Ripping players

November 21, 2006

Someone made a comment about jumping on past players, and I thought about and maybe this can give you a little bit of insight into my job.

Actually, it happens about an average of once a year and it’s something that I think a great deal about before and then twice as much after it happens. Not a fun part of the job by any means, but it is part of the job. It should be hard to rip someone, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. Just as praise is part of the job, so is criticism.

I tell younger reporters that when it doesn’t bother you, it’s time to get out of the business and go do something else. When you become so jaded, then you’ve lost a key part of yourself, something that makes you a good writer, a fair writer to the people you are writing about and to the people who are reading you.

When I do, I try to make sure to talk to the player before and after so they know where I’m coming from, and they can say their piece ASAP afterward. Even had one guy take a swing at me once, but we worked through it. Luckily, I was shaking so bad it was easy to fall back out of the way. LOL. We went to lunch and it was over. No, I won’t tell you who it was.

I think about it so much I can probably give you exact details each time it has happened over the years. And I think about it so much because I question myself constantly on if I was fair, was it the right thing, did I do enough to show their side?

I’m sure some folks at IPFW feel like I did it to them last week. You just have to be honest with yourself so you can be honest with your readers.

Two years ago in the playoffs I got on Goody, Chaulker and Dusty pretty good when the Komets were down 3-1 to Rockford. They were not too happy, obviously, but we talked about it. I really respected the way they handled it.

Like I said, it happens about once a year depending on circumstances. In 1994-95 and 1996-97 it happened about once a month. Abolutely hated those years, but another thing I tell younger reporters is that you find out how good you really are with really bad teams. If you can make them interesting, then you’ve got something because it takes twice as much work and creativity. Winning teams are easier to cover, obviously.

That’s why I can get a little annoyed when Hit teases me about being Superfan. That part got burned out of me a long time ago because you can’t maintain a high level when you only ride the emotions of wins. You have to have that level whether the teams wins by one or five goals or if it loses by one or five. That doesn’t mean I can’t recognize and read the emotions of others in those situations. I just have to be detached enough to be able to see everything accurately, and you can’t do that if you are riding the emotions like a fan.

All, right, enough garbage. Back to our regularly-scheduled program. Going to bed early tonight so have fun.

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35 Responses to “Ripping players”

  1. chuckitt Says:

    good article blake. i dont consider criticisim as ripping players. the one sad thing about pro athleats is that many of them have tremendous egos and think of themselves above the avg joes that either write about them or pay their money to see them play. thank goodness weve never had much of that problem here in the fort. you could probably tell us who fell into that category! when im negative towards a player, its my way of voicing my displeasure usually cause they didnt play at their ability level or if they do somethng really stupid! if they cant handle it then i really dont feel bad cause thats their problem not mine. your situation of course is different cause you have to work with them. i usually come up with one or two players each year that i would trade in a heartbeat. worthless slackers drawing a paycheck and not putting out the effort. this years team is the ist in a long time that i dont have anyone to hate! what a group of guys. the last time i saw this was in 73 and boy were they hot at the right times! as for the families, if they cant handle the criticism then its time for them to find a real job year round. the guys choose to be paid to play a game and must be able to handle negativity, cause im sure they would get it from the coach, and as they move up the ladder the press gets a little more hostile and my god, what if they played in new york?? as long as the guys families arent abused or have to put up with the loud mouth drunk in the stands, a little negativity never hurt anyone! thats whats cool about the blog, we can each give pluses and negatives and be ready to discuss and defend our positions. in the end we are all komet fans and we really care or we wouldnt go to the games, read the papers or blog. go komets .. cup in 07

  2. chuckitt Says:

    oh yeh, good article skate, dint know you could put more than two sentences together at one time!

  3. scoops Says:

    Doesn’t most of what Hit says sound over used? LOL

    All I can say is at least you recognize its the hard portion of the job and you at least think about what you are about to say or write. You actually have a journalistic responsibility and a face to go with your name. Those whom are on the receiving end of your column know where to find you. The rest of us who bother to post needless garbage can always find shelter behind the world wide web which is what irritates me.

