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Player Responsibility and the Media

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Saturday night after the Toronto Maple Leafs were beaten 6-2 by the Buffalo Sabresm Phil Kessel told the media "get away from me." This has sparked a conversation about fans, player responsibility and the media.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/HappyCaraT">@HappyCaraT</a> people are just doing their jobs. A beat guy needs a Kessel quote after a 6-2 loss to the league&#39;s worst team.</p>&mdash; Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) <a href="https://twitter.com/ThomasDrance/status/534372331485798400">November 17, 2014</a></blockquote>

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What responsibility does a player have to the media? Are they supposed to speak after every game if they are a star on the team or only after good games? Who talks after bad games? Are certain players expected to talk more? Earlier today, this was a discussion that took place on social media and with insights from MSM themselves, the idea that all of this matters is true. Thanks to Thomas Drance and Melissa Martin, I understand that there are sometimes that a star player has to be the one spewing the cliches; it matters more when it comes from them.

A team gets beaten badly and the only players available to talk are the fourth liners. There words do not hold much merit in the media. They are usually likeable guys who play 5-10 minutes a night. When a top player, say Evander Kane, talks after the game there is more merit in his cliches. Strange but true. This goes into the idea that it shows leadership and responsibility when talking after a tough loss. Maybe it does. It does show someone willing to take the heat when having to talk about a game they probably want to forget. And not everyone is made for that job.

If MSM wants to talk to about how a player is difficult to work with, that is fine, It is nice when someone makes it so your job is not as difficult as it can be. Yes, writing game stories can be hard because games can turn on a dime and that story you had going can become irrelevant in the span of a minute or two. Frustration can go both ways. A player is not obligated to talk to the media, but in the realm of human decency, they should be polite if they do not want to.

The problem with a player not talking to the media or willingly talking to the media comes down to player evaluation/treatment in the media. A player can be not easy to deal with and still be a good player. A player can be super awesome to deal with and still be not very good at this hockey thing. If you let the former colour your perception of that player as a player on the ice, you are not being objective. Being objective and judging someone based on how well they do their job is something that is required. Subjective opinions because someone is willing to talk to you after they played a bad game does not make them a better player or mean they should be free of criticism, it means they were willing to speak after a bad day. That is commendable though.

It does not make sense to me or many others why MSM feels the need to have cliched answers from certain players after games, but it does matter to them. As noted by both Drance and Martin, there is a hierarchy and getting quotes from certain players is important. Just think of football, the quarterback is expected to talk after a game, no matter how the game goes. When they don't, questions are asked and there may be more to the story. Maybe more digging is needed, maybe the player just really hates talking. Whatever the reason, there is the expectation that some players need to be available to the media after tough games.

If a player consistently refuses to talk to the media and it is a player the MSM would like to speak to some times, there should be ways to talk to that player sometimes. Not after every game, but every few games. I do not know for sure, but it would seem that the team's public relations staff would be an acceptable means to be able to have that player talk to the player post game every few games. Going public with the complaint seems petty. It seems like that is the worst way to get what you want. It does not paint you in a positive light. But frustration is a reasonable reaction at some point.

What Kessel said was not good, but taking it public was not the right move. The media mentioning publicly Dustin Byfuglien not talking to the media last year after a bad game is not fair game. It is an internal matter and one that should be addressed internally. When it is taken public, fans find it ridiculous. It is not as ridiculous as it seems, but the public perception is one of entitlement. That does not fully explain the situation, but that is how people read it.

TL;DR What Kessel said wasn't right, neither was taking it public but the frustrations is understandable.