last week.

Although Brian Gionta chose to deny that the argument took place, it appeared to me that it was generally acknowledged that some words were exchanged between the two. Whether or not the entire team took sides in the argument, as was reported, is an entirely different matter.

I'm not going to on and on about the incident or what was said about it, particularly Markov's view that reporters should be trying to help the team out because they're going through a rough patch. He knows very well it doesn't work like that, and the team gets all the support it needs when things are going well. Why? Because it's a reflection of their play. The media will be critical when you play poorly. It's obvious, I know, but I feel it needs mentioning because a lot of people tend to think the media is all negative all the time. That's simply not true.

But my beef with what happened in Brossard today has nothing to so with what Markov said, or that Josh Gorges is concerned that news like that is being leaked out of the room, or Max Lapierre comparing it to a fight between brothers that is settled at the dinner table.

No, it has to do with the fact that Carey Price wasn't around to talk about it. He's been in this city long enough to know that this would be what all the media would be talking about, and it would have spared his teammates from having to do it on his behalf if he'd simply come out and spent five or 10 minutes answering questions about it.

Listen, I'm not going to begin thinking that the average fan really cares about the players' and the organization's media policies, because I could write a dissertation on the topic but I won't because I don't think it's of interest.

But what might be of interest is my beef with Price, because it might be symptomatic of a more global mishandling of a young talent.

Price's media exposure has probably been the most micro-managed PR initiative I have ever seen in nearly 10 years of covering the team. His age and the position he plays made it so. I remember once during his first playoffs he was answering questions following a loss, and after four or five a Habs PR person stepped in and said, "OK kid, you're done."

That never happens. As it turns out, there were tons of reporters that didn't get a chance to talk to him that day. A similar veil of media protection has surrounded Price ever since. He rarely talks to reporters at home after a loss any more, which is a standard requirement of any starting goalie in the league.

Today was another example of where both Price and the team's PR knew very well this would be a story, and it would have been good of Price to come out and face the music, especially after orchestrating that hug with Markov following practice. Instead, it was his teammates that had to entertain the media on Price's behalf, answering questions about him. I can tell you from experience that players find that incredibly annoying, especially when that player could just as easily come out and answer the questions himself.

I'll admit that I can't say for sure whether Price's lack of availability these days comes from Price himself or from the PR staff of the team. But either way, I'm wondering whether or not this might be another symptom of the supposed sense of entitlement a lot of people seem to think Price has. If he's permitted to blow off media responsibilities while pretty much every other player has to do it, what else is Price allowed to get away with? Is this another example of the organization coddling him?

I'm just asking the question, while fully admitting that I don't know the answer. But to me, that answer should be of interest to the typical fan, even if media access to a certain player isn't.

Having said that, how many of you can honestly say you wouldn't have liked to have heard Price's opinion on the incident today?

18 comments:

Kevin aka "yathehabsrule" said...

I thought it odd to start that Price was unavailable after the St. Louis game, especially after his run-in with Janssen.

I also read that according to CKAC's Ron Fournier, Price broke a mirror, with his stick, after that game. No other reports verify that.

He was also not available, or had little to say, after the Ottawa loss prior to that.

A number one goalie has to be out htere for the media, win or lose, in my opinion.

Michael said...

I think the safest assumption is that the team isn't letting the media have access to Price. The only other possibility is that they give him the option to talk to the media.

I cannot see how Price would have the power to skip out on being interviewed night in and night out.

I am also sure he has a few losses in there were he played really well and wouldn't mind being questioned.

However, only the Habs brass and Price know what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you said: "I'm not going to go on and on about the incident and what was said about it..."

The whole article was about that!

Price = diva.

Cheers,
A new follower

ERL said...

Forgive me, Arpon, but I'm getting tired of the media's sense of entitlement when it comes to players' availability. In my opinion, it's perfectly fine for a player to take a night off from time to time, or to not feel obliged to answer questions after EVERY single practice.

Yes, these putzes make ridiculous amounts of money. Yes, the league requires them to give of their time. Yes, it's mostly good for business, and mostly harmless.

But just because there are 30 similarly putzy reporters in the locker room doesn't mean the players have to answer each every one of their questions.