  4. Tony E Says:

    I agree with the comments above.
    Big difference between being a critic and blasting a player. Maybe I have the wrong idea but when I think of blasting someone I think of taking a cheap shot or being nasty/overcritical just for the sake of trying to be negative or hurtful. Everything you described shows that you respect the players feelings as human beings and most important, you stand behind your comments and do not hide from the players.

  5. chuckitt Says:

    NONE OF US HIDE ON HERE CAUSE OUR EMAIL ADDRSS IS VISABALE PLUS UNLIKE YOU COWARDS I DONT USE A FAKE NAME!

  6. scoops Says:

    My real name was already taken but I figured using the “scoops” name is plenty sufficient.
    Using a real name and e-mail address or not isn’t the point Chuck. It’s using this place or any other like it to slander a person(s) with whom you would not confront in a face to face manner with your same grievances or ill will you have towards them. In short….doing a hit and run. If you or anyone else bothered to take the time to discuss with these very same people with whom you continue to dog on, are critical of, or just plain hate because they don’t play ‘ol style hockey…..you might see things from a different view and perhaps would be a little less judgemental.
    Perception, from your seat or anyone elses, is not always truth and reality.

  7. Skate Says:

    If any of you REALLY wants to know who chuckitt is and exactly where he sits I can tell you.

    Of course, that kind of information can’t be given out for free.

  8. Bud Says:

    Blake,how much of what goes on w/Komets,do you NOT report? Dont you have to pick and choose your stories? If you get too personnal will it come back to haunt you,by not getting interviews?
    A good example was the Danny Stewart story.
    I know that the stories that used come from the Fury basketball offices,were alot of bs.
    And I am correct that the reporters could not write what they wanted?
    I suppose if you want quotes and stories that you have to play their game. No offense meant here. Bud

  9. Greg Says:

    The thing I look at is that each of us have an idea of how the Komets should play and act on and off the ice. When those thoings aren’t happening we get dritcal, when they continue to go not the way we want we start slamming people. The problem is, although most of agree in general, it’s the fine points we seem to haggle over and it gets so bad that we rip each other here. It’s fine to want the Komets to play a certain way and it’s okay to voice an opinion, an opinion isn’t right or wrong (unless your Tony who knows everything;-)) but blasting someone becasue your upset just isn;t the answer.

  10. Heather Says:

    ding ding ding…round 2 LOL go for the KO scoops

  11. Tony E Says:

    Lol Greg has learned very well..
    Actually all I have are opinions of course if you want a second opinion on one of my opinions all you need to do is ask me again tommorow lol.

    I try and look at everything I type whether it be directed at one of you or about the Komets team and I ask myself that if anyone met me at my seat Friday night, would there be anything written here that I would not say face to face. Really the only Komet I have ripped on these boards was a short lived player and believe me I would have said what I said to his face even if it resulted in me getting pounded into the ground. I try to be respectful and remember that there are human beings reading this with families and perhaps other problems of life and there is nothing in the world of hockey that should cause me to lower the standards I have more myself when it comes to how I treat people.

  12. blake Says:

    Bud, I can see where the perception comes from, but that’s not something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. I try to tell the story that is there in front of me. As for Danny, The News-Sentinel did not report on it because our policy is we do not report on misdemeanors, and it’s as siimple as that.

    Part of being a journalist is being a gatekeeper because there isn’t enough time or newsprint or even blog space to write everything.

    I really don’t have to pick and choose that much, though. It’s like with injuries, my policy has always been there’s a difference between being hurt and injured. Injured means you can’t play and everything is fair game. Hurt means you are dinged but playing. The only way I write about that is if it dramatically affects your ability to perform in a make-or-break situation during the game. Like he wasn’t fast enough to catch up on the breakaway — like he normally would — because he’s playing with a strained hamstring. That type of thing.

