It sure has been a while since I dusted off my gloves and took the media to task for its latest absurdity in the sports world. Sometimes, these venomous hit jobs are directed at The Network - an easy enough target, what with the willingness to sit on apparent evidence of child molestation at Syracuse, only to run the story without even giving the authorities the opportunity to vet that evidence and find that, in sum, it was demonstrably false. And sometimes, these hit jobs are directed at Buffalo sports media - also an easy target, what with the spelling errors, the apparent desire to merely yuk it up with a failing, entrenched hockey coach and the pathetic derision of a blogger community which has arguably provided better and more insightful sports analysis over the past couple years. (Not here at the Deeg, of course. We are more than happy to be the slime scraped out of the bottom of the barrel, presented as food for your more carnal cravings. It's what we do.)
One of the things I've noticed about Buffalo sports fans is that they can tend to believe that their town is getting jobbed at every opportunity. It's certainly no surprise, given the history, but it can leave people with a lingering sense that, in essence, whatever we get in Buffalo is a class below what everyone else gets in other cities. Sports teams? Inferior from top to bottom. Local theater and music? Undeveloped and of poor quality. Government? Corrupt and ineffective in a way unseen throughout America. Schools? Underfunded and forgotten. Cheerleaders? Sixes instead of tens. (This one may be right).
Some of this is true. In many ways, other cities do have it better. In a lot of ways, though, Buffalo has the exact same problems as other cities, but has convinced itself that the grass is greener in New York City, in Boston, in D.C., in Philly. I've found this to be especially true when it comes to how we digest our local sports media in Western New York. There always seems to be a lingering sense that Bucky and Harrington and Hamilton and Sully are on a lower tier than the guys who cover sports in the big markets. With the internet, though, we can verify that this is simply not true, and never was this more apparent to me than during the post-game presser following last Friday's Rangers-Devils Game 6.
Dear God, it was brutal.
So, in keeping with the overlap between "media hit piece" and "mailing it in," here is the transcript of the questions asked to Rangers coach John Tortorella following Game 6. My thoughts are in italics.
This first gem is from none other than Stan Fischler himself. The Hockey Maven. Stan is an unabashed homer who spent the entire playoffs tweeting about how great the Rangers are, which should probably preclude him from asking any questions in a televised presser. Especially the first question. Especially when it involves the phrase "valiant fight." COME THE FUCK ON. Valiant? The 1 seed getting taken to 7 games by 8 seed Ottawa, then by 7 seed Washington, then losing to the 6 seed in 6 games. Valiant? How about "unfulfilling" or "pathetic"? Sure, I'm a Sabres fan, so I can appreciate that this is the pot calling the kettle a shitty hockey team, but let's be real.
Q. Just looking at the Playoffs as a whole, do you feel you made it too hard on yourself, playing so many games and not being‑‑
I liked this question, especially after Fischler's, so I won't talk too much shit. That Torts "disagreed" with the media on this theme is unsurprising, though probably inaccurate. If I want to nitpick, this question does insanely disregard the good play that came out of the Sens, Caps and Devils, but since my first point made noise about how pathetic it is to lose to a 6 seed after being taken the distance by 7 and 8 seeds, my integrity demands that I simply give this reporter a gold star.
Q. Are there any words to describe what it feels like when it ends?
Yes, it feels like a deep pit of sorrow at the bottom of which you can find a shit sandwich sprinkled with the blood of an unnamed Swedish king. Asking Torts about his feelings is both hilarious and absurd. Not to mention it basically felt as though this reporter had just cried his eyes out in the bathroom, was looking for someone to bond with over 80s power ballads, and Torts just happened to be sitting right there.
Q. You got great hockey out of Fedotenko, Callahan. You didn’t get enough out of Richards or Gaborik.
Torts was dismissive here - again, an unanswered "question which is really an opinion statement from a sorry excuse for a human being aka Stan Fischler." In essence, it reads like: "Hey John, I'm going to summarize the series stat sheet briefly, and then I'm going to ask you to throw two of your best players under the bus. Actually, on second thought, I'm not even going to bother asking you anything. I'm just going to summarize those stats, then look at you longingly for affirmation. Please love me, John."