The 24-hour news cycle is hardly Price's burden to bear.

r.

Andrew Berkshire said...

Correct me if I'm wrong Arpon, but wasn't Price available to the media after the loss in Tampa? Sounds like complaining about nothing to me, and I have to agree with ERL that this complaint or "beef" sounds more like media entitlement than the entitlement of a young goalie.

Maybe if the guys hadn't asked Markov the same question 20 times this morning until he basically told them to go away I'd feel more for you, but the story was all media generated anyway. I'd much rather hear what Tony Marinaro has to say now that many players have called BS on the story.

muscular sufi said...

The thing is that Halak /does/ answer questions - win or lose, and Price, "The Franchise Saviour", doesn't. As a fan, I was very interested in what he would have said after the Blue Jackets game, and I was interested in what he would have to say about the media kerfuffle. But if it would have been detrimental to the organization to have him speak, maybe it was better that he didn't. It also shows that Price isn't captain material (not that anyone was thinking that he was), and Markov taking the brunt showed that he /is/ captain material.

lr said...

the media loves to trash talk - improves their ratings - sells papers! Makes me ill actually.

I don't care about the spats in the locker room. None of our business.

Just want the team to win some damn games!!!!!

....and I don't blame Price for staying away from the media!!!

Lyse said...

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

Whatever Carey Price will say, or do or not he'll get criticized.

I blame the organization for some of it all. But the media go too far sometimes.

jkr said...

Time for the media guys like Fournier & Marinaro to actually verify stories before reporting hearsay as fact. And you wonder why players don't trust you as a group?

Leila said...

Arpon,

Wednesday was another one of those days where I was embarrassed to be a Habs fan. I cringed when I heard Marinaro and dreaded the fallout from the report. I felt sick about the reporting standards of some people who call themselves 'journalists'. JT addresses this issue perfectly in 'The Media Issue' in a post at http://habsloyalist.blogspot.com/

There are times where I wonder why these players actually put up with this from the local media. Was it a lot of fun watching Markov struggling with the questions? Did you all get the answers you wanted to fill some more pages? Were you expecting him to say 'yes, I chewed out Carey'? Markov, when he stated reporters should be trying to help the team, was asking for fair reporting practices.

In answer to your question, I can honestly say I'm glad Carey didn't speak to the media. There is nothing to say! It's not fair to him nor to the fans to make him answer inane questions about what his colleagues allegedly said or did not say. Quite frankly the media has pitted him unfairly against too many things already. Enough is enough.

If the team is trying to mold a young goalie into becoming a better player some of the media sure seems hard at work trying to tear him down. It's not his fault that he's getting starts ahead of Halak, it's not his fault that he's too young for this pressure and environment and it sure isn't his fault that Montreal hasn't won the Cup since he's been here. He's learning, on the job, in one of the toughest working environments that I know of.

You can slag the Habs PR department all you want but protecting and siding with reports like this isn't going to make the team loosen up anytime soon. I wish there were more repercussions against this type of reporting.

For the record, I think Carey gave the most honest, original response to the media yesterday. Bless him for still having a sense of humour.

Andy J Smith illustration said...

Aren't kids today entitled to their sense of entitlement?

V said...

Arpon, I tend to support those that feel players should be excused for bowing out of some/many media commitments. I did not need to hear anything from Price on any of the alleged Price/Markov nonsense - what happens in the dressing room should stay there for the sake of the team.

Now if we are talking about Parliment, I think the media needs very strong access and I applaud transparency. But this is sports and 90% of it is soap opera fodder. No life is lost if we don't get the latest opinion from a player. Might give them more time and focus to concentrate on the real task at hand.

Arpon Basu said...

I'm glad to hear your opinions on the matter, because often times we in the media make assumptions about what fans actually want and how they want their team to be covered. Honestly, I value the feedback.

But I also think that media access is a strong link between the fans and the players. Even though the media itself often steps in between that link by twisting words and making a story out of nothing. That, unfortunately, is the nature of the beast. I think because the Habs are so saturated with constant media coverage, that the importance of media access is often lost on the fan base. It's kind of a "You don't know what you've got until it's gone" kind of thing. And trust me, the day is coming where player access for the media will be far more limited as teams begin to take control of the news through their own websites. Maybe fans will prefer it that way, maybe not, but it won't be an objective account of the game. That's for sure.