    I’m old school in that I believe there’s a significant part of the players’ lives which is nobody’s d— business as well. These are not NHLers, they are making an average of $650 per week. Just because they have a public job doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed private lives.

    I don’t look at it as needing their quotes and stories, either, though I understand the perception. If they don’t want to talk, that’s their perogative. Maybe when I was younger I felt differently, but now I’ve been doing this long enough I can write with or without a player’s comments. I would certainly prefer to have them, but it’s not the end of the world. Believe me, I know there are times when the last thing they want is to talk to a reporter, and I give them the option not to talk unless they are the goaltender, captain or coach. I don’t do it every game, but for some games where I know what I want to say and why put them in a position of having to put a good light on things when there isn’t one.

    I’m fully capable of describing what I saw at that point. That’s one reason why I respect Jonathan so much. He’s not any of those, but he steps up and is available EVERY time after a loss with smart, reasoned answers. That’s another reason why I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rob Guinn, too, other than he’s a true professional who plays hurt all the time. I respect those two as people more than I do as hockey players, and they are outstanding hockey players. It got to the point last year where I had to promise them I would not come to them after the next loss, I’d go talk to someone else. LOL.

    Virtually all of the time, it’s about treating the players with respect and they treat you with respect. As an example, say somebody says something really stupid, I’ll ask them if that’s the way they want to see if phrased in the paper. Maybe then they pull back, but they have the option. I can do that because it’s a hockey game, not a city council meeting where I wouldn’t have that choice. There’s a difference.

    There have always been jerks in hockey, and I’ve met a million of them. I think the Frankes do a remarkably good job of weeding them out ASAP.

    One of the things Bud Gallmeier taught me was if a player gets ticked off to listen because you might learn something that you missed. If the player stays mad, well who the h— is he! You were there a long time before that player ever got to FW, and you’ll be there a long time after that player is gone, too. Of course, Bud was a lot more blunt than that. What a teacher! Still have about a million questions I’d like to ask him.

    Hope that helps explain some of it, Bud.

  13. Heather Says:

    You know the point keeps getting brought up about would you say these things to their faces and I have to say that last year there was a couple players I would talk to and tell them what they were doing wrong so to speak. One player would pass it too much and I called him out on it and he said “yeah I know I need to just shoot it, I’m trying to work on it” that was it he took it very well and to this day even though he’s playing somewhere else I still tease him and ask him if he’s still passing it all the time. Another player I told he ices it too much lol and he said yeah I get grilled a lot about that and was laughing. So long story short yes I would tell them to their face. I think you are an amazing player when you can see what you are doing wrong and not think that you are perfect in every aspect. Take the good with the bad I guess. And now I leave it open for scoops to comment LOL

  14. blake Says:

    Funniest quote I ever got from Colin was “Even my mother tells me to shoot more and she doesn’t even watch the games.”

  15. chuckitt Says:

    skate and i wouldnt be afraid to say anything to any players face, simple as that. of course criticisim has to be constructive and not hateful. i only got hate ful last year because of a guy i couldnt stand and if he was a teamate im sure practices would have been interesting, but then again, the guy was really a nice guy except he forgot more things than well ever remember

  16. Heather Says:

    Is saying we don’t want them to take the cheap shots and we want them to hit harder hateful? Its just our opinion. Like anybody really cares what we think anyway so let us just vent. Isn’t this kind of what this blog is about? Am I wrong in thinking that?

  17. Heather Says:

    well after that last sentence chuckitt we all know who you are talking about LOL

  18. Bud Says:

    Thanks Blake,
    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  19. JR Says:

    I love the “holier than thou” bloggers who think that because someone makes a comment on a blog that they wouldnt make the same comment in person… Sounds like arrogant presumption to me.

    And what are these players gonna do when they get into the real world on a full time basis and have to face criticism from customers, co-workers, or management???