Last summer, Stan was advertising for an intern position on Twitter, and a big part of me wanted to apply, if only to see what kind of fucking operation the guy runs. He is, without a doubt, the stupidest hockey analyst I have ever encountered.
Q. This game seems similar to the last game where you fall behind by a couple of goals, tie the game, but you know how to be able to get the go‑ahead goal.
Hey John, did you notice that in this game, goals were scored, and in the last game goals were scored, and in both games the teams were wearing skates and had hockey sticks?? Isn't it weird?? ANALYSIS.
Q. You spend a whole season planning and preparing and plotting, and then it comes down to the scramble in front.
WHERE IS THE FUCKING QUESTION?? Seriously, these guys were just going through the motions of a cathartic mess of hopelessness and despair. Not one person in that room wasn't sad that the Rangers had lost. They couldn't even pretend to raise their voices at the end of the sentence to at least imply that a question was being asked.
Not to mention, a "scramble in front" is something you prepare for, since plenty of goals get scored that way, and is also something the every team benefits from at one time or another. Well, except the Sabres, because they suck at scrambling. And, well, all aspects of hockey.
Q. No way to prepare for that.
Great follow-up asshole. We already know that this guy was penning the "It wasn't the Rangers fault, they got hosed by a cruel twist of unforeseen fate" piece. I hope you die.
Q. The starts that you had all the way through, was it just a matter of never getting used to that, their energy level, their forecheck, right from the start, just those first periods?
Another quality question which I will not tear apart! You can live.
Q. Do you have a different opinion about this team now than you did at the end of the regular season?
COACH TORTORELLA: About what team?
Q. Your team.
COACH TORTORELLA: Do I have a different opinion?
Maybe Fischler had left the room by this point, since the questions actually started to pick up and become, well, actual questions. This one is, of course, another attempt to have the coach throw bombs at players. If he was being honest, Torts would have said that he liked the team a lot more when it was the 1 seed and a favorite to win the Cup rather than a team that had just gotten bounced by supposed dirt bags from across the Hudson. He also might have said that he liked the team more when he had a dominant goaltender, rather than the guy who let in 25% of the shots he faced in Game 5, or a Blue Chip Center who actually scored goals, rather than the guy who went scoreless in the series. Instead, Torts said something about liking the team's "jam" and "balls," which basically says it all.
Q. You talked the last couple of days about how important it is, not just in this series, but learning about your organization moving forward. What does a series like this and a run like this do you think do for this team moving forward for the young corps that you have?
Again, great question. I'm wondering whether I approached this exercise the wrong way. Is NYC sports media actually better than Buffalo's? Is this transcript even accurate? Was I just really drunk and angry on Friday night when I first gave it a listen? Fuck it. Moving on...
Q. What positives are you going to take‑‑ what positives do you take from this, particularly with the young guys, how they’ve come along for you?
Positives? They're pretty ok at hockey but are still colossal disappointments when considering the pedestal you all put them on as these playoffs continued, despite evidence that they were underperforming. Next!
Q. You’ve talked about what you hope your players may have learned. What have you learned from this experience in the Playoffs?
COACH TORTORELLA: Learned about our team?
Q. No, about yourself.
Bahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! This was the moment I expected Torts to jump out and slug someone. Why all the insistence on self-reflection from a guy who's post-game pressers usually last a minute at best? Though, again, if I'm answering for Torts - which CLEARLY I'm qualified to do - I'd say that he likely learned a lot about his affinity for strippers and whiskey. Or, at least he learned of that about 10 minutes after this presser was over.
Q. In talking about the young guys in the last couple of games, Callahan, seemed like he found his game. Has he found that kind of next level to be, or is this just what you expect of him at this point in his career?
Shut up about "young guys" who've been in the league for five years and who are entrenched leaders of this team. Come the fuck on. Callahan is the team fucking captain and these guys want to pretend he's just a spry young lad with something to prove? Fuck you.
Q. John, what went wrong on the winning goal, anything in particular?
Um, the guys in white let the guys in red put the puck in the net? I'm out!