And just to clarify, if Price had simply taken a "day off" from the media yesterday, there's no way I would have written what I wrote. That would have been understandable. I'm just saying this is something that has been going on with Price for a few years, and no other "star" or important player gets the same treatment. That, to me, is the problem, that there are different rules for Price as there are for everyone else. It has nothing to do with media entitlement, but rather a question of whether or not a certain player deserves preferential treatment.

V said...

Thanks Arpon.

I guess another reason some of us are supportive of less coverage is the perceived over-saturation around the team.

Media access is important - but that's not what we are talking about with the Habs. The Habs are blanketed and we all could benefit with a lot less access.

None of us really need 3/4 of the information provided - sure, it's a guilty pleasure to dive into these sites, but my God, what else could we all be doing with this time... some people would do well spending less time discussing the problems with Markov and Price and more time working on the problems in their families, marriages, work-places and communities. Which I am going to do right now... see ya

LeMatheux said...

I've just read Rejean Tremblay's latest bit of tripe, in which he unwittingly displays his ignorance. He criticizes Price's technique by saying how excellent goaltenders, like Martin Brodeur, don't stick exclusively to the butterfly and have a more hybrid style. Ignoring for a moment the number of excellent goaltenders who practice the pure butterfly, how can he not be aware that Price is, well, a hybrid goalie? Certainly more so than his beloved Halak?

I'm sure if you asked him, Tremblay'd say Price is having a really crappy season. Nevermind that going solely by save percentage, he would be tied with Cam Ward on Team Canada as the third goalie. But that's how most of those pundits write about the Habs. They don't actually follow the team. They have a point to make, and then they adjust the facts to fit it, rather than the opposite.

Articles like this make me understand why the Habs might want to spare Price from the media. A lot of its member have been outright dishonest about him I don't mean you, Arpon, and I actually suspect most of them aren't actually beat reporters. But the reality is, there is a media attitude towards Price, and it could color the type of questions he gets asked and how the answers are interpreted. If he says nothing, they can't twist it to show his "bad attitude".

People read this stuff. And it shapes their view of Price. And it leads to brainlessly booing the kid, which doesn't help him.

The Habs' job is not to make journalists' jobs easier, anymore than the journalists are there to help the Habs. They need to handle Price in such a way that he develops into that franchise goalie. And right now, on that subject, the media are the enemy.

subdoxastic said...

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sudoxastic said...

It would seem that a much longer post by me has disappeared into the ether. Here's the short list.

If the media willingly makes Price a star (by devoting time and attention to him) then can they complain about him receiving special treatment in other ways?

No player (Markov, Halak, Price, etc.) should feel compelled to speak with the Press, although it's understandable that some might be more okay with it than others (Halak vs. Price).

Finally, Price did communicate with the media regarding the Marinaro story. He waited for a moment on the ice when everybody was looking and hugged Markov whilst staring at the pressbox. When the Press says he's not available to answer questions, what they really mean is, "Price refused to let us gang up on him and dictate the tone, message and direction of a conversation that we manufactured in the first place. We're really upset that we couldn't get him on tape, in print accepting the premise of the original question!"

I love some journalists and I love some bloggers. I count this site a favourite to visit, exactly because of its balanced and objective presentation of the situation surrounding the Habs. I do not find, however, this to be true in all cases, probably not even the majority of cases.

The day a reporter following the Habs is actually taken to task for the mistakes they make... no better yet-- the day all the reporters following the team are placed in a room and the players (who probably would still be outnumbered) get a chance to ask them some questions regarding sources, fact checking, or even the always agreeable, "Could you elaborate on that? What did you mean to say?" is the day that I'll start worrying about keeping score as far as entitlement goes.

Anonymous said...

You're upset that Price isn't whoring himself to the media? That's such a shallow excuse to diss a guy.

The problem is, you guys want to be able to cover every single friggin' minute detail about him, right down to when he takes a leak.

Take a look around the league and see how any other media representative are as invasive as your guys are about Price. Then you'll see that the Problem isn't him, it's you.