Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

DEFENDING RICHARDS

This is not going to be a popular stance among my hockey-writing brethren, but the fact is, I completely understand where Mike Richards is coming from in his on-again-off-again relationship with the local media.

You'll be hearing all about this tomorrow, but tonight Richards had a bit of a blow up with the local writers following a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals in D.C.

The crux of the disagreement was surrounding some quotes by Richards in the Jan. 25 edition of the Hockey News in which he is quoted as saying the Philadelphia Media makes things up when times are bad.

The exchange grew heated, so much so that at one point, coach Peter Laviolette had to get between Richards and one reporter (not yours truly) to prevent things from really going awry.

Before I express my opinion on the subject, I'm going to provide a transcription of the interview for all to read so you can begin to formulate your own opinions on the subject.

(NOTE: Two questions concerning the game were asked prior to these questions and have been omitted from this transcription for lack of relevance to the topic).

INQUIRER: A story was published this weekend where you say the Philadelphia media makes stuff up. Can you address that?

RICHARDS: The articles to begin with at the beginning of the year. Things like that.

INQUIRER: Such as?

RICHARDS: The drinking articles and things like that.

INQUIRER: The drinking articles?

RICHARDS: The articles… that’s why I didn’t talk to you for a month.

INQUIRER: I did an article that said that you drank?

RICHARDS: Yes.

INQUIRER: I have no idea what you are talking about. Elaborate please?

RICHARDS: Are you allowed to write something in the paper at any time that I say we didn’t…

INQUIRER: (interrupting) I didn’t.

RICHARDS: You didn’t write an article at the beginning of the year?

INQUIRER: That said you were drinking?

RICHARDS: That we’re out too much and that you asked Lupes (Joffrey Lupul, now with Anaheim) all the questions and everything? Anthony? Weren’t there articles?

DELCO TIMES: There were articles about those events but nothing naming you specifically.

RICHARDS: They said the players were drinking too much. Richards and Carter were out all the time.

INQUIRER: He (Lupul) said that?

RICHARDS: Isn’t that what the article said?

INQUIRER: No. I think that you’re making that up.

RICHARDS: Oh, O.K.

INQUIRER: You’re making it up.

RICHARDS: O.K.

CSNPHILLY.COM: The follow up to that is, do you think there’s a problem between us and you?

RICHARDS: Um.. Probably not. I haven’t even read the (Hockey News) article. I don’t know if I was misquoted or what was said. So, I can’t elaborate on that.

DELCO TIMES: I guess the question that might clear this up is, is this something that was brought up to you by the (Hockey News) writer, or was this something you brought back up again yourself?

RICHARDS: No. I’m not sure in this instance because it was a month-and-a-half ago. But, in the texting it was like, ‘What’s it like playing in Philadelphia?’ I said, ‘The media’s tough sometimes when we’re losing, it’s good what we’re winning.’ I can’t say exactly what I said but…

INQUIRER: (interrupting) You did say in the next sentence that ‘they make stuff up.’

RICHARDS: Oh, O.K.

COURIER POST OF NJ: Do you think you’re treated unfairly by us this season?

RICHARDS: No... Thanks guys. It was a pleasure, as usual.


Following this exchange Richards approached some writers privately to talk further. He was definitely upset. Soon, one of the writers started jawing with him and the two were face-to-face for a second before coach Peter Laviolette stepped between the two and separated them before it escalated any further.

Here's the thing. Is Richards a little too sensitive? Yes. Does he have to stop worrying so much about what is written about him? Yes. Does he need to embrace his captaincy a bit more and use it as a soap box of sorts. Yes.

Yet, I feel for the guy. I really do.

Here's the thing. Put yourself in his shoes. He's a 24-year-old single guy. He's also a handsomely-paid professional athlete. Now ask yourself, if you were him, wouldn't you be enjoying the good life a little bit too? I know I sure would.

Also, imagine you were a professional athlete. Imagine if every day people were writing things about you. Wouldn't you at least be interested in their opinions? Wouldn't you kind of use that as a guideline for the way you carry yourself in front of them? I know I would.

In the same magazine piece, Chris Pronger says this about being a young leader and dealing with the media:

"There's always a learning curve, but it's not always the way you think it's going to be an it's definitely not always going to be the easy way," he said. "The media turned on me pretty quick and I think that's why I had the reputation I had for the first seven, eight, nine years as not media-friendly. They weren't overly nice to me, so I thought, 'I'm not going to help them do their job if they're not nice to me.'
"Learning that lesson comes with the learning curve and maturity. You're going to have situations where things don't always go well and you have to learn how to deal with the bad times just as you have to learn to deal with the good.
"Mike is still a very young player and nobody's going to be perfect all the time. He's a pretty quiet guy who wants to lead by example and let his play be his voice,let his play be the tool that gets guys to buy in to what we're trying to do here. As a young leader with a lot of young players around, sometimes that's difficult.
"Guys are going to make mistakes, whether it's maturity issues, or game experiences. There are all sorts of things you encounter as a 24-year-old and you're going to look back years later and say 'Ahhh' - much like I did. I had to go through the exact same experiences as a young captain with a lot of pressure like Mike.
I can tell all these guys what's going to happen until I'm blue in the face, but they've got to go live it and make their own mistakes. They may heed some advice and not make some of the glaring mistakes I made, but they still have to live their lives and learn from their experiences."

That's a mouthful.

But he's right. Richards has some things to learn, and to be fair to Richards, there has been obvious growth. He still has room to grow, but again, it'll take time.

Where I side with him is that maybe we came on a bit too thick as writers today.

