Detroit Red Wings’ High School Journalist Day
Earlier today, the Detroit Red Wings held the first High School Journalist Day in five years at Joe Louis Arena. Around 50 schools were selected and one student (along with their chaperone) represented their school. The students gathered in Olympia Club around 11am where they received a packet of the articles that were released today in newspapers (ie. from the Detroit News or Detroit Free Press), biographies of the players and coaches that would be at the mock press conference, a press badge, and a schedule for the day.
After everyone was registered, Anne Marie Krappmann (Community Relations Manager) and Lori Shiels (Assistant Director of Marketing) introduced themselves and explained what was going to go on during the day. They offered some time for questions from the students and my favorite response was from Anne Marie when she was asked about how much she makes and how much she enjoys her job. “I mean at the end of the week when you cash your paycheck, I don’t look at that as much as I do what I’m getting from this job. I have the opportunity every single day to help somebody and there isn’t that many people that can get up every morning and say that. I’ve had so many people that I’ve met through this job, whether it be a sick child that wanted to meet Brendan Shannahan. You see a smile on that kid’s face and you just can’t put a price tag on that. You do the job because you love it, not necessarily because of the pay,” Krappmann said. Lori Shiels favorite aspect of the job is that “I walk into my workplace and there are 20,000 people cheering. And even though they aren’t cheering for me, it is just a great atmosphere to be in.”
A typical game day for Anne Marie is as follows: from 9-10:30am she gets clips, stats, and notes together for the media. They come around 10:30 and ‘chill’ in the Olympia Club where some members of the PR have to be there to help the media and players with interviews and such. The afternoon dies down because on game day, the players typically take a nap from 2-4pm. During the game, one can find her in the press box and in the locker room with the media upon the completion of the game. Another interesting tidbit is that after March 15th, no player can make a public appearance because the team wants them to focus on preparing for playoffs and not to be distracted by signings or charity appearances. The team still donates and contributes to charity organizations; it is just that no player makes an appearance at a fundraiser or anything until the season is over.
30 minutes into the press conference, Barry Smith appeared and we had an opportunity to ask him some questions for about 20 minutes. He touched on everything from how the team can improve by playoff time to the Todd Bertuzzi issue to injuries and staying healthy to practices. He really stressed that they needed to get Derian Hatcher adjusted to the team since he has played a limited amount of games with his injury and adjust to the team chemistry. A challenging part will be to figure out who he works best with on a line. Smith was hoping to spend these next 13 games figuring out line combinations with Hatcher and Lang, but now that Lang is out with an injury we’ll just have to see who he clicks with the best upon his return.
Dave Lewis then joined Smith for the next 15 minutes or so of the press conference and I asked him the following question, “Aside from the Stanley Cup, what has been the most memorable experience for you with this organization?” He replied that being part of an Original 6 team and working for such a great organization was a real honor and that when you get involved at this level – it is just a great reward to coach.
Next up were media favorites such as Nicholas Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press, Ken Kal the infamous radio play-by-play announcer, and Shireen Saski who reports for shows such as Red Wings Weekly, Tigers Weekly, CCHA Weekly, and the Detroit Sports Report. The three inviduals answered questions that seemed to be primarily focused around the Bertuzzi incident and related topics such as fighting, changes that they thought should be made in the game, and the upcoming CBA. Ken recommended no forward passing by the goalies (like no passing to the blue line), but they could still help out the defenseman behind the net. “There shouldn’t be too many changes, I think it is a good game now. Subtle rules changes but nothing overboard,” Kal said. Shireen, when asked if fighting has a place in hockey, said: “As long as it is a fair fight, I love fighting. Fighting is like the checks and balances of the hockey world.” Nick agreed with Ken that no big changes in the game should be made, but he would like to cut out around 4 teams because it would concentrate talent and make things more competitive and interesting.
Once the three media members were done, the group had the opportunity to go up into the press box for around 20 minutes or so and watch practice. Some decided to get closer to the ice and take pictures. This has been my second time attending a practice, and it is so refreshing to see the comradarie and joking that goes along at practice. Back in November, Kris Draper told me the following: “You know, I’m going to come to the rink everyday and work hard when I have to but I’m going to have a lot of fun doing it. Sometimes guys are know whatever, like in grumpy moods or grouchy but I make sure I’m much more chipper and kind of bug them as much as I can to get them in good moods. So its fun that way, myself and Kirk Maltby, we have a lot of energy and we love to kind of fool around out there and have fun but the bottom line is, when you have to work – you work and when you can have fun, you have fun. I’m just fortunate. Everyday I get to come down here. I’m a Detroit Red Wing and I’ve won three Stanley Cups and everything in hockey is just going really good now.”
After lunch provided by Little Caesar’s, three players (Mowers, Draper, and Williams) came out for a combined total of 30 minutes or so to answer any questions. Once again Bertuzzi and the future stoppage made up most questions and since I plan on writing an article about those issues separate from this one, you’ll have to wait to hear their responses. However, one interesting question that a student asked Mowers was “what would be the worst injury one could get during the season?” He responded with this: “For all of the guys who blow out their knees, their ACLs, I think that is probably one of the worst. But if I had to pick one, and I’ve had one before, is a concussion. There are some minor concussions, but if you have a pretty bad one it isn’t fun at all. Post concussion syndrome is something no one wants to go through and I know the knee thing is bad too but at least you can rehab and get up everyday to go to therapy. You see the light at the end of the tunnel, but with a concussion there are other things that go along with it like dizziness but it is definitely no fun and would be the worst injury in my opinion.” I’ve never had a concussion, but I have had 4 knee surgeries, one ACL surgery last year and it is awful. The rehab can be very challenging and painful, and I can’t imagine having journalists keeping tabs on how well you are doing.
Draper seemed very appreciative of his great season and his line mate (before McCarty came back), Steve Yzerman. “No I didn’t think I’d ever be playing with Steve Yzerman and I don?t think Steve Yzerman thought he’d be nicknamed a Grind-Liner either. It was pretty interesting to play with Stevie. He’s obviously a tremendous hockey player and a great leader and its just great to have him as a line-mate. Anytime you get mentioned to win a National Hockey Award is pretty special. It would be a tremendous accomplishment to win the Selke. I just hope that the 65 or 66 games that I have played will carry me into that. When you play hockey, you can accept that injuries are just going to be part of the game, but to get hurt at the end of a pregame skate is obviously disappointing.”
With the conclusion of the press conference with the three players, we all headed home.
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