Media set to return to NHL locker rooms for first time since March 2020 |


2022-09-20 22:48:51

Trevor Zegras had no thought issues have been accomplished every other means.

The slick, camera-friendly centre with a toolbox stuffed with on-ice tips made his NHL debut for the Anaheim Geese in February 2021 because the NHL navigated life alongside COVID-19.

That shortened season noticed all interviews and media availabilities carried out by way of video convention calls – a part of a protracted listing of protocols aimed toward retaining the virus at bay and gamers wholesome.

The NHL largely moved to press conferences for the 2021-22 marketing campaign, however locker rooms that had been open to reporters earlier than the March 2020 pandemic shutdown remained closed.

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Now with the league set to embark on what’s hoped might be a traditional season with out interruption, reporters and tv digital camera operators, recorders and notepads are anticipated to be again ready by gamers’ stalls on the conclusion of practices and video games.

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The best way it was once – and the format transferring ahead – was information to Zegras.

“I didn’t even know that was a factor, if I’m being utterly sincere,” the outgoing 21-year-old stated with a smile. “I simply figured you go into that different (press convention room).

“That’ll be a pleasant wrinkle.”

Various of the sport’s stars shared their ideas on locker rooms reopening to reporters ultimately week’s NHL/NHLPA participant media tour simply outdoors Las Vegas.

Some have been excited on the shift again to the previous guidelines.

“It’s nice,” Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele stated. “I’m an enormous face-to-face man.”

“You look again up to now within the NHL,” New York Islanders counterpart Mathew Barzal added. “Guys doing interviews driving the train bike, having the gang within the locker room at their stall.

“Simply appears very private and a bit of extra of an in-depth look.”

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Others, in the meantime, have been much less enthused.

“I didn’t thoughts these press convention rooms,” stated Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk.

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“I gained’t have the ability to goof round as a lot within the room,” joked Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger, who like Zegras has by no means skilled reporters at his stall.

“You guys would possibly get hit by some tape balls.”

League guidelines stipulate locker rooms have to be opened to the media members 5 minutes after the primary participant exits the ice on the conclusion of observe. There’s an identical immediacy after video games.

“Nothing in our (COVID-19) protocol (prohibits) media from the locker room,” NHL deputy commissioner Invoice Daly stated of the upcoming season. “We anticipate going again to what our guidelines have been previous to the pandemic.”

The NFL and Main League Baseball welcomed reporters again into locker rooms this yr. The NBA’s media coverage for 2022-23 has but to be launched, however a league spokesman informed The Canadian Press in an e-mail, “It’s secure to say locker rooms will once more be part of media entry.”

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Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews, the primary participant to achieve 60 targets in a decade final season, deadpanned about what’s typically a crowded Toronto locker room.

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“Adore it once I’m untying my skates,” he stated, “and the digital camera guys are combating for positioning.

“It’s the perfect.”

Chicago Blackhawks winger Max Domi, who spent two seasons with the Montreal Canadiens in an equally intense media market, is keen to have reporters again.

“It’s so significantly better,” he stated. “I’m positive, no offence, lots of (gamers) most likely wouldn’t agree with that. When you’re going to have an interview you would possibly as effectively have the ability to go face-to-face with somebody. You will have a special connection.

“You change into very pleasant since you’re within the room after practices and video games each day.”

He added the conversations off to the facet and away from the lights are the place journalists most likely get their juiciest materials.

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“That’s the perfect time to speak to a hockey participant,” he stated. “When there’s no cameras.”

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However like Matthews, Domi has had some points.

“These (digital camera) guys are savage as a result of they don’t care,” he stated with a smile. “They simply sit (in entrance of your locker).

“I’m like, ‘Are you gonna transfer, bro?’”

Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk stated there might be an adjustment interval after greater than 30 months of player-reporter separation.

“Proper after you get off the ice there’s going to be folks round your stall,” he stated. “It’ll be completely different, nevertheless it’ll be good to get these relationships again.

“At instances you miss your relationships, however when issues aren’t going effectively, you’re glad it’s not in your face.”

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Calgary Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau, who was acquired from the Panthers within the Matthew Tkachuk commerce this summer season, arrives in a Canadian market simply in time to have locker-room doorways swing open after a decade in Florida.

“I by no means had that in my life,” he stated. “It’s going to be one other expertise.”

Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly stated having reporters up shut is a chance to precise views on the game’s most vital matters in a back-and-forth setting.

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It’s additionally one of many ultimate items to the NHL’s post-pandemic puzzle.

“It’s cool in Toronto … in case you’re a educated man concerning the sport, you get an opportunity to present your opinion on issues,” he stated. “It’s a very good signal that issues are returning. I hate the cliche of ‘again to regular’ and all this different stuff.

“But it surely’s the reality.”

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