  20. scoops Says:

    For one, I doubt Nancy the secretary would run to the local blog and type out a BS post that JR was slacking off at work. What Nancy doesn’t know is that JR was up till 4am taking care of their 4 month old who had been puking and crying all night. Mrs. JR had to deal with this throughout the day and JR was giving her a break and letting her get some sleep.
    Putting out his best performance at work that day was secondary to being a father of the family.

    Now there is a point to what was just said beneath the surface but I doubt few will find it.

  21. JR Says:

    I guess what scoops fails to realize is that there may not be a blog for real life workplace; but there is still that “rumor mill” or the famous “water cooler” discusions. And I’m sure most everyone has either been a victim or a participant in these talks where much worse is usually said than what is put on these blogs… Most everyone only has about a 1/4 of the information; but they still form their opinions on it. For this blog, its games and thats all that most of us have the time to base our opinions on. If we say that this guy IMO is playing out of position, then thats all it is; but some want to make it out as a character assasination, which its not. So I guess that holier than thou can keep “reading” between the lines on peoples posts and tell everyone how wrong their opinions are because, basically, their not his….

  22. Komet Fan Says:

    Thanks for the insight Blake. There are alot of things that are important as to why certain things happen the way they do and most Komet fans are unaware of the resons why because they don’t get “reported”. Sometimes it might be the reason why a player is released or not brought back the following year. Sometimes it might be why a player is playing like a “shadow” of his regular self and nobody can understand why. And no, I am not only talking about being hurt or injuries or personal stuff.

    These kinds of things being that you do talk to the players, is what most fans want to hear about. Most of the time, we get sugar – coated quotes and the like from the newspapers. One thing I will say about Steve Martinson is that he will “let it rip” when it comes to his thoughts on why things happened the way they did. I know there are certain things that you have access to that you can’t print, but “insider” info is always fun to read.

    For those of us that have access to players or what they might be thinking, it is cool to know how they might feel about a coach, different players, etc…..

  23. scoops Says:

    I’ll buy that anology JR. I don’t think the scope is as big in an office setting but still I can see the parallel.

    I don’t like to bring up last season but since its trinkled into this season….Pulhulski, Guinn, and Jorde had things said that went above and beyond just critiques of their play.

    The only thing that draws my ire this season is the amount of negativity surrounding the 10 wins compared to the games we have lost. Too much being laid on the doorstep of being “entertained” so far. You play to win the game and you will accomplish this by any means necessary. Sometimes you get dirty, sometimes you do not.
    The people who rely on me to do my job don’t care if I did cartwheels before I gave them my analysis. They just want in hand what they need.

  24. blake Says:

    Of course, Komet fan, there’s also the side of it where the player may say something to you that he would never dare say to me when he knows it would get in the paper. There’s no way I can do anything about that. I can’t force them to say anything, after all.

    All I can do is not try to please fans, players, owners or anyone else, only myself. If I know I gave an honest effort and did my best, that’s all I can control.

    I would also tell you that sometimes players use fans as they try to use reporters to get their viewpoint across or stir things up. I’ve sat in the locker room many times, none this year as of yet, and listened to players laugh about how they’ve started a fire by telling fans something and then seeing it show up on blogs or message boards as well. They thought that was the funniest thing, and I thought it was simply cowardice. Yes, believe it or not, sometimes players try to play the fans and take advantage of them.

    It happens more than you would ever dare think, and the reason it works is because that way, just like on a blog, it’s all anonymous and there’s no accountability. When they tell me something, they know they will have to stand up for it. One time I had a player accuse me of misquoting him until I played the tape for him, the captain and the coach. Oops.

    So far coach Bingham hasn’t been too shy about saying what he thinks. LOL. From everything I’ve heard, that ride home from Rockford wasn’t too much fun a week ago.

    Anyway, all that kind of stuff gets mixed into my job now where 10 years ago all I had to worry about was talking to the players after a game. Now it seems I’m responsible for what the players and coaches are REALLY thinking because there are so many more outlets and EVERYTHING gets disected by conspiracy theorists or those who believe they know the real inside story even if there isn’t one.