Maybe we made too much of this story in the Hockey News, which, in my opinion, went way overboard in it's description of the stories we all wrote about the Flyers young core of players (there were references to condom machines and Quagmire from the Family Guy).

But, criticism of the approach of the Hockey News story, which was certainly a few months too late on the subject, the post game story became a story only because we put ourselves into the story.

We could have spoken to Mike specifically about the game and let well enough alone. Or, we could have broached the subject a little differently, without ambushing him as we did. Some of the questions, to me, also seemed to be an attempt to goad Richards.

That's not fair. So, to see Richards lose his cool afterward, I can't say it wasn't completely justified.

Does there need to be better understanding between captain and media? Yes. But, was Richards a bit uptight and not answering with the right words, forcing the questioners to poke and prod him on the semantics of his answers without letting him express it properly? I think so too.

Hopefully there can be some resolution here, but at the same time, if Richards decides to not talk to us for awhile again, I can't say I don't understand.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, Philly media...you do like to tear down your sports stars, don't you...
Of all the places I've lived, Philly media takes the prize. You practically run guys out.
SanFilippo- way to be about the most objective writer I've seen on covering the behavior of your cohorts.

January 17, 2010 at 10:44 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does that reporter have a job talking to his subject that way? That embarrassing.

January 17, 2010 at 10:47 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Philly media is going to rip on Richards then how about you guys at least proof read your articles for spelling and grammar. It's really not that hard.

January 17, 2010 at 10:51 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure the team is sick to death of the media reporting on their personal lives, whether it's fabricated (the Carter/Hartnell garbage) or partly true (the young guys partying, as if that hasn't happened since the beginning of time). You seem like the most reasonable of the Philly bunch, please keep reporting on the game instead of the tabloid stuff.

January 17, 2010 at 11:37 PM 
Blogger Dan said...

Mike Richards is awesome, and i totally understand where hes coming from. People need to get off his back its just garbage that doesn't need to be written about

January 18, 2010 at 12:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anthony, for the transcript, as well as your reasoned, reflective comments. Since he's captain of the team, the media should have access to Richards. However, their dealings with Richards shouldn't become a distraction from his primary job - helping the team play their best hockey. I support you, Richie. Let's go Flyers! :)

January 18, 2010 at 12:40 AM 
Anonymous Jen C said...

Cheers to you for being the classiest writer in the bunch. All 4 media outlets represented in the transcript have written posts about it (although one has since been removed), and yours gave us the story straight and handled it with aplomb.

January 18, 2010 at 1:03 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the transcript; that helps put it in perspective. I like Richards as a player but, if he's going to be captain, he has to understand that he can't ice the media. Maybe, as Pronger says, he will pick this up as he goes along. The one thing I find curious is the reluctance to name the reporter who got into the shouting match with Richards. Isn't that news? Shouldn't we know where the bad blood is? Why is the media routinely so protective of other reporters? Let's face it, this type of information (a shouting match in a quasi-public place like a locker room open to reporters) isn't privileged or confidential information, just because one of the participants was a reporter. Certainly, the identities of both arguers would be revealed if both were players....

January 18, 2010 at 7:54 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article had a few typos. If you are going to be critical of how Richards is doing his job, at least make sure you can type the right word.

January 18, 2010 at 9:24 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like the reporting, what was the score again?? are you a tabloid writer or a sports writer???

January 18, 2010 at 12:35 PM 
Anonymous c said...

thanks, anthony. good responsible work as always.

January 18, 2010 at 3:22 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Richards is such a baby!!!! Stop whinning and act like a Pro, maybe win a playoff series. Mike Richards Sucks and so do the Flyers Lets Go Pens!!! Look at Sid who has a cup already. Learn to be a winner instead of a Philly Loser !!!!

January 18, 2010 at 4:05 PM 
Blogger Jim said...

If somebody accused you of writing something that you didn't, you wouldn't be happy about it either. Telling one media outlet that other journalists make stuff up, and then not being able to back that up, is weak. Richards is in too deep for his maturity level. Give the "C" to Pronger

January 18, 2010 at 4:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he thinks Philly hockey writers are tough, he should try playing in Montreal.

Grow up Mike.

January 18, 2010 at 4:25 PM 
Blogger Ryan said...

Im pretty upset that these hack-job Philly reporters are affecting the Flyers on ice performance. Maybe everyone should follow Richards' lead and boycott buying Philly papers untill they leave the team alone so they can win some games.

January 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM 
Blogger Ryan said...

I bet that reporter who went nose to nose with Richards was crapping his pants!!! And to that Crosby loving Pens fan, figures you don't rember Philly in the conference finals 2 years ago as most Pens fans have only started watching hockey last year. Oh and I remember Crosby being voted the whiniest player in the league by other players a few years back, not Richards.

January 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Pens troll: Why are you weighing in on the Richards issue? Actually, why are you even reading a Philly sports blog? Thanks for illustrating again, in typical ignorant fashion, why the rest of the NHL thinks the Penguins and their fans are obnoxious...

January 19, 2010 at 10:02 PM 
Blogger Adam said...

Wow, you people are trash. Who the hell are you to tell him how to live his life. He's obviously something that you'll never be. And it just shows your jealousy, that you'll never be a handsome well-paid professional athlete. You have a journalism career. I'm from Pittsburgh, but I'm a Flyers fan. And here, they don't tear apart our athletes. They give them praise. Maybe that's why the Flyers are struggling like they are. You're putting more and more stress on them. Obviously you don't care about your city's growth, because as long as your team is losing then your city won't get the income from the stanley cup, so go ahead, be more retarded. Dumbshits.

January 24, 2010 at 2:28 PM 

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