    I can’t win, so I just do my best, work as hard as I can to be as complete as I can and then go have a beer. Which is where I’m off to now.

    Everybody have a safe Thanksgiving.

  25. JR Says:

    I guess it all depends on the size of your workplace or even the industry that you are in… If the information highway traveled as fast as rumors we would have the info we needed about 1 hour before we even realized we needed it…lol.

    Everyone looks for something different when it comes to their entertainment. No two people “see” the game the same way, I mean just stand in the hallway and listen to people talk about the game as they walk out. I have stated before that I like this team and like chukitt said, I cant really say that I dislike any of the players unlike in years past. I have stated that I believe that Kiyaga is playing out of position and would maybe like to see him utilize his speed at a forward position. I also came out and said that he really impressed me with his play this past weekend. I guess what I am trying to say is that I believe there has been more positive feedback about this team than negative and that just because someone looks for something a lil different from their entertainment doesnt mean that its wrong. Its their view and theirs alone and lamb basting them for it or reading too much into it is unfair…

  26. Tony E Says:

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone. If all goes well you will be able to take target practice at me Friday night.

  27. Burgee Says:

    I think Blake does a really good job and is a very fair person/professional.

    I as a fan would never talk bad about my team, loyalty is a big issue with me, call me old fashioned. I get upset when we don’t win but i can rest assured the coach and owners take care of the issues that need taken care of.

    Everyone have a safe and happy thanksgiving, i’ll be the one they wheel to his seat on a dolly cause i’m eatin mama’s cookin!

  28. chuckitt Says:

    when jr was slacking off at work cause of problems at home, did he take a discounted pay check ? as am employer i pay for work done and if there are outside problems then i need to know about it and arrangements can be made, but generally, what happens at home needs to stay at home just like work needs to stay at work. its the same in the sports world, where its usually what have you done for me lately, because it is a business. if it wasnt true, then why doesnt national league manager of the year joe girardi have a job? ten wins or 15 wins, if something doesnt look right ill comment. i dont overly praise either, cause they are being paid to do a job. at work i always thank my employees at the end of each of their shifts when they do what is expected of them, cause i appreciate their efforts, thats makes it easier to discuss with them when they dont! thats what this blog is about, discussion of the good the bad and sorry skate, the ugly!! happy thanksgiving everybody!! go komets!!!!

  29. Colin Says:

    Ryan Jorde said he was feared by everyone.

    Rob Guinn forgot about fighting.

    And Greg Puhulski became the cardboard cutout.

    No One made them do any of these things.

    It is not to be taken so seriously.

    Get over yourself all ready. Stop bashing everyone on here. Do you have your own opinions about the topics? Leave JR and the rest of the guys and gals on here alone. When did you become the no fun police anyway?

  30. Greg Says:

    That being said,

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope to see you at the game.

  31. scoops Says:

    This is all kind of like the glass half-full, half-empty thing. One one hand, one group of people would take the full glass but are grateful for what they have. The others constantly complain on why their glass is half empty. A half empty glass is not good enough. There is no sense anymore of one group trying to convince the other that both are good.
    Anyway…hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and I really hope we pack the house tonight and get behind this team. As for the home games…we have alot to be thanksful for thus far. As a Thanksgiving gift to you….I am going to set this site up as a read only. So if you run out of things to be thankful for….be thankful for that. LOL

  32. JungleMonkey Says:

    I’m already thankful, Poops..

  33. Heather Says:

    Say it isn’t so LOL

  34. Colin Says:

    I just puked up the giblets all over myself. Someone pull the plug on this guy before he ruins this site for good. He must type that crap to entertain himself. Because the rest of us are bored.

  35. JR Says:

    Gotta work so you guys will have to fill me in on the details for 2nites game… I’ll be listening; but its always good to get feed back on the game…


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